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What happens to your investments after your death?

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By Jaco Prinsloo, certified financial planner at Alexforbes

Financial planning regarding the succession of investments is rarely carried out, at least in South Africa. As a result, potential heirs are often not sure what to do or where to start to claim and settle a loved ones investments. In many cases, the family is unaware of the existence of an investment portfolio. With succession planning, the transfer of assets (whether property, your bank accounts, cars or investments) is facilitated.

Today I want to focus on investment and the succession planning of investments, specifically discretionary investments, compulsory investments and policies. The type of investment will determine how the assets and proceeds get distributed, so we first need to look at the different investment types:

Discretionary investments

Discretionary investments are any investment you make with after tax money at your own discretion. Discretionary investments include:

  • Unit trusts
  • Money market accounts
  • Fixed deposits
  • South African retail bonds
  • Share portfolios
  • Tax free savings accounts

Jaco Prinsloo

These investments will form part of your estate and will be subject to estate duty and executor’s fees. However allthou a tax-free savings account forms part of your estate there are no executor’s fees payable. The proceeds from the investments will be distributed as per your Will to your nominated beneficiaries after your estate has been settled. Because these investments form part of your estate the investments will be “frozen” and no transaction or changes can be made to the investments until the proceeds are paid to the estate.

Investment and Life Policies

Life insurance is a type of insurance contract where you agree to pay premiums to keep your life cover active. If you pass away, the life insurance company will pay the life cover benefit directly to your nominated beneficiaries, which can be a person or your estate.

You also get investment policies like living annuities and endowment policies where the investment value pays to the nominated beneficiaries on your passing. One benefit of investment and life policies is that it does not form part of your estate, which means no estate duty and the proceeds get paid directly to your nominated beneficiaries giving them access to cash while they wait for the estate to be wind up. Making it an essential part of anyone’s overall financial plan.

Compulsory investments

Compulsory investments are investments which are compulsory with some employers. Working for some companies you might be required to be part of a provident or pension fund as part of your employment contract. Compulsory investments might also offer some tax benefits but investors have limited access to their money and these investments are governed by Regulation 28 stipulating where and how you can invest. Compulsory investments can be summarised as “retirement funds” and include:

  • Pension fund
  • Provident fund
  • Retirement annuity fund
  • Preservation funds

The proceeds from retirement funds are distributed as per Section 37C of the Pension Fund Act.

Which means the trustees of the fund will use their discretion to distribute the proceeds of your retirement savings to insure all dependents and beneficiaries receive equal and fair benefits. Belonging to a retirement fund you will be required to nominate beneficiaries but its important to remember the beneficiary nomination is seen as a guide to the trustees or a “wish list” and the ultimate decision on how the benefits get distributed lies with the trustees of the fund.

As shown above, it is important to keep your Will and nominated beneficiaries updated on your policies and retirement funds. So how to plan for succession?

The first step is to talk to your family members about your investments and the administrator of these investments. Secondly you can create an organised folder with all the documentation of your investments, policies, copy of your Will and personal documents like your ID copy and bank statements. Your family does not need to know the value of the investments but the knowledge of the investments and where to find all your important documents will make it easier for them to start the claim process. Speak to a certified financial planner for advice on your beneficiary nominations and to formalise your wishes in a document, thus setting up a will.

Banking

Digital Acceleration – the next buzzword in banking tech? Or a new era for the industry?

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By

Ove Kreison, CTO at Tuum

McKinsey’s latest report on banking found that traditional banks are spending a whopping 85% of their tech budgets on maintaining legacy solutions, with just 15% going towards building anything new for customers.

Digital transformation’ has been the buzzword in banking technology for years, but the figures suggest there’s still a lot of ‘transforming’ left to be desired. Now we’re beginning to see the term ‘digital acceleration’ come to the fore, what does that mean for the state of banking technology? What is the difference between acceleration and transformation, and what should banks and other financial services players do to remain competitive?

Digital transformation – the second machine age which has taken an age!

The idea of ‘digital transformation’ didn’t come out of the blue. Banking – like most other industries post-WW2 – has been experiencing the ‘second machine age’ for decades, exploring how technology can digitize processes and services to make cost, operational and organisational efficiencies. All the while, this process has also made it far easier for companies to be more competitive with new digital products that are slicker, quicker and more user-friendly.

Banks have benefited from wherever they have had digital transformation to date – but it is the digital transformation of core technology stacks that is having the most impact and making banks realise operational efficiencies while making them nimbler to adapt to changing customer needs and remain relevant and competitive in a highly disrupted market.  Digital transformation to the core gives banks the ability to launch new offerings to market quicker, renovate and modernize business models, leverage and analyse data from multiple systems taking innovation of the more exciting front-end and customer centric offerings to the next level.  Faster speed to market,  highly personalised offerings, more agile, more scalable.

Success and progress to date, however, has been slow. Traditional banks especially are lumbered with highly complex and costly core technology stacks. Digital transformation and upgrading these core stacks still remains a priority, but the next wave of digital acceleration is now an urgent priority on the c-suite agenda to ensure banks compete and survive in a rapidly evolving industry.

Digital Acceleration vs Digital Transformation

Digital transformation at its core takes the existing ways companies have run their business and applies new technologies to digitize them – for example, taking a paper-based application process and making it online.

Digital acceleration is different. Here, digital becomes the very core of the business model, creating further new digital processes. It gives the power to not just make existing processes digital but to reimagine how those processes impact and improve the business. Some of the most forward-thinking banks are already doing this. BBVA, the second biggest bank in Spain, is actively and openly seeking to become a software company in the future and has digital at the heart of its offering. It embraced open innovation and new technologies to better serve its customers – for example, it launched an app-based money transfer offering, Tuyyo, in 2017. It’s also exploring how technologies like blockchain can be used to transform fundamental banking services such as loan origination, with the aim of improving the way it runs its businesses.

Co-Value Creation – Going it Alone isn’t an Option

A core facet of digital acceleration – especially in a highly mature and saturated market like banking – will be how banks, fintechs, enterprises and others collaborate to mobilise these more diverse capabilities and expertise, bringing mutual benefits to all parties.

The pace of technological change is so hypercompetitive to the point now where organisations cannot always sustain their competitive advantage or ‘do it all’. Constantly updating your offering to maintain market share and react to new demands has become a necessity for banks, but it is exhausting. More and more banks and FS providers are realising that the strategic resources and capabilities needed to deliver these innovative services lie outside of their business, and given the fast pace of change, developing everything in-house is unrealistic given the skills gap, time and cost constraints. Moreover, tech advances around integration and APIs mean collaborating with third-party experts has never been easier or more effective to bring capabilities that, combined with their own core offerings and customer data, provide an important competitive advantage and valuable proposition for customers.

One brilliant example of this is ING. Recognising the struggles associated with traditionally manual and paper-intensive trade finance processes, it launched a blockchain-based commodities financing platfrom Komgo in 2018 with a consortium of other banks and corporates like Société Général, Citi, and Mercuria. In an age of hypercompetition – mutually beneficial collaboration is the answer.

Transform, accelerate, create

Ultimately, banks can continue to digitally transform while also looking to digitally accelerate. In fact, the two go hand in hand; in order to reap the benefits and be able to consider platform co-creation and digital acceleration, banks need to transform their tech stacks from the core to have the capability and agility to think beyond the realms of their own core business and their own technology. Those that get it right by driving innovation from the core, are reimagining their business models for the digital age, tapping into new revenue streams and becoming more customer-centric are not only more relevant now but future proofed for digital acceleration of the future.

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Finance

Regulations, RegTech and CBDCs – Fintech’s Next Chapter 

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By

Teresa Cameron, Finance Director at Clear Junction 

 

Over the last decade, the UK has embraced the fintech revolution with open arms. The remarkable growth and innovation in recent years has transformed the way financial services are delivered and accessed. In the UK, fintech accounts for around half of venture capital in the UK, and as we race to meet consumer demand, we’re seeing the development of new services flood the market: from digital wallets to AI chatbots, biometrics and touch IDs.

London is recognised globally as a crucial hub for fintech innovation, yet with this great power comes great responsibility. Both the FTX and SVB collapses dented trust in fintech, and this has translated into a dip in venture capital investment in the industry, which declined globally by 30%.

2022 was called fintech’s year of reckoning, but 2023 stands as the year to rebuild and we need to recognise that regulation is not a scary word. Now is our chance to be part of the next evolution in fintech, that will solidify it as an accredited and stable industry. By leading the charge now, we can make sure we have a say on what the future of fintech will look like.

Sustainable practices = sustainable growth

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is set to implement its Consumer Duty in the upcoming months. Whereas before, the FCA has broadly been reactive, this will be the first time that the FCA will be formally setting out regulation and will have a proactively structured programme.

One of the most important aspects is to make sure that financial services put the interests of their customers at the heart of their business operations. This means a higher standard of protection across the industry and providing consumers with transparent information, as well as making sure that staff are trained and held accountable.

This is a huge step to regain trust in the industry right now and help raise the bar in what we can offer consumers. Change begins from the inside and by closely working with regulators and adhering to their guidelines, fintechs in the UK can benefit from the increased trust and confidence in the digital currency ecosystem. This approach not only protects consumers and investors but also means that we can bolster the legitimacy and viability of digital currencies as an alternative to traditional financial systems.

Regtech Revolution

It’s estimated that globally $2trillion is laundered annually, and the threat of financial criminals continues to rise as they become more sophisticated and utilise new technology, either through payments, open banking, or crypto. This, twinned with new global regulations and increasing compliance costs, means the need for innovative solutions in the regtech industry has never been greater.

We’ve seen an explosion in AI and machine learning (ML) tech to help better protect customers, and they have completely transformed the regtech space. These technologies can be used to analyse vast amounts of data and identify patterns that may indicate fraudulent activities. The algorithms can detect anomalies, flag suspicious transactions, and continuously learn from new data to improve fraud detection capabilities over time. That’s not to say that its completely fool proof. Continuous monitoring, regular updates, and staying abreast of emerging fraud trends will also be crucial.

At the same time, as the regulatory landscape becomes more complex and we see new rules develop over time, this tech will help fintechs mitigate risk management practices and maintain compliance in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

CBDCs and decentralized finance 

Central bank digital currencies (CBDC) have been a hot topic of conversation, with pilot initiatives underway globally. Most recently the European Central Bank is currently said to start with proposed legislation in the next several weeks and here in the UK the Bank of England is also blueprinting plans for the ‘Britcoin.’

Digital currency backed by a central bank has been heralded to be a safe and stable means of payment and less volatile than crypto. However, some are concerned over privacy and anonymity surrounding a state-owned currency.

Tom Mutton, who is leading the Britcoin charge, has stated that the BoE never sought to make the digital pound anonymous, and that privacy will be a top priority. Under the Bank’s proposals, consumers would engage with the digital pound through private sector providers. With the increasing integration of digital currencies into mainstream operations, in the UK and abroad, both the government and financial institutions are showing growing interest in making sure there is a stable foundation of regulation as it develops.

Following regulations can pave the way for digital currency companies to tap into traditional banking services, which is crucial for their growth and overall success. Banks tend to be cautious about partnering with digital currency companies due to perceived risks associated with the industry. However, when these companies demonstrate compliance with regulations, it helps alleviate those concerns and makes banks more willing to collaborate.

We are at the beginning of a new age in the fintech space, and it’s an exciting place to be. We, as financial intuitions, have an opportunity to help write the next chapter. It is a long road to map out ahead, but we need to look for sustainable, long-term practices because, ultimately, that equals sustainable long-term growth, and fundamentally means survival for the industry.

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