Meeting Mark Kitching, Head of Absa Linked Investments, Wealth and Investment Management, Barclays Africa

  • Q: How did you get involved in financial services - was it always something you wanted to do?
  • A: From my high school years at Pretoria Boys high school I was always interested in a career in financial services. After completing my Matric in the same school I enrolled for a B Compt degree in Accounting Science which I completed at an Honours level. As I advanced my studies, I also realized that I wanted to fulfill my leadership potential and decided to compliment my Degrees with a Postgraduate Diploma in Management. My working career started with Fisher Hoffman Stride, an accounting professional Services Firm, I completed my Articles of clerkship. I then joined the FirstRand Group in June 1994 with Momentum Life where I was an Internal Audit Manager and then the Risk and Compliance Manager working within the Momentum Group of companies including Momentum Life, Momentum Health and RMB Asset Management. I then joined Momentum Health within the Group permanently which then became Discovery Limited. I occupied several positions during my 14-year tenure, including Risk and Compliance Officer; Divisional Manager for Administration, and Deputy General Manager for Group Finance Operations. In 2007 I joined the Absa Group, after being offered the role of Chief Operating Officer for Absa Investment Management Services (AIMS), soon then becoming the Head of the Linked Investment Services Platform (LISP) Business. I have also acted as the Absa Investments Chief Operating Officer. Now within the Absa Wealth and Investment Management Business, my expanded role includes the Head of the Collective Investment Schemes Business together with the Linked Platform. The financial services industry has always and continues to be a big part of my life. I thoroughly enjoy and am challenged by the diverse and interesting aspects of the entire financial services industry.

  • Q: What three key things must be considered before making an investment decision?
  • A: In our environment, we always advise our clients to go through holistic financial planning. Following the holistic financial planning process would ensure that the client’s key considerations are incorporated in the solution provided. These will include but are not limited to; the client’s risk tolerance; financial affordability; as well as their goals and objectives.

  • Q: Investment choice - SA investors are spoilt for choice - does this make an investment decision too complex or is choice a necessity?
  • A: In my view, clients are currently spoilt for choice when making investment decisions and should always seek the advice of a qualified financial adviser and planner. Making an investment decision can be complex and a specialist is always there to fill in the gaps and help the investor through that decision.

  • Q: Transparency, disclosure and fees - has the local industry done enough to ensure investors understand investments, risks and costs or can we do more?
  • A: At Absa Wealth and Investment Management we are constantly striving to improve investor transparency, especially with disclosures and fees. In addition to this, we are always making an effort to make our product offering simpler and easier to understand. We are constantly looking at ways of treating our customers fairly and improving our customer satisfaction measures. We also strongly believe that financial literacy for consumers is critical in order to achieve financial goals and retirement savings. Having said that, as an industry we can do more and support the regulatory environment in pushing for the same goal.

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