South Africa’s savings rate remains very low. While most South Africans continue to face high indebtedness and a culture of consumption as opposed to saving, there seems to be a correlation between career success and personal financial acumen. Tshepo Matseba spoke to some of the country’s notable professionals about their relationship with money. Their insights are significantly consistent...

Kganki Matabane (KM) is the chief executive of the Black Business Council (BBC), a confederation that represents black professional business associations and chambers. Prior to this, he was the chief operating officer of Sentech Ltd. Matabane also serves on various private and public sector boards. He started his career as a secondary school teacher in the rural village of Mafefe in Limpopo and attributes his success to his formal and informal mentors, ranging from the late Lot Ndlovu to Mpho Makwana, among others.

Zandile Kabini (ZK) is a portfolio manager at Eskom Holdings and holds a number of roles, including non-executive director at Boxing South Africa and non-executive director at Broadband Infraco. She is a young female ICT professional with a unique combination of business experience and technical skills, able to combine business requirements with technical applications. She has 18 years' working experience that encompass 14 years’ experience in ICT and the last 4 years in corporate planning.

South Africa’s savings rate remains very low. While most South Africans continue to face high indebtedness and a culture of consumption as opposed to saving, there seems to be a correlation between career success and personal financial acumen. Three business leaders share their insights on success and money.

Lolly Chibi (LC), a business and marketing professional with 22 years’ experience in the technical and marketing fields, has assumed leadership roles in companies within industries such as water management, mining, safety and security, energy and chemical industries. She is currently the global corporate marketing manager in a South African-born business, Dust-A-Side, which offers dust management solutions to the mining industry. Chibi is a non-executive director in a steel supplier and fabrication company, Duvha Liswa.

How do you relate to money?

KM: Having grown up in a very poor family one learnt the reality of resource scarcity at a young age. As such, I have always been careful not to spend money carelessly and have been called a miser several times.

ZK: It’s never been easy to manage money. But having a budget is the first step from which money management will evolve as it allows one to live within her means. It also enforces me to spend less than I earn every month. Other aspects for consideration are allocating funds for short-term savings and investments on a monthly basis to cater for emergencies.

LC: One of the most important aspects of ensuring success is to make sure that your finances are in order. I constantly stick to a monthly budget and never exceed my limits. Money does not control my life, however, I appreciate its value and purpose.

Do you have a financial plan?

KM: I have had a financial plan for more than 15 years. It is important to plan for the now and for the future. One should ensure that one does not retire into poverty.

ZK: I have a financial plan to set and manage my short- and long-term financial requirements and decisions.

LC: Definitely! Financial planning is an extremely important process. A financial plan is imperative to achieve your goals and dreams while also negotiating the financial barriers that inevitably arise in every stage of life, especially when you least expect it.

Do you have a professional financial advisor?

KM: Yes, I have an experienced and well qualified financial advisor. We meet at least once a year or as and when there is a significant development such as changing jobs or concluding a business transaction. We don’t necessarily agree all the time but I take his advice, including persuading me to have a will.

ZK: I do use the services of a professional financial advisor for advisory services on long-term investment options considering the country’s economic climate. We meet as and when the need arises from my side.

LC: Absolutely yes! I am nothing without my financial advisor - to such an extent that I consider him to be my personal wealth manager. Over the past few years I have developed a unique bond with my financial advisor, I meet with him at least twice a year to review my portfolio and I am in constant contact with him – we frequently chat about general financial topics over WhatsApp.

Have you ever done a financial needs analysis?

KM: Yes. Its state was depressing at the beginning with a lot of catch-up to do but it has since improved marginally with time. It gets updated at least once a year.

ZK: I do a financial needs analysis on an annual basis. It is a blueprint for my financial decisions.

LC: Yes, I do this with my financial advisor annually.

Which financial instruments or investment vehicles do you use?

KM: Mainly shares and unit trusts in listed companies as well as a retirement annuity. Most of my investments are in properties. I like the appreciation in value.

ZK: I invest in share schemes, properties, unit trusts, Bitcoin, online trading. I intend to further explore cash and stock market and commodities soon.

LC: My investment vehicles are retirement annuities, endowments, unit trusts. For risk cover, I have medical aid, life, severe illness and disability cover. The property market is my main investment tool and I have a keen eye for finding potential in unique avenues.

When you changed jobs or roles, what did you do with your pension/provident fund?

KM: I used to cash it when I was young but now I transfer it to an investment instrument, such as a living annuity.

ZK: I have never cashed in my retirement savings. I simply transferred my savings from one retirement vehicle to another. Retirement savings should always be used for the right purpose.

LC:  I added it to my new pension fund.

How do you save for a holiday or rainy days?

KM: Difficult as it is with my share of the "black tax", I save some money every month.

ZK:  I save for holidays through the extra income I make in the boards I serve on.

LC: A portion of my income goes to a charitable organisation. Thereafter, I save a portion of my income, which I allocate for rainy days, and another portion is allocated towards my annual international vacation.

A lot of professionals are successful career-wise but battle with their financial affairs. There is overindebtedness, and other financial shortfalls. How do you stay put?

KM: I have long stopped trying to keep up with the Joneses. Most people try to impress the world and by that they get into financial challenges. Fortunately, I have long passed the stage of trying to impress anyone. I try and live within my means. I also change cars after 10 years and use the savings towards my home loan.  

ZK: The principle is simple. I have learned and continue to strive to live within my means. There’s no point in trying to impress other people with money you don’t have.

LC: I live within my means and I do not have credit cards. I use my property investments as a sound business base for my personal investments. Again, I feel the need to reiterate the importance of having a financial advisor guiding you.

What is your view on cryptocurrencies? Do you invest in Bitcoin?

KM: I am not an adventurous person naturally and believe mostly in things that I can see and touch. As such, I am still trying to understand what this animal is.

ZK: My view is that cryptocurrency is a digital asset with high cybersecurity protection. Like any other investment, cryptocurrency is also associated with risks; hence some investors lost money in the investments. As an ICT professional, I use Bitcoin as it remains at an over 50% profit-making score as compared to other cryptocurrency investments.

LC: I think it is an extremely risky and fluid investment base. If you have excess funds to play with and are willing to lose it all then you can consider investing in cryptocurrency. I have looked at Bitcoin and have had numerous discussions with Bitcoin fanatics and staunch believers of cryptocurrency. Those that invested when Bitcoin was initially introduced are probably the ones that are in a slightly better position. However the sustainability of its value is uncertain and I am not convinced it will be around for long or yield the required return for its investors. An unregulated investment vehicle is always a risk. Therefore, I do not prefer to pursue the cryptocurrency route. Call me sceptical all you like.