Stricter regulation of South Africa’s financial services industry alone will not restore confidence if it does not ensure a sustainable environment conducive to doing business for the industry, said Johan van Zyl, chairperson of the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (Asisa).
Van Zyl, who is also CEO of Sanlam, says if “regulation does not ensure level playing fields and remove unnecessary barriers to doing business, the financial services industry will not flourish”.
“This is not in the interest of the country and most certainly not in the interest of the consumer,” he said.
He was speaking at the opening of the 2013 Asisa conference in Durban yesterday. The conference was attended by delegates from the savings and investment industry, national treasury, the Financial Services Board, organised labour and other stakeholders. The theme of the two-day conference is Regaining Confidence in the Financial Services Industry.
Van Zyl said rebuilding confidence in the financial services industry, in the face of the euro zone crisis, was a massive challenge that faced not only South Africa but also financial services worldwide.
“Globally, financial services industries are looking at implementing sustainable solutions that will help rebuild the confidence that was dealt a devastating blow by the events of the global financial crisis (currently engulfing most European Union countries).
“Unfortunately this crisis is far from over, with Cyprus the latest casualty,” Van Zyl said.
He praised South Africa’s robust and well-regulated financial system, which did not suffer a single casualty following the financial crisis.
“It remains my firm view that the South African financial services sector does not suffer from the same weaknesses as the European and American sectors.
“I therefore do not believe that we will restore confidence in our industry through regulation alone.”
Van Zyl said key to restoring confidence in financial services was a sustainable environment where appropriate policies and regulations enabled the financial services sector to continue to operate, compete, innovate and deliver solutions for South Africa and its citizens.
He said within a sustainable environment, Asisa and its members would be able to work with stakeholders towards achieving a financial services sector that was trusted by clients and consumers and served their needs.
Reserve bank deputy governor Lesetja Kganyago is expected to address the conference today about the role of the bank in the financial industry.