Maya Fisher French

Getting Mama her money

First National Bank (FNB) has obtained a 67,74% reach in under-serviced areas over the past two years in its drive to meet the Financial Sector Charter targets, which require 80% of low-income earners to be within 15km of a banking facility. The roll-out of 1 400 mini-ATMs across the country has been a major part of FNB's strategy to reach isolated communities.

Getting the private investor on to the JSE

South Africans are lagging far behind the Australians when it comes to investing directly into shares on the JSE. In South Africa about 200 000 private investors invest directly into shares rather than through mutual funds or pension funds. That figure for Australia is 5,7-million. There are many lessons South Africa can learn from the Australian stock exchange.

CGT is starting to bite

Capital gains tax (CGT) will have been in effect for four years next month, and people are starting to feel the effects of the tax on their profits. ''In the first few years asset prices had not risen that much, but now we are seeing a boom in both the property market and the share market and the capital gains are much higher,'' says Tony Barrett, regional manager at BJM Private Client Services.

Affordable offshore investing

For Deutsche Bank and the JSE, the launch of Itrix, their range of international exchange traded funds (ETFs), could not have come at a better time amid fierce public debate on fund management fees. An ETF is a basket of shares that passively tracks an underlying index and is itself listed on a stock exchange.

It pays to shop around

In the United Kingdom the average person remortgages their home every two years. In fact, 50% of all new mortgage advances are switches with people moving from one mortgage lender to another in search of a better lending rate. This is because in the UK mortgages are viewed as a commodity rather than something attached to your bank account.

Beware of unecessary extras

The Credit Bill, which is currently being tabled before Parliament, has highlighted the practice of credit life insurance when purchasing a vehicle. The aim of this insurance is to pay out the outstanding debt on the vehicle should you die or are unable to make some of your repayments, either through disability or retrenchment.

Investing in a hot market

With the JSE Securities Exchange galloping past the 15 200 mark after another meteoric rise of 22% so far this year, one has to question whether it is wise to be investing in shares at the moment. Or is the market reaching the sort of temperature that could cause burns?

Your fund manager: Friend or foe?

South Africans tend to invest solely in actively managed funds, yet the latest study on active versus passive management released by Deutsche Securities suggests that active managers do not always add value relative to their costs, and that passive funds have a fundamental role in an investment portfolio.

Getting into Google and Microsoft

South Africans, by and large, have been reluctant to invest offshore while the South African markets have been relatively strong and the rand staged an amazing recovery, making it one of the strongest currencies in the world over the past three years. Recent rand weakness will have tempted some investors to look offshore again, but investing offshore is not just about hedging your rand bets.

Nursing the RA, a very sick patient

The ongoing fracas around the retirement annuity business will no doubt have a deeply negative impact on our savings rate. Currently, South Africa's savings rate is among the lowest in the world at just under 15% of gross domestic product a fraction of the 36% savings rate of South-East Asia.

Life industry in the dock

On Monday Sanlam will be the first life insurance company to challenge the ruling of the pension fund adjudicator in the case of Mr de Beer in the Cape High Court. De Beer wanted to reduce the premium on his policy. Sanlam sought to penalise him R43 000 -- the value of the policy was R46 000.

Policy surrenders top R20-billion

Last year R20,5-billion worth of individual life investment products were surrendered before maturity. This represents a staggering 26% of the R74-billion the life companies received from total individual premium income last year. When one compares this figure with individual premium income from new business last year, for every R2 of new business written, R1 was lost to surrender.

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