Intellidex has prepared a submission to the Standing Committee on Finance regarding transformation of the financial services sector. In it, Intellidex argues that:

• Financial institutions are unique in that shareholding is not only a question of ownership and control, but also of the competitiveness and systemic soundness of institutions.
• Financial institutions can be transformed, and drive transformation in the wider economy, by innovating new products that promote financial inclusion and the financing of black businesses and individuals.

These particular features of the financial industry are best served by having a purpose-built charter. The Financial Sector Charter made a significant and positive impact following 2003 when it was implemented. The negotiating process itself was highly effective in promoting introspection in the industry and getting industry leaders to recognise the issues that banks, insurance companies and asset managers face in transforming themselves and the economy. However, with the expiry of the Charter at end 2008 following the failure to bring it in line with the broad-based black economic empowerment codes, the energy and focus it had promoted has dissipated. The recent gazetting of the amended Charter is an opportunity to re-energise the transformative efforts of the sector, as is the parliamentary hearing.

We recommend, however, that parliament also think about the opportunities there are for government to help support innovation and unlock other barriers to further transformation. In particular it can:

• Help unlock structural barriers to black financing by facilitating policy to assist black land holders to obtain title deeds to their properties.
• Promote innovation by using its balance sheet to absorb risks that the financial sector cannot bear alone. This should be done at a cost to financial institutions that compensates the tax payer for this risk.

We also have argued that:

• The creation of new banks has to overcome significant barriers to entry including the higher cost of funding. We believe that the creation of a new black-owned bank would face this same challenge. If the objective is to drive change it is better achieved by transforming the existing industry.
• The government currently has a set of significant financial institutions that broadly straddle the financial services sector. Where there are gaps it is preferable to develop these institutions to fill such gaps than to introduce a new state-owned bank.

Ultimately, we believe that the financial sector is a national asset that can contribute dramatically to the development of the country, helping to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality. To realise that potential it needs the right policy environment.

To download our full submission please click here.

By Heidi Dietzsch

Market research has evolved dramatically along with the evolution of communications technology. Today there are a wide variety of data collection methods available. That means one of the toughest decisions to make when developing a market research campaign is which data collection techniques to use. Should it be more traditional techniques such as face-to-face interviews and telephone interviews? Or would it be more beneficial to conduct online research or mobile phone research?

With effective market research, businesses can gain invaluable information about their competitors, economic shifts, demographics, the current market trends and the spending traits of customers. To make an informative decision on the best market research method, businesses should have a thorough understanding of the different methods available.

The history of market research as a discipline goes as far back as the 1920s. The first commercial research company, National Analysts, was created by the American Charles Coolidge Parlin, who coined the term “commercial research”.  This term later developed into “market research” as we call it today. Parlin is credited as the founder and a pioneer of market research. The face of market research has changed drastically since then. One of the earliest methods of quantitative data collection was paper and pencil interviewing (PAPI).  As one could imagine, PAPI posed a number of challenges. It is a time-consuming and error-prone method of research data collection. Data integrity could be compromised in a number of ways. For instance, the non-anonymity of this method could cause some respondents not to provide honest answers. Furthermore, interviewers might unintentionally influence respondents.

Computer assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) and computer assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) became popular in the 1970s and 1980s, respectively. These two interviewing methods had considerable advantages when compared to PAPI and streamlined the research process tremendously. With the onset of the internet, market research’s scope changed yet again, opening a wide range of new possibilities. The advantages of collecting data online are numerous. For instance, it costs less than traditional methods, surveys can be distributed easily and data output is more accurate.

Today, the majority of people have a mobile phone and the rise of the smart phone since 2007 has enriched the market research landscape even further. The era of mobile research has arrived faster than anyone could have anticipated. There are now a number of rich and colourful ways in which to engage with respondents via mobile technology. The convenience and ease of access can assist businesses in learning even more about customers and their behaviours. It is also estimated that more people use mobile phones than computers and therefore it just makes sense to reach respondents via mobile phones.

It is clear that the market research discipline is evolving faster than ever before.  The industry has experienced more change in the last ten years than the previous 70 years combined. Data collection methods have shifted dramatically to technology-based solutions in the past decade. Mobile-based surveys are set for dramatic growth as a result, and may in time become the primary channel companies use to find out information about their market places.