AIFMRM and donors continue to plug SA’s critical skills gap

Growing support from across the sector is a recognition of the need to continue developing highly skilled finance professionals, believes Taylor – and AIFMRM is a crucial part of that.

“It is very important to have an appreciation for the sponsors we have,” he said.

Several alumni from AIFMRM, now working with major investors in the institute, underlined the relationship between corporates and tertiary institutions in developing the financial sector.

Daniel Maxwell, now a financial engineer at Rand Merchant Bank, told students that being “in demand” was a motivator for studying at AIFMRM, but that ultimately the impact was far greater. “It’s a unique opportunity to study something stimulating, challenging and practical,” he said. “However, as you start working, you see that alumni from the MPhil and MCom are well entrenched in the South African financial market.

“Even though South Africa is a developing country, it has a very sophisticated financial market. AIFMRM will continue to produce graduates that drive this sophistication,” he said.

Boiketlo Mphahlele from Nedbank’s Markets team added that fostering a network of highly skilled individuals via AIFMRM was an important part of growing the financial community. “It’s not just about your qualification. AIFMRM wants to grow you holistically. You get direct contact with anyone coming to recruit – and use that opportunity to engage with people and gain insight,” she said.

Speakers also noted the attributes needed in order to help the finance sector thrive. In addition to the value of a network of skilled financial workers, Thabo Siko from Liberty emphasised the importance of developing more detail-oriented professionals. “Attention to detail is a very good skill I picked up from AIFMRM besides finance and maths,” he said. “This, besides the network I now have, is the most valuable resource, and makes things easier because people trust in the brand.”

Ndinae Masutha, a 2016 MPhil alumnus working at Old Mutual, spoke of the need for outstanding problem-solvers. An astrophysics graduate, he said he was drawn to the programme because “we solve problems – and I am here to solve problems”. In asset liability management, he uses his research skills to identify and troubleshoot potential problems.

Dirk van Heeswijk from FirstRand said the most important part of a study programme was its applicability. “What we study in the (AIFMRM) course is applicable – we use it every day,” he said.