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Investec’s Koseff own retirement plans mirrors the changing face of retirement

“Retirement is not what it used to be” might sound trite, but it certainly rings true in the 21st century where people are living much longer, they are physically more active and stay healthier for longer. “Official” retirement could be just another step-change to a different lifestyle or career.

Investec’s Stephen Koseff is interviewed by René Grobler, Head of Investec Cash Investments, regarding his personal view on the next stage of his life.

“I don’t think that people should retire. For me, the kind of stuff that I will be doing is just going to be different” says Koseff. ” There is an ability to have a second life, from a work point of view. You need to take some things a bit easier, you can’t live with the same stress. But you can still be effective and do the things that give you satisfaction. Something that gets you up in the morning and that can make a difference to society”. Stephen will be staying on as a non-executive director at Investec, remains the co-chair of the Youth Employment Services (YES) program, as well as taking on one or two external roles. He adds: “It’s not golf four days a week, not for me anyway.”

Importance of purpose

“Purpose is very important in this next phase of your life. There are many of us who have had careers at a very senior level who can make a difference in a society like South Africa, and if you have the time, it is important to give back to the community and help make the country a better place for all.,” says Koseff.

He stresses the fact that South Africa has a major shortage of skills and experience. Retirees have a role to play here as it is their skills, knowledge and experience that could be utilized in the country. “There is a whole group out there that can make a massive difference if they can apply some of their skills and experience to assist Government, State-owned Enterprises (SOE’s) and young people and help making the country in what it can become.”

Koseff emphasises that growing the economy should be a priority and Government should play the enabling role – the South African economy can grow at a rate of 5%. “But for that to happen you have to be business-friendly. We will never get rid of inequality but with inclusive growth we can narrow the gap between rich and poor. Human capital – and the pool of retirees who have the skills – can play a major role in filling the skills gap that exist. Each skilled worker creates five jobs for unskilled workers.”

René Grobler adds that a virtuous cycle can be created this way. Ultimately you want, for example, retirement savings to be deployed into investments, into economic growth in the country and not only the money that is sitting in that pot; but ultimately also the skill, the experience and knowledge, that sit in South Africa’s human capital. We essentially have a ‘matching’ problem - we need to match the experience with the youth.

Grobler further adds: “Savings are an important part of the virtuous cycle of savings and growth and South Africa’s savings rate is still dismally low, with the Investec GIBS Savings Index reaching a low of 60.9 since inception. We desperately need savings to stimulate fixed investment to get our economic growth going.”

The future world of work

A long career in one job or role may be something of the past. Koseff believes while certain activities will be handled by artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, there will still be a huge need for human intervention. “You are still going to the need the human touch for many things. But what is very important is how technology enables us to do a better job. It takes away a lot of drudge and manual type work and gives us more time to do the work that humans are good at, which is the emotional intelligence side of life. For me this is the key - how are human beings going to partner with technology.”

Asked what advice he would give children and grand-children to prepare themselves for their future careers, Koseff says it is very hard to predict as the world of technology is changing so fast, but people skills would be one of the key things required.

“I have grand-children – at a very early age they are already proficient in handling I-pads and technology and you cannot take that away from them; and you will have machines that will be doing the work of people and do so far more efficiently. We have seen this with the development in technology over the past twenty to thirty years, and it will just accelerate. But career wise, you are always going to need people skills.”

Financial security

Asked about planning for financial security in retirement, Koseff says in future people will be working their whole lives, so they need to start saving early. “You are going to live a lot longer than the previous generations – maybe to a hundred years or more - and that has to be factored in to your lifestyle. You need to make sure that you have financial stability and sustainability.”

Defining success and leaving a legacy

Asked if his definition of success changed from when he was known as the ‘bloke from Benoni’ to now, Koseff answered as follows:

“I grew up in Benoni which was then a small town of about a hundred thousand people and I knew everybody. I went to a school with a strong diversity of people and I knew people who were well off and poor, and I learned to adapt to a multiple of groupings. I was lucky to join Investec when it was very small company and build the business and that obviously helped me a lot. I am happy to go back to being that fellow of Benoni, keeping a low profile but doing some good.”

Grobler concluded by saying that as leaders at Investec they are excited to have Koseff, as part of his role, mentoring and guiding management - something that they value. “As a society we should do more of that, tap into the experience of the people who have done a fantastic job and share that and grow the youngsters.”



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