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While Johannesburg was recognised for many years as the financial capital of South Africa, it recently lost the title to Cape Town in 2018. This was the year that Cape Town became a new entrant on the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI 24) for September, topping the local list and ranking 38th worldwide.

Today, the City of Cape Town is widely regarded as the primary financial services hub of the South African economy. This is reflected in the growth experienced in the sector over the past decade. 

From 2010 to 2019, the City of Cape Town’s financial services sector was the 10th fastest-growing sector in the economy, with an average annual growth rate of 5.58%. During this period, it was the largest sector in terms of output, with a GVA of more than R99,94 billion per annum.

More recently, Cape Town’s financial services sector saw a strong recovery in Q3 of 2020 compared to Q2, following the challenges presented by the nationwide lockdown measures.

According to the Economic Performance Indicators (EPIC) Q4 report for Cape Town, the finance sector continues to be one of the top contributors to the total GDP of the Western Cape, together with the trade and manufacturing sectors.

While finance was one of the few sectors in Cape Town to record a contraction in the fourth quarter of 2020, it was also one of the most prominent contributors to employment growth during this time. Job growth was up by 5 972 in the finance sector in Q4.

The Financial Services Landscape in Cape Town

There are 11 locally controlled banks and two mutual banks operating in the City of Cape Town – including South Africa’s top five banks, First National Bank, ABSA, Standard Bank, Nedbank and Capitec. These banks all have offices in the CBD, with extensive fintech services located throughout the metropolitan. 

Top insurance companies including Old Mutual Africa, Santam and Metropolitan operate in the City of Cape Town, alongside renowned investment and financial advisors such as Allan Gray, Investec and Price Waterhouse Coopers. 

A total of 35 insurance firms are headquartered in the CoCT, including three of the top six-largest insurance firms in South Africa. The greater Western Cape is also home to the headquarters of: 

  • 35 life insurance companies,
  • 29 pension fund services firms,
  • 35 credit facility providers,
  • 12 securities trading firms, and
  • 95 asset management, private equity and financial real estate companies. 

Fintech on the Rise in Africa’s Top Start-Up Hub 

Fintech (financial technology) is the use of new technology to improve the digitisation and automation of financial services. Some of the top fintech firms operating in Cape Town today include JUMO, Yoco, TymeBank, Bank Zero and Nomanini.  

The rapid growth in fintech businesses presents a significant challenge to the banking sector in South Africa right now, as traditional banks are becoming less relevant compared to innovative and efficient fintech firms. However, there are plenty of opportunities for traditional banks to partner with fintech firms, helping them to provide cutting-edge solutions to their clients.

With Cape Town’s reputation as the start-up capital of Africa, the city can provide the ideal environment for start-up fintech incubators, to help drive collaborations between traditional banks and fintech firms.

Did You Know? In 2020, $88 million (approximately R1.2 billion) in disclosed investments were injected into tech-focused start-ups in the CoCT – the largest investments in South Africa during this time.

Job Creation and Investment Opportunities in the Finance Sector

Cape Town’s various financial services subsectors present some valuable opportunities for employment and investment. Here are some of the ways the CoCT can leverage these opportunities: 

Banking: 

The city’s thriving start-up culture will create many opportunities to bridge the gap between traditional banking methods and innovative fintech. Cape Town’s banking sector is also seeing a growing number of microfinance firms, which are helping to make financial inclusion a reality. Meanwhile, an increased focus on growing the labour pool in big data, skills analytics and AI will make Cape Town a more competitive destination for modern banking and fintech enterprises. 

Long-term insurance: 

The insurance industry is rapidly moving towards technology transformation and customer-centricity. Impact investing is another top insurance industry trend to watch. Impact investments are those that make a social impact and help to uplift communities and create jobs, while also providing great returns for the investor. By promoting and incentivising income investing, the City of Cape Town will become a more attractive location to those in the insurance sector.

Pension funding: 

The pension funding subsector is seeing a strong shift towards responsible investing, environmental sustainability and positive social impact. Asset managers are becoming increasingly concerned about long-term issues and risks like climate change. In order to attract more asset managers and strengthen their financial services sectors, the CoCT needs to focus on sustainability and clean energy sources such as solar power. 

Securities dealing activities:

The state of the economy affects investor confidence, which affects the security dealings sector. By demonstrating that it provides a stable and sustainable environment for business operations, the CoCT can attract more of these firms.

More than a Leisure Destination

With its status as a leading start-up ecosystem and tech employment hub, Cape Town is considered to be one of the fastest-growing regions for foreign direct investment.

The growth of Cape Town’s financial services sector and its contribution to the GDP shows that Cape Town is much more than just a holiday destination – it is also a place to do serious business. It’s not surprising that the number of fintech, insurance, private investment and asset management companies in the city continues to grow.

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