Financial Skills Shortage is Critical, Province Intervenes to Meet Demand
A lack of skills in the financial services sector in the Western Cape has been listed as a critical issue, according to a joint report released last night.
The Western Cape Government, in partnership with the Faculty of Commerce at the University of Cape Town, last night (25 March 2014) released the first Financial Services Sector Assessment Report which outlines the state of one of the province’s most lucrative industries.
Drawing on research and surveys from executives in the top financial services firms, the report outlines the sector’s growth prospects, risks, new opportunities and skills. The report covers firms in insurance, banking and asset management.
Key findings of the report were tabled at the inaugural African Financial Services Forum held in Cape Town last night. A lack of skills in the sector emerged as a key concern. Many of the firms interviewed cited this as a critical issue.
Alan Winde, Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, said measures had already been taken to address the skills gap in the sector.
Industry stakeholders are working with the provincial Department of Economic Development and Tourism and UCT to develop a financial services strategy to address the sector’s skills needs and support growth.
In January, the Western Cape Government, UCT, Barclays Africa Group, FirstRand and Liberty launched the African Institute of Financial Markets and Risk Management (AIFMRM). One of its key aims is to meet the demands of industry for skills in the banking, risk management and financial market sectors by developing local talent.
Minister Winde said: “Platforms such as the African Financial Services Forum and the African Institute of Financial Markets and Risk Management are proactively driving steps to meet the needs of the financial services industry. Proposed skills development initiatives will equip young people with the skills the industry requires.
“We are positioning Cape Town and South Africa as the authoritative hub for African Financial Market intelligence. The Western Cape’s financial services sector will be ready to do business in Africa and around the world, generating widespread growth and job opportunities,” said Minister Winde.
Minister Winde said skills development was one of the Western Cape Government’s key focus areas.
“The Western Cape Government has set itself the target of contributing 3000 jobs to the financial services sector by 2019. Key in reaching this goal is ensuring that the needs of the industry and tertiary institutions are aligned,” said Minister Winde.
Professor Don Ross, Dean of Commerce at UCT described the significance of the report: “The release of this report represents a crucial preliminary assessment regarding what must be done to leverage the potential for growth and new diversity in the Western Cape financial services industry. We're proud that UCT's researchers from AIFMRM are the best positioned experts to begin this effort. The first step toward a serious strategy is gaining accurate understanding of the challenges and opportunities. The report released last night takes firm and clear steps down that path.”
The Director of AIFMRM, Prof David Taylor said the report highlighted the complexity of the skills shortage.
“The operations of financial services companies are multi-disciplinary as the working environment and roles have become increasingly complex. Companies need graduates with sound technical skills as a foundation, but also with holistic skills and wide-ranging competencies. Frequently, graduates entering the sector lack specific knowledge about financial services, its role in the economy, product knowledge and an understanding of the business operating model. Despite the increasingly quantitative nature of finance, the production of mathematically literate graduates remains low. AIFMRM is focused on addressing the scarcity of specialist Quantitative, Mathematical, Investment and Risk Management skills across the financial services sector,” said Prof Taylor.
Cassim Coovadia , MD of the Banking Association of South Africa, said: "The financial sector is the oil that lubricates the engine that is the economy. South Africa's financial sector is rated amongst the best in the world and must be seen by all stakeholders as an important asset. Financial sector professionals need to be technically skilled, but also have to be equipped to pro-actively address complex socio-economic issues impacting on the sustainability of the sector. In SA, such professionals must also be skilled in dealing with transformation and management of stakeholders. The Financial Sector Assessment Report identifies the critical skills sets and is an important indicator of how we should develop financial sector professionals. The AIFMRM has the potential to play a critical role in offering the courses to develop these professionals. We look forward to working with the institute."
Mr Shuray Bux
Deputy Director: Financial Services
Trade and Sector Development
Department of Economic Development and Tourism
Tel: 021 483 9836
Spokesperson for Minister Alan Winde
Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism
Western Cape Government
Tel: 021 483 3550
Cell: 082 454 4365