The South African Association of Treasury Advisors (SAATA) recently launched to facilitate constructive discussion and representation between members and regulators.
Current trends which are pertinent to South Africans include a decrease in confidence in the South African economy and the resulting outflow of funds; an increase in emigrations; and clients requiring more guidance and support around cross border payments. SME importers also need more help to manage the risk of a volatile currency with their profit margins under increased pressure. Lastly, cyber-crime is on the up and treasury advisors are equipped to spot irregularities and potential cyber-crime risks. These trends all speak to the fact that treasury advisors are more relevant than ever before, as they are equipped to interact with and understand the needs of clients.
SAATA represents treasury advisors and foreign exchange intermediaries, servicing the full spectrum of clients from private individuals and SMME’s to large corporates. SAATA is formally mandated by its members to engage with regulators and other stakeholders on various matters including regulatory reform.
Recently SAATA was invited to participate in the FSCA’s Market Conduct Committee (MCC) which facilitates regular engagement between the FSCA and the financial services industry.
SAATA’s members’ Treasury Advisors have expertise in the sector including knowledge of how payments have evolved, how to navigate the complexities of exchange control, as well as the impact a volatile currency has for both private individuals and corporate companies. Members of SAATA all bring a wealth of international experience in global compliance best practice and AML procedures; commitment to support small business development and entrepreneurialism; and an understanding of the international advancements in the fintech space. This is key as they can predict and plan for how these global developments could impact international payments processing in the future.
“Many of the businesses in our sector are SMMEs and owner managed – becoming members of SAATA brings us closer and enables us to share our concerns and experiences that may impact the sector,” comments SAATA Chairman, Richard Beddow.
SAATA could not have been established at a more opportune time, as the SME sector is the most vulnerable segment of the economy but as major employers, they will be key to turning the economy around and driving growth.
Beddow adds, “Now, more than ever, clients are faced with choice in the financial services sector, and SAATA members can offer this to both private and corporate clients”.
Jill Wilmans, secretary of SAATA comments, “SAATA creates an opportunity to set industry benchmarks, enable collective transformation and focus on skills development in the industry. It will also give clients comfort on the integrity of the sector. This is increasingly relevant as digital currencies challenge the traditional systems, and treasury advisors are best placed to support clients to adapt.”
Although it’s the first of its kind in South Africa, there are similar industry bodies internationally, so SAATA can look to global best practice for members to adopt as transformation in the industry. SAATA requires all members (currently there are 42) to sign a binding Statement of Commitment to adhere to the 2018 FX Global Code published by the Global Foreign Exchange Committee. This set of principles of good practice for foreign exchange market participants aims to promote the integrity and effective functioning of the foreign exchange market.
Carlos Martins, SAATA vice Chair, explains that “With the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) coming in to effect, lots of change taking place in the industry, opportunistic business and global compliance standards increasing, now is the perfect time for SAATA to influence the industry.”
Looking ahead, SAATA also has the potential to influence the FSCA to establish an accredited training program specific to the industry, which will ensure members and their staff will be better skilled to service the clients in South Africa.
In closing, Ras Theron, SAATA Executive, says, “We encourage all treasury advisors to join this highly motivated association, and all South Africans to support SAATA members. SMEs in particular can benefit from tailored support and advice from treasury advisors. This will help prevent international unregulated entities operating in South Africa, charging exorbitant fees and trading for clients in ways that are not compliant with SARB exchange control. Let’s get behind this industry body created to drive growth and transformation in our industry and be part of the solution to boost the South African economy.”