JOHANNESBURG - There aren’t many days when South Africans can take advantage of a strong rand and save in international currencies.
In fact, the rand’s recent gains to a nine-month high after Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was elected as the next leader of the ANC by a slim margin could not have come at a better time.
The SA Reserve Bank allows adults in South Africa to save or spend as much as R1 million in foreign currency each year, without the need to provide additional documents.
However, time is running out to take advantage of this allowance, as there are only a few days left in this year.
If you want to take advantage of the R10 million annual investment allowance, you will, however, need a tax certificate.
The rand is a notoriously volatile currency, recently shifting as much as 4%, and could swing again without much warning depending on international investors’ appetite for risk.
Its recent positive movement does indicate the market has welcomed Ramaphosa’s appointment, yet there is no guarantee this trend will continue, and it could fall out of favour again.
Because of this, it makes sense to invest in foreign currency at opportune moments, such as the one that presented itself on Monday night.
One way of doing this is through international saving, which is an avenue that gives investors the ability to save in international currencies without taking money out of the country.
International saving is a "pro-South Africa" choice because savings stay here, neatly accessible along with all other accounts via an online portal.
This mechanism allows South Africans to save in strong-performing currencies without negatively affecting the economy, while providing the ability to hedge against the fluctuations of a volatile rand.
Foreign currency investment accounts are tools that "democratise" savings because they give people the personal freedom to easily put some of their savings in foreign currency - via online banking.
This doesn’t mean that a customer looking for the freedom for borderless savings can’t access their money, as it can be moved back into the local currency.
Opening and maintaining the account is free; transactions are just R75, which covers the exchange control checks required by the central bank.
Being able to open a currency account online cuts down on paperwork, so investors don’t have to worry about the rand shifting during the time the account is being opened.
A foreign currency account can also be managed from an online banking profile, which opens this option up to many more South Africans because it eliminates the need to pay a broker.
There is a way to protect your assets, and still invest in the future of this country and the hope many South Africans may see in it.
Daniel Buntman is the head of international banking, retail and business banking at Absa.
The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.