Issue: June 2012 / August 2012
Editorials

PROFILE

An industry professional

From her upbringing in a rural town to the boards of retirement funds, a dedicated lawyer and teacher is putting her impressive qualifications and experience to good effect.


Khangala . . . making her mark
She has charm. She has warmth. She has commitment to the retirement-fund industry and she also has a master of laws degree. In addition, in case it goes unnoticed, she’s a black woman. All of which makes her highly desirable; professionally speaking, of course.

Lavinia Khangala, a delegate to the CFA Institute annual conference held this year in Chicago, is cutting her teeth as an independent principal officer and trustee. Already holding these positions on a number of funds – including the Iscor Employees Umbrella Provident Fund (principal officer) as well as two Telkom funds and the Hollard staff fund (trustee) – she’s broken from corporate life to make this her fulltime business.

“What I most enjoy about serving on funds’ boards is the diversity of issues,” she says. “You must handle such a wide range, from investments to governance and constitutional rights, and not feel uncomfortable with financial statements. There’s constant challenge in promoting people’s welfare.”

Her involvement with the industry follows years of study, picking up a variety of qualifications, and worthwhile corporate experience: first at Old Mutual for two years as a legal advisor in personal investments and financial planning, also assisting brokers with advice to clients (“Old Mutual is a brilliant training ground”); then lecturing at Peninsula Technikon mainly on corporate law and financial accounting for auditing students (“Teaching is my passion”); then at Board of Executors as legal manager (“It exposed me to lisps and administering pension funds”); and then to Investec Asset Management for some three years as principal officer of 10 retirement funds as well as compliance officer and legal advisor for the whole IAM retirement-fund division.

“That job was the highlight of my career,” she recalls. “There were so many different facets that I was always on my toes.” But when the division was split up, and staff relocated, she left to join Alexander Forbes as the group’s compliance officer. Later moving to Cape Town, she became legal and compliance officer at Metropolitan Asset Management.

MetAM was her first client when, in 2005, she felt “I’d done enough in the corporate world and wanted to start my own business in legal compliance and consulting”. Appointed a conciliator at the Pension Funds Adjudicator, after its Cape Town office closed she consulted on legal and governance issues for various funds. This included the drafting of governance documentation, providing legal services to the GEPF and conducting induction training for GEPF trustees.

Often asked to oversee the procurement of service providers – and drafting documents for various funds, asset managers and consultants – she found time to become a director of the Principal Officers Association. She still speaks from its platforms, trains principal officers and trustees, and most recently has been lecturing on PF130, the Code for Responsible Investing, King III and other topical industry developments.

Born and raised in Limpopo, she graduated with a BProc from what was then the University of the North. Afterwards she gained her LLB from the University of the Western Cape.

Then came her LLM from UCT. Lectured by John Murphy (former Pension Funds Adjudicator) and Pierre de Vos (specialist in labour law), her thesis (supervised by dispute-resolution expert Sarah Christie) was on minimum wages for domestic workers. “It was a fortunate coincidence that government introduced it soon afterwards,” she notes, “although I do have mixed feelings. It’s good for workers in causing less exploitation, but less good for the economy in causing fewer jobs than might otherwise be created”.

As if these qualifications were insufficient, she studied further at the University of the Free State to become a certified financial planner and completed her attorneys’ articles at the Legal Aid Clinic. Admitted as an attorney, she’s also a conveyancer and notary public of the High Court.

“My first love is teaching,” Khangala happily admits. It needn’t compete with a husband and children for the lady is single. “There are advantages. I’m free to travel.”