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Meet the Judges

01 October 2008 Esm? Davies, Celestis

The winner of the exciting 2008 SA Best Practice of the Year Competition will be announced in October at a Gala Award evening in Johannesburg! In anticipation of this momentous event, we meet the judges who selected the best of the best in the South African financial services industry.

The future of the industry is dependent on the standard and professionalism of the advisory services of financial planners. It is, however, important to pay tribute to the entire team – the practice – that supports and facilitates outstanding delivery to clients. There is also a need to assist practice owners to enhance the efficiencies and effectiveness of their businesses.

This is exactly what the SA Best Practice of the Year Competition aims to do. Open to all, this year's competition attracted more than 120 entrants, a 50% increase on 2007! The competition is made possible by Celestis, in partnership with FAnews and Business Health, who has run a similar competition in Australia for the past five years.

Each participating practice completed an on-line HealthCheck practice assessment, the results of which were used to identify ten finalists. These practices were visited by an audit team who validated their results with additional information pertaining to their businesses. The audit reports and summarised HealthCheck reports were submitted to a panel of judges, introduced below, who selected the winner to be announced in October.

Robert Macdonald - Xchange Solutions

Robert Macdonald, head of Exchange Solutions, has more than 10 years of experience in the financial services industry and is also Head of Institutional Consulting at Nedgroup Investments. Before entering the industry Robert was Director of the MBA Programme at the Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town (GSB), and is still a director of the Advice-based Financial Planning course that is run by the GSB Executive Programmes divisions. With a strong academic background that includes a BA in Economics and English, an MA in Politics (Durham) and an MPhil in Management Studies (Oxford), Robert also found time to qualify as a CFP.

Xchange Solutions partners with and supports independent financial planning businesses in the delivery and implementation of objective, client-centric, financial advice, by providing a fully supported advice process and rigorous methodology. Xchange Solutions enables financial planning practices to focus on the needs of the client, and to advise all clients in a consistent manner. Its offering is based on four pillars, a sound advice process; a systematic methodology for implementing that advice; efficient administrations systems and a sound business model to allow a financial planning business to deliver professional service, build a trusted brand with a loyal client base and grow the value of the business.

John Arnesen - Financial Planning Institute (FPI)

John Arnesen, Chief Executive Officer of the FPI, has an impressive academic background which includes a B.Comm degree, an honours degree in Business Economics, a General Management qualification form Harvard and the Chartered Marketer qualification from the Institute of Marketing Management, SA. His current position allows him to focus on his favourite fields, marketing and strategy. Married, with two daughters, John uses what little spare time he has to spend with his family and friends.

The FPI vision is to be the recognised and respected Professional Body for the profession of financial planning in South Africa. The FPI has six strategic focus areas:
* Standards Setting and Enforcement
* Learning Support
* Profession Advocacy
* Technical Insight
* Transformation
* World class Value Proposition

Now 27 years old, the FPI has over 11 000 individual professional members at three levels of membership: RFP, AFP and CFP, providing independent quality advice to their clients across the financial planning spectrum. The CFP mark is internationally recognised through the Financial Planning Standards Board, the international body for Financial Planners.

The FPI has worked closely with the National Treasury, the Financial Services Board, South African Revenue Services, South African Qualifications Authority, INSETA and the FAIS Ombud, as well as with leading corporates, industry trade associations and the industry's media to enhance the professionalism of financial advisors in South Africa.

Richard Rattue - Compli-Serve

Richard Rattue is a Certified Compliance Professional (CCP) of the Compliance Institute of South Africa and sits on the CISA Board of Directors. He is also the Regional chair of the Compliance Officer Forum for the Western Cape and the face behind Compliance Corner, a monthly compliance column in MoneyMarketing.

In 1997, Richard co-founded Investment Technology Solutions, which developed compliancy software solutions for the retail financial services industry. The company was sold to a global IT company. After a stint as an executive board member, Richard founded Compli-Serve SA in 2003. He has three small daughters and enjoys mountain biking.

Compli-Serve SA has created a cost effective range of efficient services and solutions, backed by a national network of experienced and professional staff, to support and enable financial advisors and compliance officers. Their offerings include:
* Outsourced Compliance Service
* Compliance Consultancy Service
* Knowledge Service
* Licence Assist
* Complaints Support Service
* CS Legal Services.

Justus van Pletzen - Financial Intermediaries Association of Southern Africa (FIA)

With a law degree and CFP behind his name, Justus van Pletzen, COO of the FIA, has been involved in the financial services industry for 20 years. He was appointed as CEO of the IBC in 2004 and played a crucial role in the merger between the IBC and SAFSIA to form the FIA, and is currently involved in the merger of the FIA and LUASA that will culminate in an even broaderthe Financial Intermediaries Association of Southern Africa (FIA). When not working, he can be found on the golf course.

The FIA member practices generate approximately 80% of all short term insurance transactions, over 60% of life and collective investments transactions and 80% of employee business in the country. Approximately 15 000 financial intermediaries are represented.

The FIA is committed to the pursuit of its vision of one voice for the industry through which matters of common interest can be channelled when negotiating with product providers and authorities. It is also steadfast in its resolve to enhance the professional service rendered by its members to their clients.As the demand for professional and knowledgeable advisors increases, so the need for an organisation to provide a support base for such financial services intermediaries becomes greater. The FIA is proud to assume this role.

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