Members of the Financial Intermediaries Association of Southern Africa (FIA) recently elected Jay Ramsunder as President of the FIA. Jay, who will head the association for a two-year term from 2015 to 2017, takes over the reins from the immediate past-President of the FIA, Arnold van der Linde. Jay vacates the Vice-president position to Peter Olyott.
The association represents South Africa's risk and financial advisers in all disciplines in the financial services industry including employee benefits, financial planning (risk and investment), healthcare and short term insurance.
"Our primary function is to represent our members' interests to all stakeholders in the financial services industry, most notably the regulators, to ensure the sustainability of independent financial advice to the ultimate benefit of consumers," says Jay.
"There have been numerous FIA-driven initiatives to bring about professionalism in the industry over the past few years and we go to great lengths to educate consumers about the value in receiving fit and proper advice from our members," he says.
Consumers benefit from advice whether they are purchasing insurance for their car or home, saving up to put one of their children through university, investing to ensure a quality lifestyle in retirement or joining a medical aid.
Aside from limited representation by full-time FIA employees the FIA's executive structures and committees are filled by volunteer members who give of their time over and above the busy practices they run. Jay is a Certified Financial Planner CFP ® professional who owns a successful practice in KwaZulu-Natal, Arnold is CEO of short term insurance broker, Integrisure, and Peter heads up Indwe Risk Services.
"One of the strengths of the FIA is that our views are informed by practising intermediaries who write business across the spectrum of financial advice disciplines, from the small one-man brokerage all the way through to the largest financial services providers," says Jay.
Jay has a long history in the financial services industry having started as an independent insurance broker in 1979. His commitment to the industry reflects in an impressive track record at various intermediary interest groups since.
Jay joined the Independent Broker Council (IBC) in 1985 and served in various capacities including as branch secretary, treasurer and chairperson before being appointed as a director in 2000. During the second of two terms as the IBC President, Jay was instrumental in negotiating the merger of SAFSIA and LUASA to form the FIA in 2008. He has served as a director of the FIA since.
"A great deal has changed in the financial services landscape over 30-plus years that I have been involved in it," says Jay.
"Associations such as the FIA have evolved from predominantly social support networks to de facto trade associations that fight tooth and nail for the future of the intermediated distribution model - a model that we believe is critical to meet our and the regulator's desire to deliver pro-consumer outcomes in the future financial services environment."
"The industry has matured over the 11 years since the introduction of FAIS and I can confidently say that our members, through the adoption of an FIA Code of Conduct, have embraced the concept of professionalism."
FIA CEO, Justus van Pletzen, has worked closely with Jay for many years. "Jay has served on the Long Term Advisory Committee of the FSB, is committed to education and transformation in the industry though his involvement at INSETA (as director and member of its Audit Committee) and is a co-opted member of the KZN Regional Committee of the FPI - and is definitely up to the challenges that our dynamic environment presents," he says.
Jay is married with three sons and seven grandchildren. He is also a trustee and treasurer of the Shree Gopal Lal Temple and a management member of the Verulam Child & Family Welfare Society.
"The FIA is product to have the likes of Jay and Peter on board and we wish them well over the next two years... A special word of thanks also to Arnold, who remains a director of the FIA, for his tireless efforts over the past years," concludes Justus.