Enabling solutions crafted with care

Intasure Life exists in order to enable financial solutions for our clients.

Mr President, should we trust that you intend doing the right things to get this country back onto a growth path?

We’ve heard the state of the nation address.  We now ask ourselves if Cyril Ramaphosa really wants what we want & what he says he wants, i.e. does

 he really want to stop the raping and pillaging of our country’s coffers & to stimulate investment so that employers are keen to put their hard-earned

 capital where we need it.  Does he really want the workers to work for a wage that is realistic & not just to have an excuse to stand in line for another

 hand-out to correct the ills of the past?  Does he really want to rid the civil society of scoundrels?  Does he want to bring our different nations & tribes

 together to build up this country again? 

 

We see urban decay and we see rural neglect in this beautiful country as millions of people from north of the Limpopo compete with the unskilled local

 poor for scarce jobs & this leads to despondency & crime. 

 

We see a population growing in the number of mouths that need to be fed, but not in dedicated teachers and disciplined learners (pupils to most of us

 older folk), not in caring nurses who value their jobs no matter how hard they have to work.  We see the destitute hanging on for dear life, we see the

 previously disenfranchised recently enfranchised but not empowered economically, we see the rich not willing to share their capital with those who

 they regard as being undeserving, we see most believing that their lot is not improving & we see the politicians & the gangs & other hardened criminals

 getting richer so much faster than almost anyone else in this country, so many then end up looking to joining these skebenga’s to change the quality of 

 their lives.  This needs to be changed. 

 

People with limited means (about 40million of us) must begin to believe that they have a chance of living a financially secure life through being solid,

 principled citizens who work hard & who contribute to the community around them.     

 

Are the symptoms that we see in our society today simply signs of a radically changing world which is busy with a short term struggle to adapt to

 globalization, mechanization (high tech & AI) & urbanization like many other developing countries?  Or are these the symptoms of a nation that is

 largely incapable of creativity, productivity & competitiveness due to factors that are virtually irreversible even if we have a miraculous

 turnaround in the quality of our teaching & education in general?

 

Do the majority of our peoples in South Africa have the moral fibre required to build a great nation such as Nelson Mandela dreamed of

 or are we fooling ourselves in still living that dream?

 

Is our latest president speaking from the heart when he utters the smooth rhetoric that he is known for when he’s speaking to potential global investors

 at international conventions such as the economic forum in Davos, or is he just saying what he knows they want to hear, while deep down he’s actually

 driven by taking from the rich & giving what they have to the poor?   

 

Mr President, what are you really made of?  We need to know, right now.  That also goes for our cabinet ministers, our ministers of parliament, our civil

 servants & other leaders in civil society.      

Is the future any more uncertain this time round? The future is always uncertain, at least we have our eyes wide open in January 2019

As this is my first newsletter of 2019, may I wish you all a very happy & healthy new year.  In South Africa we also emphasize personal safety as a  

 priority when wishing our friends, families and customers well, so I would like to wish you & your loved ones a safe year ahead too, especially as we

 have a general election in about 4 months’ time.

 

We have begun this year with our eyes wide open, this a little different from most years when it normally takes a while for trends to be established.

 

Two years ago though, China triggered a global market wobble, while after a seemingly benign January, 2018 soon became a difficult year for most,

 especially for Emerging Market countries. 

 

Brexit is clearly the most popular topic of discussion internationally, while renewed chaos in Zimbabwe keeps South Africans and ex-Rhodesians or ex-

Zimbabweans awake at night all over again.

 

Because these various global or regional issues are at the top of mind, will we manage to muddle through them without markets collapsing & (in other

 words) will we deal with them better? 

 

Our attitudes are critical in determining our behavior in general day to day life & they are still so when making our investment decisions.  These

 feelings (they really should be reached after logical analysis which leads to perceptions which in turn affect our feelings). 

 

So then, what do we South Africans who have valuable assets such as property, stocks & capital market investments in our portfolios, think will happen

 in the world’s stock markets over the next year?  Or should I reword that and ask “What do we think will happen in our local & in overseas equity,

 government & corporate bond markets as well as our investable commercial & residential property markets?”

 

In this rather gloomy early-year period it is seems as though collective wisdom, an oxymoron if there ever was one, believes that bad times will be had

 meaning that confidence will not be high and that only the extremely brave will take risks (thereby creating jobs and money creation). 

 

If this statement is correct, then this may well be a time for us followers (I’m speaking for most of us here) to do just that, i.e. to follow the risk takers

 - after some waiting to allow for some reduction in volatility to improve our odds of being correct (but not improving our returns)…

 

But each of us lives different lives as we see things (everything, even colour and texture) differently from every other person.  This means that actions

 needs to be tailored to our individual needs.   

 

Financial planning is a profession (we are desperately trying to develop it into one anyhow) which could mean something like “sensible consideration of

 all one’s circumstances, one’s goals and one’s likely future life events in order to survive them, as desired, as well as in a healthy state financially.”

 

We advisors need your help to be able to assist you in achieving this.      

Why is the JSE rising when the economy is in tatters?

Dear Investor

I thought it an opportune time to comment on what I find, at first glance, a most confusing situation, namely the surge in the value of the All Share index on the JSE when times are so hard in South Africa.

How can investors perceive our listed companies as being under-valued when we look as though there is a long dark tunnel to traverse before any light will become visible, hopefully, in some years’ time….

If one drills down a little, you realise that just a few giant stocks, Naspers, Anglos, Sappi and the like make up most of the trade on the JSE. 

The rest of the top 40 earn most of their revenue in hard currencies.

The other 150 or so stocks make up a very small % of the value traded on the JSE.

Naspers has surged due to the stratospheric rise in the price of Tencent, a Chinese online gaming & IT company which owns the whatsapp of China and other dominant brands there.

One realizes then how shallow the foundations of this newly found confidence is. 

 

Beware, the economy as a whole is not looking attractive at all.  It is rather the effect of positive global sentiment towards Tencent and our few large, Rand hedged  multi-nationals that is pushing up their share prices.  It is not a deep-seated bull market.  

 

Cautious, balanced portfolios with good overseas elements are going to get us through this mess, so don’t become careless with new money.    

 

Tax proposals for South Africans working overseas

Dear Investor

National Treasury believes that the 183-day threshold for South Africans working outside the country in order to avoid needing to pay income tax should remain in the proposed amendments to the tax laws.

National Treasury is in the process of repealing tax exemption laws on income earned by South Africans working overseas through two bills, the 2017 Taxation Laws Amendment Bill and the 2017 Draft Tax Administration Laws Amendment Bill.

If planned new legislation goes through Parliament, South Africans who work overseas could be taxed locally for foreign earnings from March 1 2020, but it seems as though an exemption from income tax on the first R1m may make this new proposed law more palatable for those who earn less than or just over that threshold.

Kind regards

The team at Intasure Life

 

 

Update regarding SA's political uncertainty and the effect on the value of the Rand

 

Dear Investor

An update regarding our increasingly concerning local political scene:

After recalling Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas from their overseas investment promotion roadshow to the UK & US last Monday, the president looked to have been blocked in his endeavour to replace them by at least 3 of the 6 ANC NEC members when they met a day or two after their return to discuss possible cabinet shuffles.  It was thought that this might lead to a long overdue revolt from within the ANC itself against Zuma, Duarte et al, especially when Gwede Mantashe & Cyril Ramaphosa publicly denounced Zuma’s actions. 

Then two days ago Standard & Poor’s announced that they were downgrading South Africa’s US$ denominated sovereign debt (about 10% of our total govt debt) to below Investment Grade and this further heightened overseas investor uncertainty and the Rand started to move more quickly.  Unfortunately, both of the ANC NEC leaders who had spoken out against Zuma earlier in the week, retracted their statements yesterday as the ANC closed ranks and MP’s were subtly warned by Mantashe not to vote in support of the impending vote of no confidence in parliament called by the DA and the EFF.   

The Rand is now starting a gradual slide as (mainly overseas) buyers don’t quite manage to match (both local & overseas) sellers in their enthusiasm to trade the Rand.  This growing emotional momentum against the Rand (those who are keen to make a good profit from the generous local interest rate have less conviction than those who fear the Rand will lose ground) is gaining in strength and sentiment may worsen against the Rand thereby causing the Rand to topple.

Against this backdrop and looking at the uncertain political future in SA, those long term investors (who do not need to use a certain portion of their capital for at least 5 years) and who can therefore afford to convert their Rands into hard currency, are advised to consider doing so after giving careful thought to the risk of a Rand strengthening again in the next few months or years.      

Stay safe in this beautiful land

Best wishes  

The Intasure Life Team

Allan Gray's Rand denominated overseas feeder funds re-open to new business & Marriott's CEO, Simon Pearse, passes away

Dear Investor

While we do not advocate blanket investment advice across all our client portfolios, we feel that it is important to let our clients know when major changes occur within the fund management space. During the last 10 days there were two important announcements, one was a spot of good news while the other was not.

Firstly, Allan Gray has announced that its three Rand denominated overseas feeder funds, which give one Rand-hedged performance, are open to investors again after being closed for the last year and a half or so.

Should you wish to discuss this further, please give your advisor a call. 

Secondly, we were notified on Monday that Simon Pearse, 56 years old, the CEO of Marriott in Hillcrest, KZN and one of South Africa’s most highly regarded fund managers, passed away suddenly on his farm in Howick.  He was not ill and this was a total surprise to everyone.  No foul play was involved.  Marriott have issued a statement reassuring clients that, although the income-based investment philosophy, which Marriott are so well-known for, was largely developed by Simon, their investment team is well-versed in the implementation of this approach and they are confident that the client portfolios and unit trust funds which they manage will not be adversely affected by this loss.  Simon was a super-fit individual who was famous for taking on the world’s longest and toughest horse race, the Mongol Derby, twice.  He will be sorely missed.

How can one write about the investment world without for a minute mentioning the recent shenanigans of our president & his cronies?  After recalling Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas from their overseas investment promotion roadshow to the UK & US on Monday, the president seems to have been blocked in his endeavour to replace Gordhan by at least 3 of the 6 ANC NEC members when they met yesterday to discuss possible cabinet shuffles.  It is not known whether this will merely delay the removal of Minister Gordhan or if it will trigger a long overdue revolt from with the ANC itself against Zuma , Duarte et al.  The Rand and the local stock and capital markets are reflecting the heightened level of uncertainty which these developments, together with others in the US and the UK, are causing.  We advise investors to tread with caution when making investment decisions at this time.      

We hope you enjoy a safe and successful month ahead.

Regards 

Your team at Intasure Life  

Trump bump or long term recovery?

Dear Investor

What is happening to cause these equity markets to rise like this?

There are three possible drivers:  Better economic data in China & the US, many promises from Trump and also the US Federal Reserve being determined to raise interest rates.

Underlying growth momentum in the US is continuing to build now that the uncertainty around the presidency is over.  Investors are also more secure in their futures in the US because they feel that there is now more unity of purpose in all three levels of government and that means more policies will be passed into law and therefore progress will be made…?  

Concerns remain however, with no clear outline as to how the promised tax cuts, deregulation and infrastructure spending are to be executed and funded.

Finally, how does a pending increase in US interest rates help an economy to grow?  Well, it’s not about that actually, but rather that investors and analysts feel that if the Fed is confident enough to raise rates, then the members must be confident in the robust nature of the economic recovery…

Outside of the US some European countries are showing promising economic growth signs, while China starts to move forward again and this translates into a possible commodity revival, in turn resulting in stronger Emerging Market growth.

Was my concern, expressed in December,  about the markets possibly foundering in the coming months unfounded?

 

Best wishes  

Brian Groom

briang@intasurelife.co.za

 

 

 

 

A New Year

Dear Investor

Do you feel that was a long enough break from the rat race?! 

It seems to me as though the Christmas break gets shorter and shorter every year.  This is no doubt because I spend less time than before, relaxing while absorbing the beauty of the countryside and less time relaxing in the company of friends…. All because my subconscious, with the help of the ever-present smartphone, drag me back to the ingrained regimen of reading e-mails for crises, checking the markets & currencies for anomalies and so on.   

Our state of consciousness is key.  If we are able to immerse ourselves in what we are doing and we are doing what we love doing, e.g. surfing, fishing, reading, then we will come away recharged.  Living in the moment is essential for our mental health as it replaces all the clutter of our subconscious mind and replaces it, after a few good days of rest, with new ideas and renewed energy to tackle the new year.  We need rest and we need a cycle which ends so that we can believe in a new beginning and give ourselves a chance to reach our goals, all over again without worrying about yesterday.    

What will the new year bring?  That doesn’t actually matter to the investor unless he/she is about to make a decision to buy, change or sell.  These are the critical moments and utmost care should be taken to assess current circumstances before any active decision is made.  The rest of the time one should simply ensure you are invested in a well-balanced portfolio of excellently managed funds or of quality stocks and don’t fret about the daily news along the way.  A good analogy is the journey that a spacecraft undertakes to a space station and back to earth.  The critical moments are the blast-off & acceleration into the atmosphere, the move from one space station capsule to another and the re-entry into the atmosphere and the landing.  A back-up rocket is essential in case the first one misfires.  The bulk of the journey is spent floating in space while time elapses and other work of a non-life-threatening nature can be done such as research, record keeping, etc.

I hope you enter your desired market at a low point and that you exit at a higher point.  I also hope that you have a back-up plan such as a diversified portfolio so that when you are in need of some cash, sufficient of your funds/stocks is in the black.  

 

Sensible decision-making, good habits and discipline to you all

 

Best wishes 

 

Your team at Intasure Life 

Our final message for 2016

Dear Investor

Thank goodness for the seasons,

Our brains start a process of renewal when the weather begins to change, the leaves change colour and the flowers start to wilt or to blossom,

We need this to happen,

Our human environment is so busy these days that we are struggling to adapt to the speed of it all,

The youth immerse themselves in this mixture of sound, vivid colour and human activity all around them, while the greying amongst us (not a bad thing on a parent, a leader, fund manager or pilot),

start to long for the open lands - be they green or sandy brown, the animals, fynbos – God’s creations…We need space, time and some quiet to reflect…to get away from information (social media can be good, but it can pervade our minds constantly if we allow it too),

With reflection comes wisdom – fail forward, learn from our mistakes.   

We do not know how the events of 2016 will influence each of our lives, but we now need to concentrate on our loved ones and on ourselves, so that we will have the energy to be positive, to appreciate small wonders and to be able to make judgement calls again in a few weeks’ time.

Our country is a wonderful place and we have important roles to play in it, all of us.

May you be refreshed in the next few weeks (it may take longer to wind down and to gear up again this time round) and may you take on 2017 with energy and enthusiasm and may it be a great year for you!

Best wishes

Your Intasure Life team

Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme (latest and the last tax and exchange control amnesty)

Dear Investor

 

Monday saw the launch of the new amnesty or SVDP.

 

What is the SVDP?  It is an opportunity for those of us South African taxpayers who have still not declared some of our taxable income or gains to SARS and/or who have not regularized our overseas assets with the Reserve Bank, to come clean.

 

The period of this amnesty is from 1 October 2016 – 30 June 2017, which is three months longer than originally suggested.

 

The reason for this final amnesty being offered:  The impending automatic exchange of information between tax authorities, known as Common Reporting Standards or CRS, which is going to affect South African taxpayers from next year.

 

The scope of this SVDP:  The programme provides relief for all types of tax, except for VAT, estate duty and PAYE.  It also provides relief for unauthorized assets that were held on or before the 29th of February 2016.

 

The terms are rather complicated and advice can be sought by taxpayers themselves or through specialist tax advisors such as Sentinel Trust in Claremont, Cape Town.  Please let me know if you would like to have their contact details.

 

How does one apply:  Through SARS’s efiling portal.

 

This is the last time that the local tax and exchange control (financial surveillance) authorities will grant one any kind of relief, so if you have some undisclosed assets or undeclared taxable income or gains, come forward and clear the air on the most favourable terms yet offered.    

 

Regards

The Intasure Life Team