War for talent as skilled professionals flee South Africa

Momentum Metropolitan has joined other companies in the financial services sector to warn of a lack of critical skills in the industry, creating a “war for talent” in the sector. 

Momentum issued this warning in its annual report. The insurer said it is currently in a war for talent, in particular for actuaries, IT specialists, and other technical professionals. 

The company also wanted that it is increasingly difficult to employ more people with the requisite skills, putting it at risk of failing to achieve transformation targets. 

“SA is facing an acute critical skills crisis, especially African, coloured and Indian skills, due to increased local and international competition and emigration,” the company said.

“We face the risk of skills shortages, particularly in critical skills such as actuarial, IT and technical talent. This has amplified in the evolving working environment.” 

Talent retention, burnout and fatigue are all concerns, especially in specialist areas, and talent attraction remains challenging,” Momentum said. 

The insurer’s warning follows various other players in the financial services industry raising concerns over the lack of skills in the sector and emigration as a leading cause of the problem. 

South Africa’s National Payments System (NPS) said it faces a critical skills shortage worsened by the emigration of skilled personnel. 

This was revealed by Payment Association of South Africa (PASA) CEO Ghita Erling. 

The South African Reserve Bank mandates PASA to organise, manage, and regulate the participation of its members in the NPS. 

Erling said the industry faces significant headwinds, including a skills shortage exacerbated by increased emigration of skilled professionals. 

A spokesperson for PASA said the problem was that the demand for knowledge, experience, and an in-depth understanding of the payments industry far outweighed the supply.

Worryingly, new professionals are not being produced as there is a lack of training programmes to satisfy the growing demand for payment professionals. 

Irba CEO Imre Nagy

Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (Irba) CEO Imre Nagy warned of an auditors shortage in South Africa. 

The country’s auditing profession faces a skills shortage due to low mathematics literacy, emigration, and a negative perception of the industry.

The industry has lost its lustre because of high entry requirements to study accounting, high tuition fees, low pay, high work stress, and negative publicity about the auditing profession.

The skills shortage is exacerbated by low maths literacy in South Africa, which significantly reduces the number of students able to study accounting. 

In addition, several push-and-pull factors, such as political and socioeconomic instability, drive the emigration of highly skilled professionals.

Irba recently accredited the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants as an additional professional accounting body to address the skills shortage. 

This will provide another route to the audit specialisation programme for aspiring auditors.

Irba is also undertaking a situational analysis to restore confidence in the role of auditors and the regulator. 

This includes closer collaboration with auditors without compromising the regulator’s independence.

PASA said it is also engaging with multiple industry players and initiated a needs analysis study to understand what is needed to build capacity in the payments system.