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The Alexander Forbes Investment Indaba is a thought leadership event, with the aim to provide a platform for some of the country’s best thinkers to share their insights on issues relating to investment themes, of which sustainable investing, and changing member behavior was a focus this year.

The Indaba took its lead from Mercer GIF, and informs debate on globally topical issues within a local context through an investment lens. 

The theme for this year’s event was Sustainable Investing. In nature, there are four elements that work together to create and sustain life as we know it: earth, air, fire and water. Although they’re unpredictable and behave erratically at times, they can be harnessed and manipulated to our advantage.

The same can be said for investment strategies, in that they’re not always predictable or controllable. However, with the right expertise, a little foresight, agility and financial acumen, they can be utilised to our benefit. This continuous pursuit for mastery of the elements is something that differentiates Alexander Forbes Investments and what gives us the Foursight to invest in a sustainable future.

Dawie de Villiers – Group Chief Executive

Dawie was appointed group chief executive of. Alexander Forbes on 1 November 2018. Prior to his appointment, he was the chief executive officer of Sanlam Employee Benefits, a position he held since 2013.

He started his career at Sanlam as an actuary in 1993 in Sanlam Life Insurance, before assuming several senior executive positions in the business over a period of 25 years. During this period he broadened his business acumen, while gaining an in-depth knowledge of the technicalities and markets served by each of these units.

Dawie has a wealth of experience in the employee benefits and investment management industry and ‘believes that the employee benefits industry can have a huge influence in South Africa by really changing people’s lives through enabling financial peace of mind’. Dawie holds a BSc Actuarial Science and he is a fellow of the Actuarial Society of South Africa. He also completed the Advanced Management Programme, at the European Institute of Business Administration (INSEAD).


Opening and welcome -

Gyongyi King – Chief Investment Officer, Alexander Forbes Investments

Gyongyi joined Alexander Forbes Investments as deputy chief investment officer, leading the investment research team. Gyongyi has been Caveo’s CIO for the past seven years. Caveo has been one of the largest and most successful fund-of-hedge fund businesses in South Africa, largely due to the investment leadership provided by her.


Gyongyi spent seven years at Henderson Global Investors, a UK asset manager, as a hedge fund manager research analyst. She then joined Switzerland-based EFG Private Bank, working for five years as a member of the investment team with responsibility for the alternative manager selection team and the alternative investment multi-manager portfolios.

Topic:    Investment Themes

Johnny Hansen - Board member and investment advisor on impact investments

Johnny has 25 years’ experience in creating value in emerging markets, where his focus was on driving individual and team performance by developing, innovative alternative investment solutions. He helps investment companies improve their strategy and grow their portfolio by 25 % year on year. Roles that he has held entailed elements of business management, deal sourcing, due diligence, investment monitoring and board representation.

Johnny is a board member and investment advisor at Impact Investments where he is involved in strategy design in private equity and investments.

Johnny was an investment consultant at BankInvest where he identified equity investment opportunities with existing, non-listed companies with a growth potential in South Africa. In the Confederation of Danish Industries, Johnny was the Head of international Marketing Services where he was responsible for business development and market establishment in emerging markets.


Topic: Sustainable Investing | An African Outlook - 

Elias Masilela (keynote speaker) - Director, DNA Economists 

Elias is a Director of DNA Economics and a part-time commissioner on the National Planning Commission.  Elias is also a Director of the South African Savings Institute; a founder member of the Financial Sector Charter Council; and a former member of the Advisory Board of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the University of Pretoria.  Until recently, Elias was the Chief Executive Officer of the Public Investment Commission (PIC) and a Director of the South African Reserve Bank.  He has previously held senior positions with Sanlam, the Central Bank of Swaziland and was the Deputy Director General of the South African National Treasury.


Topic: Prescribed Assets | Our South African Political Climate and our macro environment -

Inge West -  Responsible Investment, Mercer

Inge joined Mercer Wealth in April 2018 in Mercer’s Responsible Investment team in London. She is responsible for advising institutional investors on sustainable investment strategies and on integrating Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) issues through their investment process. In addition, Inge contributes to new intellectual capital and integrating responsible investment within Mercer globally, particularly through their delegated solutions.


Before joining Mercer’s RI team, Inge served as Head of Responsible Investing at Alexander Forbes Investments in South Africa, where she was responsible for integrating ESG considerations into the investment process of Alexander Forbes Investments and in assessing how investment managers integrate ESG factors in their investment decisions. Inge holds an Honours degree in Finance from the University of Cape Town.


Topic: Investing in a time of Climate Change -

Riaan Singh – Head of Digital Client Solutions, Alexander Forbes Investments

Riaan is looking to reimagine and deliver exceptional customer experiences across the entire AF group, and embed design thinking, design doing and a design culture.


In his role as Head of Digital Strategy at MMI, Riaan was responsible for defining the digital vision and roadmap within Momentum Corporate. This involved identifying target customer experiences to be transformed, defining required capabilities and planning, initiating and running the development of the required MVP's. Heavy focus on entrenching design thinking across the organization.

Topic: How businesses can use technology to (effectively) change member behaviour

Richard Pouncett – Senior Manager, Accenture Strategy

Richard has over 13 years experience delivering outcomes-based transformation across the financial services industry.

At Accenture, Richard managed a team of strategy consultants, defining the business case and recovery model for a large scale digital banking solution that spanned business and corporate banking across 18 African countries. While I oversaw the detailed development of valuation and cost allocation models, the greatest achievements related to managing numerous executive stakeholders across separate business segments and geographies in negotiating a fair and transparent model of recovery with one another.

Richard is an award winner for digital service design, and driven by a passion to change the state of financial wellness for South Africans.

Topic: How businesses can use technology to (effectively) change member behaviour

Butsi Tladi


Butši started her career at Alexander Forbes in 1995 as a consultant in the Health division and was later appointed as the managing director in January 2012. In this role she was responsible for managing Alexander Forbes Health, the largest and leading specialist health care consulting company in South Africa. She was recently appointed as the executive responsible for all clients within the Alexander Forbes Group, including health, retirements and Investments.


She is actively involved in various industry initiatives that made submissions to the National Treasury and the Department of Health on the Demarcation between Health Insurance Policies and Medical Schemes.


Butši led an industry delegation that presented to the South African Competition Commission on the role of intermediaries in private health. She has also led the Joint Intermediary Forum, which made a submission to the Minister of Health on National Health Insurance and Medical Schemes Amendment Bills.

She is passionate about women empowerment and is a founding member of the Alexander Forbes Women in Business. She is also a trustee of the Isilulu Trust, an employee share scheme aimed at increasing black-women ownership in the company.


In 2018, Butši was accepted on the prestigious IWF Fellows Programme, which included leadership development at Harvard University and INSEAD.

Panel Discussion


Topic: Sustainable investing in our country



David Moore - Head of Alternative Investments, Alexander Forbes Investments

Johnny Hansen - Board member and investment advisor on impact investments

Janina Slawski - Principal Consultant, Alexander Forbes Investments

Elias Masilela - Director, DNA Economists

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After six years of Benefits Barometer, an employee benefit thought leadership and research publication by Alexander Forbes, Dawie de Villiers, CEO of Alexander Forbes discusses key lessons gained and how this research is being used to improve financial outcomes and well-being of South Africans.

The employee benefit industry is fragmented and non-inclusive, with advice being more accessible for high-income earners and benefits not integrated into our overall financial well-being. Therefore, we need to adopt a collaborative approach as Isaac Ramputa, CEO at Financial Sector Charter Council, articulates: “A one-size-fits-all solution is not the right approach to structuring employee benefits; we need to consider the unique characteristics of the South African demographic profile.

From Benefits Barometer we have learnt that our focus needs to be on the financial well-being journey of employees with the end-goal of saving for retirement.”


Against this background, I believe the true impact of our Benefits Barometer publications is in the changes it has sparked in defining both the narrative of the South African financial services industry, and in advice and solutions. However, it is now time for action to embed this fully and deliver the desired outcomes.


The following six catalysts of change have driven significant shifts in advice frameworks, services and solutions: the shift from one-size-fits-all to personalisation; leveraging the workplace; embracing goals-based frameworks and solutions; understandable, relatable and actionable information; provision of integrated advice and solutions; and collaborative partnerships to broaden the financial well-being ecosystem.


Shifting from one-size-fits-all to personalisation

This takes places not only in the solutions but also in how advice frameworks are designed. Take for example retirement investment strategies. There has been a significant enhancement on the traditional approach where only an individual’s age was considered as an input, to an approach where strategies are tailored to individuals based on multiple inputs. In general, a more personalised, data-driven approach focusing on individual’s income goals and their behaviours needs to be followed in designing an employee benefit programme; this better supports the outcomes envisaged by regulations with an advice-led approach. To comprehensively structure an employee benefit programme, we have recommended an approach that analyses retirement, healthcare and indebtedness profiles to aid employers in putting proactive measures in place to address the specific issues relating to their employees.


Leveraging workplace employee benefit schemes

Employers have vested interests in improving the financial well-being of their employees. Some benefits include the ability to provide employees with group pricing on insurance and savings options as well as workplace benefit counselling to assist individuals on, for example, joining, leaving or retiring. We believe that the most important way to change the saving and financial SHAPING FINANCIAL SERVICES TO IMPROVE FINANCIAL OUTCOMES FOR SOUTH AFRICANS planning behaviours of South Africans is to work with them the moment they start earning an income.


It is better to start an advice framework before an employee even signs a contract and then use ongoing engagement to help them with their financial decisions both throughout their employment history and beyond.


Embracing goals-based frameworks and solutions

For example, to achieve a good retirement outcome, our advisory framework needs to be goals based, by reviewing individuals’ needs and goals and evaluating how shortfalls can be addressed both in programme design and implementation.


Measurement tools need to determine the success of strategies, and retirement and non-retirement savings need to take place side by side.


Understandable, relatable and actionable information

A key requirement is that information must be understandable, relatable and actionable. Easily understood and easily accessible information provided and presented in a relatable way results in more individuals making more informed choices, connecting people to act now because people underestimate their future needs. To deliver this, we have initiated an innovative digital engagement programme, to provide human resources practitioners with support during the individuals’ life journey with the company.


Integrated advice and solutions

The single biggest impact we have is to shape how the industry operates and how we deliver advice and solutions to ensure that we help South Africans to make trade-offs between their individual needs. We need to ensure that we recognise the linkages between mental, physical and financial well-being across an individual’s journey, recognising that each component has a knock-on effect.


We believe that a more integrated approach in delivering information, counselling, advice and the right solutions at the right time improves financial well-being, which has a demonstrable impact on the savings and retirement outcomes. As an example, early indications across a pilot sample of funds, show the following:


  • Members preserved significantly more in funds that had adopted the Alexander Forbes default retirement income solutions than in those that did not.

  • In just over two years preservation rates increased in funds that had adopted our default retirement income solutions whilst preservation rates in funds that had not adopted them declined over the same period.

  • Members preserved more in funds that had an appointed adviser than in those that did not.


Employers appreciate that they have a responsibility to the broader South African society of ensuring that employees who left their protection would either go on to continue to be productive contributors to South African society or be well insulated from social and economic implosion. The good news is that an integrated and holistic focus on well-being may well hold the key to addressing South Africa’s serious demands for entrepreneurship, economic growth and more inclusive employment.


Finally, collaboration is the key to fulfilling the objectives outlined with the ultimate aim of achieving a lifetime of financial well-being for the individuals we serve over their life journey. We know that not one institution can get all this right on its own. It must be a collaborative issue.


We must come together – providers, employers, government, regulators and the individual. We want to put the research into practice so that individuals can see the benefits at the end of the day. If we can get this collaboration right, that’s the way to uplift South Africa.







Consi Kalamaras, PR & Media Relations

+27 11 505 6012 or +27 (0) 82 808 4440


Sheri Cohen, Corporate Image

+27 (0) 71 683 1888



Alexander Forbes is a specialised financial services group headquartered in South Africa focusing on employee benefits solutions for institutional clients, and financial well-being and retail financial solutions for individual clients, in particular employees of the Group’s institutional clients. Alexander Forbes is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (“JSE”), and its primary clients span both the private and public sector market segments, including employers, retirement, health, investment and other special purpose funds on the institutional side, and individual members and beneficiaries of these funds, as well as the wider individual market, on the retail side. The main services provided by the Group include retirement funds and asset consulting, actuarial, investment and administration services, employee risk benefits and healthcare consulting, personal lines insurance, individual financial advisory and multi-manager investment solutions. Alexander Forbes’ principal geographic focus is in South Africa, where it has been operating since 1935, sub-Saharan Africa, the UK and other selected jurisdictions which have employee benefits legislative frameworks similar to South Africa.

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