The 2016-17 Global Competitiveness Report ranks South Africa 11th out of 138 countries for our financial market development. In a report card that even the toughest parent would be proud of we scooped first place for financing through our local equity markets; second place for financial services' ability to meet business needs; second place for the soundness of our banks; and third place for the regulation of our securities exchanges. What a pity that we forget to celebrate these achievements!
The Financial Intermediaries Association of Southern Africa (FIA), which represents financial advisors and insurance brokers in multiple financial services disciplines, is proud to be part of a world class financial services sector. “We value the contribution that insurers, investment firms and medical schemes companies make to our economy and we welcome the contribution that FIA members make in advising consumers on insurance and investment products,” says Gareth Stokes, communications manager at the FIA.
The association celebrates the contributions that the industry makes to society through the annual FIA Awards, now in its 19th year. The Awards is an opportunity to recognise those product suppliers that make it easier for intermediaries to deliver positive outcomes for consumers of financial product.Why are the FIA Awards important to consumers?
The FIA is a trade association that represents a wide range of financial intermediaries, including employee benefit consultants, financial planning advisors, medical schemes brokers and short term insurance brokers. A consumer who needs life and disability insurance, medical aid cover, personal lines and commercial lines insurance cover, a retirement plan or any other financial solution will most likely be advised by an FIA member.
Our members, in turn, rely on banks, insurers, investment firms and medical schemes to offer innovative products that live up to their promise. The ideal consumer outcome is a mix of good financial advice plus world class financial product. “The FIA Awards are important because they recognise those firms that go the extra mile to assist intermediaries in delivering top quality services and solutions to their clients, the end-consumer,” says Gareth Stokes, communications manager at the FIA.
“Although product suppliers walk away with the accolades on the night, the awards are also a celebration of the value that financial advisers, insurance brokers and other financial advice professionals bring to the industry,” he says.How does the FIA determine the Awards winners?
The FIA uses an independent firm to conduct a comprehensive survey of its members. For 2017 the well-known survey company, Ask Afrika, has been appointed to run with the process. They will be responsible for managing and collating results by way of an extensive two-stage survey which includes a digital survey of FIA members followed by a round of detailed telephone interviews.
At present the FIA Awards serve three main purposes: Firstly to provide FIA members with an opportunity to ‘rate’ the product providers that they do business with; secondly to provide a consistent benchmark for product suppliers to assess their performance in the intermediated distribution space; and finally to educate the broader public about the value of financial advice. Over time it will expand to consider key industry issues such as the fair treatment of consumers; improved access to financial services; and transformation in the financial services sector.
“One of the reasons we contracted with Ask Afrika was their tremendous understanding of the consumer segment and we expect that the survey will expand from one that considers intermediaries’ views of product suppliers to one that reflects the experience of consumers as they ‘buy’ insurance or investment policies,” says Stokes.
“We want to know what makes consumers tick in order to better illustrate the value of the financial advice that is offered to them by our members, South Africa’s financial advisors and insurance brokers”.Getting ready for the 2017 event
The 2017 FIA Awards will take place on 8 June and planning for the important function is at an advanced stage. The team tasked with determining this year’s winners is ‘in the field’ and thousands of FIA members have already completed their assessments of the insurers and investment firms that they interact with.
“We are looking forward to another opportunity to acknowledge the product providers that go out of their way to empower our members to do what they do best,” concludes Stokes. “And that is to provide excellent financial advice and structured solutions to meet the consuming publics exacting needs." The 2017 FIA Awards will take place on 8 June 2017 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.