Navigating Namibia’s regulatory seas

Mathys du Preez is the general manager: legal and compliance at Sanlam Namibia. He spoke to Business7 about the prevailing and changing landscape of his industry.

06 November 2019 | Business

A healthy regulatory environment delineates the field of play and the rules of the game.

B7: In a nutshell, what does a normal day at the office entail?

MdP: Coffee is always the first order of business! The rest of the day is taken up by various meetings with internal stakeholders to assist them to know and understand the compliance environment and to implement controls to ensure compliance with the various pieces of legislation governing the non-banking financial services world. Attending formal sessions with our regulators, industry bodies and our attorneys is also a big part of an average day at the office.

B7: How would you prescribe the prevailing economic landscape in Namibia and its impact on your industry?

MdP: Tough and very slow to improve. We operate in the tertiary sector of the economy. Given that the primary and secondary sectors are hard-hit by the current tough economic conditions, and many of our customers are from the primary and secondary sectors, this has a negative impact on both the quality and quantity of business secured in the insurance industry.

B7: Why is a healthy regulatory environment important in an economy?

MdP: A healthy regulatory environment creates a safe and certain environment within which both industry participants and their customers can conduct business, secure in the knowledge that everybody’s interests are adequately protected. It delineates the field of play and the rules of the game.

B7: How would you describe the prevailing regulatory environment?

MdP: It is in the process of evolving from a rigid rules-based system to a risk-based system – but we are not quite there yet.

B7: What are the major developments on the local regulatory front?

MdP: The three big developments (and they are closely related) would definitely be the impending Financial Institutions and Markets Bill, the new Namfisa Bill and the Financial Services Adjudicator Bill. Collectively these pieces of legislation will replace most of the current outdated non-banking financial services legislation and formally introduce a risk based supervisory regime for the industry.

B7: What is the anticipated impact on the industry?

MdP: On the one hand the increased volume and complexity of the laws to be complied with will have negative cost impacts, driven mainly by increased direct compliance costs and the system changes that would be necessitated to comply. It may also negatively impact customers’ experience to transact, due to more onerous transactional requirements.

On the other hand, though, it will introduce much needed professionalism and higher standards for all industry participants. Advice standards and transparency are expected to improve, which is great news for customers, but also for industry participants.

B7: Local assets managers are required to invest a sizeable chunk of their assets in Namibia. How much of its assets does Sanlam Namibia invest locally and in which asset classes?

MdP: Sanlam complies with all regulatory requirements in terms of domestic investments – for life insurers, currently the requirement is to invest at least 45% in domestic assets.

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