Weekly Thoughts

Weekly Thoughts 10 September

I write to you today about this topic below because there are three or four clients dealing with this in one way or another right now: Power of Attorney and Curatorship of Estate.

A number of people might have Power of Attorney over someone. In particular, we might do this to help an aging family member deal with the admin of their lives. If I have your POA for example, and I go into the bank to do an administrative transaction for you, the banker has the right to phone you and say, “Mr or Mrs So and So, did you give POA to Kevin Murray? Are you happy that the POA documents in his possession are from you and are valid and may we continue under his instruction on your behalf?” You need to have the full mental capacity to understand this and to respond saying “Yes”. Or indeed No, if it was incorrect or not meeting with your approval.

However, from the day that you no longer have the full mental capacity to back up your POA on the phone because of some or other mental illness, the POA becomes invalid. A family member, or someone, needs to now go to court to apply for Curatorship of Estate, which gives you the ability to completely manage that person’s affairs. You have now been appointed by the court to do just that. It can be an expensive and slow process to get through, but it’s what is required.

Weekly Thoughts 27 August 2021

A few random, disjointed thoughts this week….

I haven’t written since the chaos week of looting. Life is back to normal in my town… which means you can stop your car wherever you want to for as long as you want to, as long as you put your hazard lights on… and after a traffic light turns red, two more cars are still allowed to go through!

I’m certainly finding this new POPI world very frustrating. So many things that I regularly receive now require me to go and find ID numbers or codes before opening. Very irritating… but part of our lives going forward so better I accept it.

A week ago I listened to an online presentation by Ninety One Asset Managers. A director gave his summary thoughts as follows:

• Damage from the riots & looting could have been worse
• SA is economically better than he expected
• The Vaccination rollout is actually happening fairly efficiently
• The President’s position has strengthened
• The World and SA are in a better state than this time last year

He was more positive than I expected.

Weekly Thoughts 16 July 2021

Well…. what a week it’s been. I have gotten to know people in my neighbourhood that I would never have met. I know who has shotguns, who have revolvers, knobkieries, axe handles, hockey sticks, whips, pangas, paintball guns…. And any form of reason weapon.

With living down here in Pietermaritzburg, I have been a part of our larger neighbourhood coming together and creating our own vigilante roadblocks and checkpoint groups to take charge of the movement of cars and people through the area. We’ve had no choice. We have stood together, all South African groups represented, men and woman, young and old, covering two nights shifts for four nights now. And we have two to go. I’ve done the midnight to 6 am plus daytime action on Tuesday, trying to look serious with my paintball gun.

We have protected our local Spar through tree blocks on either side of the access areas, severely restricting traffic. One guy brought down his chain saw and we simply dropped trees across the road on either side, without asking anyone. We offloaded stolen goods from cars who had completed their town shopping, we turned cars around, helped pile up stolen goods at the police station, protected our local petrol station…. And made fires in the streets to help keep us going through the night.

A very old friend of mine lives in my neighbourhood. He has about 10 academic letters behind his name. I think I’m supposed to call him Doctor – but I cannot remember of what. He and I and others have already spent many hours during the dead of night, debating at large the fabric of societies in general. The merits and demerits of democracy and autocracy and the importance of an independent judiciary. Two conclusions we came to, was that Pick n Pay can retain its name but Takealot should rather change its name to Buyalot!!

It has been a very bad space for our country, on so many levels. I don’t need to tell you that. It will probably become a ‘recorded space’ in our history. Let’s just hope that some good things can come from it.

Weekly Thoughts 18 June 2021

We’re deep into winter now, with the shortest day and the longest night of the year coming around on Monday. Which makes Tuesday something to look forward to.

I’ve finally (not sure that it’s appropriate to say ‘finally’… it just puts something into perspective…) lost two people to Covid in recent weeks whom I personally knew. No longer just knowing someone who’d lost someone. The world is not yet easier.

Two recent South African developments are creating optimism with some asset managers: The fact that the private sector may now install electrical generation capacity and the sale of 51% of SAA. I agree. These are good things.

I was also happy to finally read of an asset manager calling Bitcoin ‘make-believe’ money. No longer just me!

Weekly Thoughts 19 February 2021

I listened to three different fund manager zoom meetings this week.

This included a couple of guys from NinetyOne, (Ex Investec) then a couple of people from a group called Counterpoint, and then the clever people talking from the UK who help run the direct UK property holding investment through FIM Capital, who works out of the Isle of Man.

This last one was very good. They showed us drone footage of a couple of these retail and industrial properties in the portfolio. Its good to hear, and then see, that the people who manage and choose the investments, in this case, choose a physical property to buy into the portfolio, seem to be on top of things and know what they’re doing. They are very happy with occupancy, operations and income streams of the 20-odd buildings in the portfolio. I want to go and visit some of these properties sometimes, to see and walk through what I’m offering my clients to invest in. Maybe next year.

One interesting statement from one of the NinetyOne guys was that, during some of the recovery of the past 10 months, the big money was in the waiting. Waiting is often what investment returns and success is all about. He made a further comment that someone in their twenties has a 60 year investment time horizon. It’s quite a thought actually.

Weekly Thoughts 29 January 2021

I haven’t written for a very long time… Christmas has passed, New Year is now old, and I’d just had a pacemaker fitted. That seems to be all fine. I feel what is probably called ‘normal’. My Dread Disease claim with the one company is approved and pending. I still wait on the second company. One must remember that for an insurance claim to be awarded, something was a bit wrong with us. It’s not necessarily a celebration.

I learnt this month from some people I often bring in to be executors on estates for me, that in these loaded times of Covid-19 deaths, Home Affairs is struggling just to get out death certificates and therefore it’s taking up to six months just for the Master’s Office to issue Letters of Executorship. This means that nothing gets started in term of simply beginning to wind up an estate. Which in turn means that cash does not come out from estates very quickly, even in the case of a life insurance policy with a nominated beneficiary – because this requires the death certificate.

Here is something that you never heard from me… If there is someone who is financially dependent on you, they, or someone, needs to know your banking login details and passwords. For someone to sweep money out of your bank account ASAP if you go down before the Bank freezes the account. The executor will come and moan later to have it back, but by then other things might have come through.

Let’s hope things will ease.

Then I listened to six hours of fund manager zoom presentations this week. A variety of managers and content over two days. Information overload.

Weekly Thought 11 December 2020

Today’s story is just about me. I write to you this morning from Johannesburg, before flying back to Pietermaritzburg later today.

I think it can be good to let my clients know that I might go through the same events in life that many of you might do too. On Wednesday this week, I had a Pacemaker fitted in a hospital up here. For various reasons, it was preferential to come here to do it than in Durban.

My story is that for a few years now, my heart rate has been very low. At rest, I have usually been around 32 to 35. A high level of fitness is partly the cause of such a low rate in many a middle-aged man. But my low rate has been compounded by my body’s own, natural, primary pacemaker not always waking up, resulting in a longer pause before our body’s natural, secondary pacemaker wakes up and kicks the heart into action. This has resulted in my heart rate sometimes dropping into the high twenties, especially at night, with regular 4 to 6 or 7 seconds between some beats.

The various cardiologists that have helped me, have explained the electrical conduction problems I have. Can’t blame this on Eskom or anyone – just my own chambers not sending their allotted voltage to wherever they should be sending it to. So now I have my own battery pack to keep me at a minimum resting rate, while still being able to exercise as much as I wish to.

It was a simple, 40 minute under local anaesthetic procedure. With the Cardiologist tugging and pulling and prodding at me, as he put the stuff into me. And then for the first night in many years, I slept without feeling this irregular marimba band going on inside me!

I will now experience what many of you have, or one day might have to when I deal with claiming on my dread disease insurance. If I understand the technical jargon, I think I have a valid claim: “Half broken heart needs permanent help”.

Weekly Thoughts 28 November 2020

Yesterday, and these past days, was Black Friday time again. The winners are the banks and the stores. They’ll win again in December with the Christmas over-spending.

Another coffee shop closed a short while ago: Pietermaritzburg airport no longer has one. Tables and chairs and everything cleared away. Sad. Not just because I can no longer get coffee before flying, but because a bunch of people have yet again lost their jobs.

Weekly Thoughts 16 October 2020

For those of you who keep a watch for my Weekly Thoughts, you will know that there has not been an issue out on the shelves for a very long time. I have really battled with what to write over the past few weeks.

I cannot bring myself to use much humour – there are still too many folks reading this who are battling with the times we have found ourselves in. Then, I don’t want to just re-write the economic news I get or listen to via the many on-line presentations I attend. For those that really want this, you get it by default through what you read, your work-related issues, articles you subscribe to… and so on. These things might be around how the markets are responding to US elections, vaccine trials and the reversal of businesses opening due to higher Covid-19 figures again.

Should I talk about the handful of companies dominating the SA stock market and skewing the figures we see about the good companies, or maybe I talk about the year that has been: The year of the incorrect memories, the lessons we have not yet finished learning about what we actually only need in life.

I remain however, acutely aware that this family is still very fortunate.

Weekly Thoughts 3 July 2020

Over the past weeks, there have been many conversations about how to restart the economy again. It has been on my mind as to how I, and many of us, can help where we can. Since restaurants have been able to do deliveries or collections, we have supported one or other of our preferred eating spots every week, even though we would never usually go out or buy take-a-ways every week. I have also made a point of passing good coffee spots and buying a take-a-way cappuccino. Not just to get my regular coffee fix again in the morning, but to support, because I can.

I went for a haircut this week. Again, not just because I needed one, but also to get back to support my local little hairdresser as soon as I could. (I did manage to have one illegal haircut during lockdown!) I have thought that maybe another way to help re-start small business is to go away for a night or a weekend to stay in a small BnB or something. When permitted that is. Just to get out and help people get going again.

A bit of extra effort from many of us could make a big difference to many small businesses. We’re far from seeing the end of businesses and shops closing. This week alone in my town, it has been two coffee shops, one pet shop and one motorbike shop. And that’s only what I know of.

As I ponder this bizarre and sad time we’re in right now, I wonder if one day there’ll be a documentary on the History Channel, about when Man used to gather in large groups, shaking hands, kissing and hugging, dipping hands into communal bowls of biltong and chips and blowing birthday candles out. Quite a thought for right now.