Butsi Tladi, MD of Alexander Forbes Health, says the Conduct of Financial Institutions (COFI) Bill will promote financial inclusion and transformation.
The COFI Bill is the next phase of legislative reforms that set out to strengthen the regulation of how the financial services industry treats its customers. Published by the Minister of Finance in December for public comment until 1 April, the Bill advocates removing core regulatory functions from the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) and placing them with the Financial Services Conduct Authority (FSCA). The current dual regulatory framework has made it tricky to offer consumers maximum protection, and having a single regulatory body overseeing the medical scheme industry may do just that.
“Through related legislations such as the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services (FAIS) Act, the FSCA has proven that it is far more capable of managing possible conflicts of interest in the provision of independent advice to consumers,” says Butsi Tladi, Managing Director of Alexander Forbes Health. She asserts that the public and private healthcare sectors need to work together for South Africa to achieve universal healthcare.
“A silo approach to these complex issues will only serve to detract the process and delay progress. The dual regulation of participants in the medical scheme industry is not ideal, and in some areas creates conflict,” she says.
She calls the COFI Bill approach “refreshing” in that it sets out the specific intention of the law, rather than setting rules for compliance. “Compliance with the spirit of the law, rather than narrow technical, compliance will be important,” she asserts. “If we appreciate the efforts of the Competition Commission’s Inquiry into Private Healthcare, then we must welcome efforts that support and facilitate better competition and innovation. Furthermore, COFI aims to promote financial inclusion and transformation, particularly that of emerging black-owned financial institutions.”