China seeks greater SA financial co-operation
More than 80 of China's leading fund managers have attended a meeting with the JSE last week, at which they stressed that China seeks greater co-operation with SA's financial markets to break into the rest of Africa.
An SA-China Capital Markets Forum was formed to develop greater investment flows between the two countries.
Li Wei, chairman of Qilu Securities, said: "Chinese companies are now taking active steps to go abroad and develop markets," but added that co-operation with other emerging markets was still at an early stage.
Relations between China and its African partners have in recent years become increasingly regularised and institutionalised, and the two have established a broad range of political, diplomatic, economic, educational, cultural and military ties in an attempt to deepen their strategic partnership.
Frontier Advisory CEO Martyn Davies said greater co-operation between the two fitted China's next growth phase, as the demand for African resources had to be coupled with more sophisticated market trading mechanisms.
He said: "SA and the JSE are ideally positioned to facilitate this trend. China is expected to become Africa's dominant trading partner by 2018, replacing the US and eurozone countries."
China's historical preference for cheap manufacturing and exports is beginning to change with its huge economic growth. About 18 million Chinese jobs have been lost to lower-wage countries, and African countries could gain from such low-wage manufacturing.
Speakers at the meeting emphasised the need for both countries to build on the 2002 memorandum of understanding, in which South Africa and China laid the foundation for greater co-operation in capital markets.
The forum began with a JSE-signed letter of intent for an index product licencewith Chinese fund manager GF to create exchange-traded funds based on the JSE Top 40 index.
Chinese investors can currently trade JSE Top 40 derivative products solely in Hong Kong dollars on the Hong Kong Future Exchange.
JSE market data director Ana Forssman said this would allow for the first direct launch from SA of an exchange traded product in Asia.
"Chinese investors will have exposure to South Africa companies while giving our companies exposure in an important emerging market," she explained.
China became Africa’s largest trading partner in 2009, overtaking France, the UK and the US.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.