Africa: Financial services market on lookout for asset management experts
The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) worldwide is preparing to organise its next international conference in Mauritius in March 2015. (Image: STEP)
The STEP South Africa Conference, organised by the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), took place from May 12, 2014 to May 13, 2014 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The two-day conference covered topics like benefits of a South African Retirement annuity policy in estate planning, as well as the differences between South African and equity based trusts, but there was a heavy regional focus.
From looking at the amendments to the SA-Mauritius DTA, to dealing with politically exposed people in Africa, and moving to the breakout sessions, which focused on East and West Africa, as well as Mauritius, Seychelles and Dubai, the conference largely served to explore South Africa’s importance in the region.
The management of AfrAsia Bank, the main sponsor of the event, expressed the hope that the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) would enjoy even brighter prospects across Africa.
Approximately 125 professionals from countries such as Mauritius, South Africa, Seychelles, Ghana, Singapore and Algeria, among others, attended the conference, which was elevated by the presence of the global president of STEP, Hélène Lewis, and by the participation of numerous experts regarding tax system, legal services, assets management business, and holdings.
According to the Head of International Banking at AfrAsia Bank, Yogesh Gokool, there is an urgent need today for professionals in the trusts space to provide specialised services and he highlighted that the market is also in search of experts in the field of asset management.
He highlighted that the number of High Networth Individuals (HNIs) is growing in five continents including Africa, quoting the last Capgemini World Wealth Report which cited a 10% growth in the holdings of these well-endowed people to hit a cumulative USD 46,200 billion today.
North America recorded the highest percentage increase in terms of the number of people with high-value fortunes at 11.5%, while the African continent ranked second with a 9.9% increase in HNIs.
Accordingly, Yogesh Gokool noted that it is critical to provide the necessary means in order to be able to serve this lucrative and growing prospect.
He added that professionals who treat private clientele face multiple challenges, a point of view that was shared by the global president of STEP.
As for Hélène Lewis, she spoke about the international regulatory frame, which is becoming more and more complex and making it contingent upon professionals to acquire a higher level of skills.
She observed that STEP continues to advocate an advanced training in the field of fiduciary services with its members spread across hundreds of branches worldwide.
“We want STEP to be perceived as an excellent professional centre and not as an exclusive organisation. We want the employers to be motivated in terms of hiring quality staff instead of favouring the bulk,” Hélène Lewis noted.
Vimal Damry, President of STEP Mauritius, noted that it is a very good sign for Mauritius as an International Financial Centre to have so many professionals affiliated to STEP, and that these professionals will serve as a guiding force for Mauritius as financial centre of global repute.
Damry noted that the local branch is on the right track as young professionals are expressing greater interest in following academic training imparted for this specific field.
“Employers in the trust industry now realize the importance of their employees being STEP qualified,” he noted.
Vimal Damry, Managing Director of Premier Financial Services Limited, chaired one of the conference sessions at Johannesburg dedicated to contentious trusts and the administration of trusts in the face of a challenging clientele.
He noted a satisfactory participation of Mauritian professionals at this conference, pointing out that Africa attracts much interest from trusts practitioners and a number of professionals consider Mauritius as a gateway to the continent.
STEP Worldwide is preparing to organise its next international conference in Mauritius in March 2015. AfrAsia Bank has been associated with this professional organisation since it opened a branch in Mauritius and has acted as the main sponsor of the last few conferences held in Mauritius and in South Africa respectively.