OMIGSA tackles shortage of investment professionals

03 March 2011 OMIGSA

Old Mutual Investment Group (OMIGSA) has launched a nationwide scholarship initiative, Imfundo Trust, to address the shortage of black investment professionals and grow the pool of suitably qualified individuals in the asset management industry. “Imfundo” means “education” in isiZulu.

The Imfundo Trust, which will spend approximately R20 million over the next five years, will focus o­n assisting deserving black students – with a special focus o­n women – to acquire tertiary training at selected top South African universities: the University of South Africa, Stellenbosch University, University of Johannesburg, Fort Hare University and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

About 50 students in total have already been selected by their universities for the 2011 academic year, with each of the five participating universities enrolling eight to 10 students.

Kuseni Dlamini, Chief Executive Officer of Old Mutual South Africa and Emerging Markets said, “This investment skills initiative is in line with our economic transformation strategy – with education and skills development as critical pillars.

“The focus is o­n scarce skills, which are desperately needed in our growing economy. To this end, selected students will focus o­n specialist subjects such as developmental economics, finance (with a special emphasis o­n accounting and statistics), law and agriculture.”

He added: “Providing opportunities that our young people can seize and run with is central to Old Mutual’s approach of helping South Africa to do great things. It’s guided as much by a sense of responsibility as by the notion of what’s good for business is good for South Africa. That’s why our efforts in poverty alleviation, economic transformation, and skills and enterprise development all aim to provide catalysts for greatness among ordinary people.”

As part of their training, the students will be required to do community work during holidays to fulfill o­ne of the Trust’s objectives of developing responsible citizens as well as investment professionals who are firmly grounded in the socio-economic challenges of South Africa.

As agreed between the Trust and the respective universities, the scholarship will cover studies at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, covering expenses such as: tuition costs; books and other study materials; limited travel costs for students not studying in their home towns; and a general allowance.

The Trust will be chaired by Rojie Kisten, an OMIGSA executive known for her passion for empowerment issues. Old Mutual’s black empowerment partners Wiphold and Brimstone are represented by Debra Marsden and Iqbal Khan, respectively, o­n the Imfundo Trust board, while Henk Beets, a retired OMIGSA executive with a wealth of investment experience and expertise, is an independent trustee.

“The students will have no obligation to work for OMIGSA following the completion of their studies,” added OMIGSA CEO Diane Radley. “Instead, we aim to increase the pool of qualified black investment professionals available to the entire asset management industry. And it’s not just about investments - more generally, our economy needs far more people with these specialist qualifications – such as agriculture and developmental economics - to help improve efficiency and economic growth going forward.”

Terence Berry, Principal of the Academy of the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA), welcomed the OMIGSA scholarship initiative as a significant step towards ensuring that more talented black students are given the opportunity to build a career in the savings and investment industry.

The ASISA Academy supports ASISA member companies with, among others, skills development programmes aimed at helping new investment professionals bridge the gap between the theory learned at university and the realities of the investment environment.

“We are very excited about this initiative and look forward to working with the Imfundo Trust and the member companies who will be employing these young people o­nce they complete the theoretical part of their training,” said Berry.

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