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As Pliny the Elder noted, “Ex Africa semper aliquid novi” and there is always something new in Warwick too.
So, we are delighted to bring you the first edition of the new Warwick Wealth Matters.
Each month, we will bring you short, readable commentary on local and international markets, financial product developments, as well as important issues regarding your private wealth, investments and fiduciary services.
We will also update you on relevant company developments such as the expansion of our professional network across the country and the opening of new offices so that we remain close to you, our valued client, at all times.
Wealth Matters is meant to be an interactive publication, so we would encourage and welcome your feedback and any ideas you may have for topics we should cover in future editions.
In the meantime, enjoy the read, take care and remember WEALTH MATTERS!
Sunday 5th June was World Environment Day, which presents an opportune time to profile the stellar work of the Spirit Wildlife Foundation (SWF).
In an ideal world, there would be no need for the SWF, but we live in a world scientists are calling the ‘Anthropocene’, the age of humans. Yet it is an age in which our iconic species are under increasing threat. In fact, species are becoming extinct at a rate 1,000 times faster than they would have without the existence of humans. What an indictment. Alarmingly, whereas human population has doubled since 1970, the number of wild animals has declined by two thirds over the same period. The last time so many species and so much biodiversity was lost was when dinosaurs were wiped out.
I saw for myself the rich tapestry of Africa’s biodiversity while driving all the way down the vast continent over 30 years ago, but today, I have become painfully aware of the very real threat to the continued existence of black and white rhino, as well as our beloved tuskers. It is hard to imagine that today, fewer than 6,000 black rhinos survive and less than 19,000 white. In fact, statistically, within a day of reading this blog another one-to-two rhinos will have been killed by poachers. Given that the vast majority of both species are to be found in South Africa, we have a global duty to preserve and protect them for this and future generations.
This is a core mission of the Spirit Wildlife Foundation. The day-to-day activities of the SWF are headed by Jooles Kilbride, my human dynamo of a wife. An accomplished Australian horsewoman and former stalwart of the South African Riding for the Disabled, Jooles has taken rhino conservation by the horns and built the SWF into what is today. The major contribution made by the SWF is in support of the Care For Wild Sanctuary, which is the largest of its kind in the world. While the SWF provides financial and donor support to CFW, Jooles and the SWF Trustees adopt and support orphaned rhinos literally hand-rearing them through their most vulnerable times, particularly when they have been injured by poachers.
Having had the privilege of nurturing and feeding some of these rescued youngsters myself, I can think of very little else more rewarding in life than helping to save the life of one of these ‘little’ orphans. Every month without fail, Jooles rolls up her sleeves and mucks in to play her part in preserving this endangered species. I will continue to support the SWF as a key part of my own philanthropy, but in order to tackle the scourge of rhino poaching effectively, we need to expand the donor base of the SWF significantly. So, before the loss of even one more rhino and the eventual demise of this and other iconic species, please consider making a contribution to the SWF and do your bit to preserve and protect our desperately threatened African wildlife.
Visit https://spiritf.org/wildlife-foundation/ to make all the difference.
In 1952, a 25-year-old mother of two young children with no formal education was thrust into one of the most challenging and privileged positions in history. 70 years later, there is a myriad of lessons to be learnt from the reign of Queen Elizabeth ll. I am no royalist, but as a businessman, I have respect for the way in which the Queen has run her ‘corporation’ for an unprecedented seven decades now.
First and foremost, to state the obvious, Her Majesty is a woman and has proved male chauvinist sceptics and doubters wrong repeatedly through the decades. After all, it took the UK almost another three decades to elect its first female Prime Minister. Paradoxically perhaps, the monarch did not always see eye-to-eye with her first female head of government, Margaret Thatcher.
Her relationship with the other 13 Prime Ministers who have served under her has been uneven, but always cordial and professional, irrespective of political stripe and persuasion. It is hard to imagine that her first Prime Minister was none other than Sir Winston Churchill and perhaps this was both a baptism of fire, but also the best possible introduction to understanding the machinations of Westminster and British parliamentary politics. To return to the point of corporate lessons and learning from her majesty’s 70-year reign, is the importance of tenacity and consistency irrespective of the difficulties one faces in one’s business career and in running companies. Relatedly, the ability or facility to deal with the widest range of people is a vital ingredient to personal, professional and corporate success.
While always dignified and often formal, her majesty has a warm personal touch with whomever she meets and interacts. She exhibits loyalty and demands loyalty in return and this has resulted in some notable friendships that have endured over the years through thick and thin. In this regard, one of her favoured friendships and indeed confidants was none other than our very own President Nelson Mandela. Indeed, their friendship blossomed to the point of being on first-name terms and exhibiting a very public mutual affection. This could only be achieved by a shared sense of duty and public service. Again, there is another lesson in one’s role as a businessman and chairman/CEO, which is to remain grounded, yet see the bigger picture and purpose in both business and life.
Despite the enormous global schisms and ruptures that have unfolded over the decades, including numerous regional wars, the fall of communism and the end of empire, the monarch has managed to hold her own multinational corporation (the commonwealth) together and she remains a revered and respected figure globally who is the envy of any global CEO.
What then is the overarching lesson the corporate world we can deduce from Her Majesty’s remarkable 70-year reign? I have enunciated a few, but for me, the primary learning is to ensure that one’s company or corporation has a defined and enduring purpose that adds real value to people’s lives day after day.
The effect of inflation on your investment returns
The effects of the supply chain disruptions experienced since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing crisis in the Ukraine have sent the prices of various goods soaring. The most notable effect since the start of the Ukrainian conflict, has been the sharp increase in oil and grain prices.
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Financial Technology (FinTech) has been around longer than most of us would acknowledge, yet millions across the globe remain blithely ignorant of its uses and merits. Sadly, many in the developing world are effectively excluded from deriving full benefit from FinTech, but this is changing. At its most basic and generic level, FinTech is a field of innovation that applies technology to deliver and improve financial services. Perhaps the most common form of FinTech most of us could not live without is the credit card dating all the way back to the 1950s. Today, the most common technological manifestation of FinTech is the use of smartphones to conduct banking, payments, investing and borrowing. In 2020 alone, the value of payments through smartphones exceeded US$ 500 billion. Indeed, FinTech is big business. After a dip in 2020, investment in FinTech for the year 2021 topped some US$210 billion.
At the level of the personal user FinTech, China’s figures are staggering. An Ernst and Young study found that a massive 87% of the country’s digitally active population use at least one FinTech application in their lives. But dangers lurk alongside the unimaged opportunity for FinTech. Much of this relates to personal data privacy and its abuse (by the state, commercial interests and criminals). Regulation lags development and this is something that authorities across the globe are seized with and has resulted in rather heavy-handed intervention by the Chinese state over the past year. The impact of such regulation has been felt by companies ranging from ABC and META, through to ANT and TenCent.
An area of growing interest is the application of FinTech to financial portfolio construction and advice. I am personally not in favour of Robo-Advisors as a replacement for skilled, experienced and qualified personal financial advice. An algorithm simply cannot identify, extract and interpret all pertinent relevant information, including that of personality when constructing and managing a personal portfolio of investments. Nonetheless, there is a place for this sector, particularly among younger, tech-savvy and perhaps for those with a greater risk appetite.
Where I do see merit and a place in the market, is the intelligent design, construction and management of algorithms in financial portfolio management. A Harvard Business Review captures the major merits of algorithms in portfolio management as follows: They can analyse huge quantities of relevant data extremely rapidly; they can identify potentially outperforming equities by finding new patterns in existing data sets; they can make new forms of data analysable, and they can reduce the negative effects of human biases on investment decisions.
Will algorithms replace human intelligence in portfolio design and management? I don’t think so, but as a powerful analytic tool in the armoury of modern portfolio management, FinTech and algorithms are here to stay.