Recently, I have witnessed my father grappling with illness. He has been in and out of hospital, trying hard to maintain his characteristic strength.
It has been a unique experience for me to see him dependent on us and on medical staff. To our family, Peter Campbell has always been that man to whom we look for decisive action and a refusal to give up.
Times of uncertainty tend to highlight our fears, and often prompt personal introspection. I have been reflecting on my own example set for my children that will help them when they face their own challenges as they grow.
The reality of the South African situation
Uncertainty has certainly been a theme in my past year’s communications. The passing of the presidential baton to Cyril Ramaphosa, the unearthing of so much dishonesty, the reports of how state-owned enterprises are buckling under the loss of revenue owing to corruption … all of these can leave us wondering where to from here: in the dark (often, literally!).
Another emerging theme, though, in the wake of this year’s SONA and Budget Speech, has been gratitude for the new leadership in contrast to the former Zuma regime – you can read my Budget Speech comment by clicking here.
In the words of Investec Asset Management’s Jeremy Gardiner: “One shudders to think how angry and depressed we would have been if we still had Jacob Zuma as President, with the prospect of another five years of the Zuma presidency after elections. We would still have Finance Minister Gigaba running what would be an officially (across all three rating agencies) junk economy and similarly junk currency, probably around R25 to the US dollar.”
Jeremy’s economic update at Chartered earlier this month was entitled: Signs of Spring? (you can read his full article by clicking here). He suggests that many South Africans have reached their ‘capitulation point’ – angry and disillusioned. Many may feel that they are powerless in the face of rising petrol and electricity prices and further evidence of the crippling of state-owned enterprises.
The power of perspective
Unsurprisingly, you can find both positive and negative responses to our global and local political and economic context. Biznews Editor, Alec Hogg, reported on 11 March that “Africa is back in fashion” among global investors, according to the most recent issue of The Economist. This publication dedicated four pages, including its lead article, to “The New Scramble for Africa”. Hogg himself views the low South African share prices as an opportunity to buy, not despair.
South Africa will lead the pack, says Hogg, “if president Cyril Ramaphosa achieves his objective of making the country the continental gateway”. Of course, fixing the country remains a priority, especially Eskom, and holding looters to account.
The power of choice
When it comes to that legacy of character I want to leave my children, I turn to the words of Viktor Frankl, Holocaust survivor: ”When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
In the context of South African – and global – uncertainty, I want to model an attitude that demonstrates the power of personal choice. We all undoubtedly will find ourselves in circumstances that we cannot control in the course of our lives (illness, the economic and political situation, the markets dipping, corrupt practices), but we still all certainly have the choice regarding how to respond.
In line with this philosophy, I will be casting my vote on 8 May, in the belief that we all have a role to play. As a Financial Planner, I want my clients to know that there is always more value in having a financial plan than none, especially when there is market uncertainty.
I am always grateful to clients who express gratitude for and confidence in Chartered and our approach to financial planning. We are committed to seeing each of our clients retiring successfully.