Fri, 22/02/2019 - 08:45
Current Issue 71
Fundamentally Transforming Finance
Emphasising financial well-being above all else, Alexander Forbes Botswana is acting as a key proponent of inclusion, innovation and modernisation for the country
Writer: Jonathan Dyble
Project Manager: Josh Mann
“Global markets are increasingly becoming fragmented as the traditional sense of work is being replaced by modern systems and technology. In Botswana we are not immune to such developments, and as a developing nation we must take greater notice of these changes, ensuring our services and products are relevant to our client needs.”
Traditionally, Botswana is seen as one of the world’s development success stories. Having found itself as one of the world’s poorest nations following independence in 1966, the country successfully tapped into its abundant mineral resource base, meanwhile establishing good governance and sound economic management.
As a result, it today stands as a middle-upper income nation with the fifth best GDP per capita of the 54 countries across Africa.
However, for Poloko Masitara, CEO of Alexander Forbes Botswana Group Holdings and the proponent of the opening statements, there is still significant work to be done.
An organisation that has played a crucial role in bolstering the country’s financial industry since its inception 23 years ago, Alexander Forbes Botswana is taking the reins to this end, fundamentally transforming financial security for the nation’s people and bringing the region in line with international standards.
“This is what our model is built on,” Masitara states. “A specialised financial services company, we are proudly committed to having a positive impact on our clients’ lives throughout their lifetimes.
“We are continuously evolving
and introducing products and services that our clients utilise as they continue assisting their members and consolidate their financial
What truly stands the company apart in its ability to achieve these ambitious goals are its broad range of services and emphasis on innovation.
From employee benefits administration, accounting services, consulting and actuarial services to beneficiary trust, asset consulting and financial planning services, Alexander Forbes Botswana has become synonymous with the progressive side of the country’s financial industry, something that Masitara is particularly proud of.
“I see our proven track record within the industry, our unique understanding of the employee benefits landscape, our product diversity and our cultural pillars of being caring, educational and results orientated as competitive advantages,” she states.
“Much of our reputation has been built up on our ability to solve problems and provide appropriate expertise to our clients. We pride ourselves on the delivery of a concise and on-time service, and the flexibility of these services to deliver any promise in a smooth and effective manner.”
Key to this are Alexander Forbes Botswana’s staff, something that the firm both recognises and embraces, actively fostering an environment that ensures its employees retain responsibility and adopt a duty of care for each and every company client.
Such is evident in the company providing education and personal development opportunities via its internal group-wide Degreed training platform.
“It is quite apparent that our greatest asset is our people,” Masitara adds. “They are the heart of the Alexander Forbes engine and through them we are able to stay ahead of the curve, continuously evolve our service offering and remain a market leader.”
Innovation and adaptation
Leveraging the expertise and skills of this well-established team, the firm has equally positioned itself a leading authority and recognised body of financial excellence for Botswana.
It has continued to amass an unrivalled finance database that provides an insightful outlook on the national economy, utilised vigorously not only to ideally-align its own offerings with market fluctuations, but also by other local and international entities who aim to gain a better understanding of Botswanan market.
“This is not all,” Masitara reveals. “Additionally, we are currently the market leader within the private pension fund administration space, with a market share of 58,826 members and assets under administration of almost seven billion Pula ($667.4 million). Moreover, we currently manage the largest umbrella fund with approximately 1.45 billion Pula ($138.5 million) in assets under administration, consisting of over 160 participants.”
Alongside this, the firm continues to pioneer market innovation by committing substantial resources to an extensive investment programme, a programme that has paid dividends with the firm’s upcoming launch of Lifegauge, a newly developed digital platform that will open a doorway for conversation and two-way interaction between trustees and consultants.
Utilising an actuarial project model in order to visually represent potential retirement futures for fund members, this model embraces a goal-based methodology that measures the degree to which each member will achieve a retirement income that will sufficiently match their unique lifestyle.
“The client can then construct what-if scenarios to investigate the impact of the various financial levers that influence future outcomes,” Masitara explains. “They will be in a position to uncover the hidden dynamics that shape the fund’s future, and devise strategies for implementing practical solutions to increase member-replacement strategies.”
For Alexander Forbes, the increasing implementation of such advanced, technologically-enabled platforms will be crucial, not only for the company’s continued success, but for the economy’s wider transformation and modernisation.
The CEO continues: “As an organisation we are continuously investing in technology, as technology and financial services are becoming synonymous, and as innovation is heavily reliant on technology. Our clients’ technological landscape is changing, and so we too must adapt
to remain relevant.”
A higher purpose
The company’s forward-thinking mindset aside, Alexander Forbes Botswana equally recognises the need for a multitude of different socio-economic development efforts, aligning itself with the second pillar of Botswana’s Vision 2036.
To this end, the organisation ensures that it contributes towards disadvantaged communities in Botswana, providing assistance in the form of donations to different communities.
“This has included financial support to a house in Malotwane and a French classroom for the Ledumadumane School, a donation call for the Dignity Foundation Trust, providing movies to Old Naledi opharns, a blood donation drive which happens at least twice every year, as well as the Teach a Child to Save initiative,” explains Masitara, highlighting the breadth of the company’s efforts.
“Further, our Corporate Social Responsibility Committee that oversees these initiatives is also working on a “sponsor a school” project, a Ministry of Education poverty eradication and social responsibility initiative where different organisations are encouraged to give back to the society by nominating a school in remote areas and provide assistance once the needs of the school have been identified.”
A key local activist in providing benefit to the Botswanan people, the company has equally recognised the need to address declining antiunity rates offered on retirement packages – a process that is resulting in the unfortunate outcome of creating old age poverty.
“As more and more people withdraw their retirement benefits for short term gratification at the expense of future incomes, coupled with increased longevity, the likelihood of an increase in old age poverty in Botswana is a grim reality,” Masitara states. “And as old age poverty intensifies, the need for social security grants increases and the burden on the future middle-aged population heightens.
“Considering this, as a society and as an organisation, we need to take cognisance of these effects on our social structure and the possible impact this has on future generations and the state.”
This economically sustainable outlook, combined with the firm’s overriding efforts to innovatively adhere to its clients’ needs and continually provide the platform for its employees to excel, Alexander Forbes Botswana stands to retain its status as a financial services leader for the country looking ahead.
“To reiterate, our purpose is about having a positive impact on the lives of all of Botswanans,” Masitara concludes.