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Forward thinking is the best thinking

31 May 2018Jonathan Faurie

The 2018 South African Underwriters Associations (SAUMA) Annual Conference, which is one of the very prominent events happening every year, was an extremely well attended event filled with valuable and relevant content. SAUMA always manages to keep a good balance between SAUMA specific, regulatory and political/economical content to keep members engaged on the real topical issues of the day.

Regulatory challenge
Steve von Roretz, CEO of SAUMA, briefed the audience on SAUMA’s vision going forward and thereafter introduced Lezanne Botha from the Financial Sector Charter Authority (FSCA) who gave an update on RDR and Fit and Proper and very specifically discussed the relevant regulation impacting underwriting managers at the moment. We will share more detail around that in a follow-up newsletter.
Water, water
Extreme weather events have had a major impact on the South African insurance industry over the past three years. From massive storms, to droughts, to more storms on the Highveld and in KwaZulu Natal at the end of 2017; the impact of global warming is definitely making its presence felt. 

One of the other speakers, Dr Anthony Turton, one of the foremost authorities on water and water management within South Africa provided insight into why we should actually use water, and not see it as a scarce resource. “Teach your kids that it is okay to flush the toilet every time,” Turton said. 

Dire straits

“I am in the advanced stage of writing a book on water that will be published before the end of this year. It has given me the opportunity to review twenty years of trends, data and issues. The simple reality is that when water was nationalized in 1998, there was no institutional capacity to deal with the millions of water use licences that were needed. At the same time, we lost a significant portion of our national resource because of the new legal requirement known as The Reserve which gave ecosystems a right to their own water. This meant that in 2002 we had already allocated 98% of the total national resource. In effect, we transitioned into a fundamentally water constrained economy at that time but still had good infrastructure so we never felt the results,” said Dr Turton. 

He added that the simple answer is that South Africa has a fundamentally water constrained economy, and we have very hard choices to make as a society if we wish to restore some level of economic growth over the next decade. The message was clear… and Turton is adamant, “use water, otherwise the economy won’t grow”. Water is inextricably linked to economic growth and that the economy is taking a knock because of the water crisis in the Western Cape. 

“There are many specific issues related to the insurance industry. Because of the breakdown in the assurance of water supply, water pressure is erratic. Therefore, a building that was built with certain design parameters for fire protection will need those parameters to be revisited. Because of our inability to deal with mine closure properly, we are also starting to see the migration of uranium and arsenic down rivers into wetlands. This is a major category of risk that the insurance industry needs to understand,” said Turton. 

Going digital
Brett St Clair, an international speaker on digital technology, kept the audience engaged when he shared his ideas around financial inclusion, and how we can make the digital experience for the client more personal. He shared a video demonstration of Google Assistant making a complex phone call to the hairdresser to make an appointment. The assistant manages to fully autonomously interact with the hairdresser. When you see that you get nervously excited about what the future holds. Digital technology will change the way we do business; and we have to make sure we include that in the way we do business and in the way we see our businesses growing.  

Editor’s Thoughts:
Conferences like the SAUMA conference does add value, remind us the opportunities out there, create valuable network opportunities and keep the relevant conversations going. What would you like to see more of when it comes to keeping your UMA thrive? Please comment below, interact with us on Twitter at @fanews_online or email me your thoughts jonathan@fanews.co.za.

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