The SAUMA Conference 2016

sauma lombardThe annual South African Underwriting Managers Association (SAUMA) Conference took place on Friday 6 May and provided a diverse mix of speakers to address the attendees. The event was kicked off with Tersia Davey introducing the various sponsors of the event, in particular our associate Lombard Partnerships. iTOO sponsored the drinks at the conference (no small task for over 400 delegates) while CN&CO provided social media support for the event. On the topic of social media, have a look at the value of it and why you should care.

The first speaker was the ever-insightful Carolyn Da Silva from the Financial Services Board (FSB). She managed to recap topics of RDR, the COFI act, the importance of having FSP licenses and the trends over time that legislation has impacted on the industry. Legislation, current or proposed, is always a contentious topic but Da Silva reminded the audience of why and how the FSB is there to work with the industry, rather than the perception that some hold of “against it”.

Alan Knott-Craig Junior then took to the stage with a somewhat humorous and optimistic take on why the future of South Africa is bright despite current events. One idea he touched on was South Africans are very good at telling everyone about things that are very bad in the country, with the flip side being that we are very bad at telling people about things that are very good. Case in point, the rise and fall of Mxit, a homegrown South African tech success story  which Knott-Craig acquired in 2011. At the time, Mxit was far ahead of twitter in terms of users and traffic but very few South Africans know the extent of the company’s success. Adding to (what was ultimately) his setback of acquiring Mxit, Knott-Craig is now partnering with municipalities (notably Tshwane) to provide free, fast wireless internet with Project Isizwe. With 1000 sites  in the Tshwane district providing 500 megs per device per day, at speeds of up to 15 Mbps, it is entirely free for anyone to use. His belief that the internet will save the country, and ultimately the world, is one of optimistic hope that he is turning into a reality.

Other speakers included Wayne Duvenhage from Outa talking about the “Barometer of trust and civil disengagement in society”. The topic of e-tolls firmly divides public opinion and it will be interesting to see what the ultimate result of the Sanral initiative is in the near future. Letlhogonolo Tau from Sasria spoke about the impact of civil strikes like #FeesMustFall and how the organisation deals with claims in the public space. Wrapping up the conference was Ferial Haffajee, editor of the City Press newspaper. Her topic was the state of the nation and everything that comes with it in an election year. Ferial’s comments were poignant and optimistic about the future of the country and ended the conference on a high note.

Thanks to Christine, Natasja and the rest of the SAUMA team for organising the event and providing a solid networking opportunity for all involved, coupled with interesting and relevant speakers.