Collective Internal Policy on Managing Potential Conflict of Interests and Insider Trading
The Scheme conducts its business honestly and ethically in all areas of its business. The Scheme strives to constantly improve the quality of services, its options and operations to create and maintain a reputation for honesty, fairness, respect, responsibility, integrity, trust and sound business judgment. No illegal or unethical conduct on the part of any employee or affiliates is in the Scheme’s best interest. The Scheme will not compromise its principles for short-term advantage or gain. The ethical performance of the Scheme is the sum of the ethics of the employees; thus, everyone is expected to adhere to a high standard of personal integrity.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST AND TRANSPARENT DISCLOSURE
Trustees and all employees of the Scheme should never permit their personal interests to conflict, or appear to conflict, with the interests of the Scheme, its members or affiliates. This may include but is not exclusive to:
- Real or perceived financial gain resulting from recommendations to Selfmed’s members at a cost to the members.
- An outcome in service delivery or a transaction executed that may differ from the real interest of the members.
- Any non-cash incentives that may be received by the Scheme from affecting any predetermined transaction and / or product.
- Effecting a transaction and / or product that may result in a benefit to another party other than the members.
Trustees and all employees should be particularly careful to avoid representing the Scheme in any transaction with others with whom there is any outside business affiliation or relationship. Trustees and all employees shall avoid using Scheme contacts to advance their private business or personal interests at the expense of the Scheme, its members or affiliates.
Due to the nature of Selfmed’s business, being a duly registered open enrolment medical scheme, the Scheme is governed by the rules and regulations published by the Council for Medical Schemes Act 131 of 1998.
According to the regulations there are only certain levels of broker commissions payable to brokers bringing new business to the Scheme and retaining that business.
No broker will receive any other payment or benefit except for that specified in the Act – Section 65 of the Medical Schemes Act, 1998, Act no. 131 of 1998. Regulation 28(2) published in terms of the Medical Schemes Act at present effectively reads as follows:
“subject to sub-regulation (3), the maximum amount payable to a broker by a medical scheme in respect of the introduction of a member to a medical scheme by that broker and the provision of ongoing service or advice to that member, shall not exceed –
- (a) R75.00, plus value added tax (VAT) per month, or such other monthly amount as the Minister shall determine annually in the Government Gazette, taking into consideration the rate of normal inflation; or
- (b) 3% plus value added tax (VAT) of the contributions payable in respect of that member, whichever is the lesser.”
The medical scheme’s contribution table is set for all membership and there is no differentiation between a member linked to a broker or a member without a broker in terms of the cost of cover.
Trustees and all employees are governed by the Code of Conduct and the Scheme’s Ethics Policy.
Because of the regulated environment listed above, there is a much reduced risk of conflict of interest – as no member funds are ever transferred to a third party, the nature of a medical scheme cover is short term cover. No contributions are repayable to a member if no healthcare events occurred during the membership.
Current levels of broker commission is transparently disclosed on the Council for Medical Schemes website.
With each quarterly Board of Trustees meeting, the trustees of the medical scheme declare any conflict of interest which is minuted and forms part of the meeting minutes.
All phone calls are recorded and any contact from a member is recorded on the membership file held within the MIP software system and could be reviewed on any future date.
No bribes, kickbacks or other similar remuneration or consideration shall be given to any person or organization in order to attract or influence business activity. Trustees and all employees shall avoid excessive gifts, gratuities, fees, bonuses or entertainment, in order to attract or influence business activity.
In order to further ensure the adherence to this requirement, the official Selfmed policy is as follows:
Any gifts or gratuities over the value of R1000 in the aggregate from any other person, including such person’s associate as defined in Financial Services Board Notice 58 of 2010 shall be declared to the Scheme. No gifts or gratuities or incentives over the value of R1000 may be given by any person in the Scheme, to any third party;
No gifts or gratuities may be accepted or given without written consent from the Principal Officer, and all such gifts and accompanying documentation must be registered in the non-cash incentive gifts register. In exercising his discretion, the Principal Officer must have regard to any commission regulations or other laws which may be breached by the receipt of such gift. A written statement from the giver explaining the reason for and purpose of the gift must accompany any request for authorisation. This provision applies, without limiting the generality of the aforegoing, also to invitations to any functions, including lunches, dinners, training interventions and prize-givings.
The gifts register shall be a book with fixed and numbered pages, similar to a minute book and all entries shall be made in chronological order in the book. No pages may be removed from the book. The gifts register shall be audited by the Scheme’s accountant on a monthly basis for the purpose of determining whether any gifts or incentives exceeded the aggregate value of R1000.00. The results of the audit shall be communicated to the Principal Officer. In determining whether any gift or incentive is to be allowed, the Principal Officer shall have regard to this report.
Trustees and all employees of the Scheme will often come into contact with, or have possession of, proprietary, confidential or scheme-sensitive information and must take appropriate steps to assure that such information is strictly safeguarded. This information – whether it is on behalf of the Scheme or any of its members or affiliates – could include strategic business plans, operating results, marketing strategies, member lists, personnel records, processes and methods. Proprietary, confidential and sensitive information about the Scheme, other companies, individuals and entities should be treated with sensitivity and discretion and only be disseminated on a need-to-know basis.
Misuse of material inside information in connection with trading in the Scheme’s securities can expose an individual to civil liability and penalties. Under current legislation, Trustees and any employee in possession of material information not available to the public are “insiders.” Spouses, friends, suppliers, brokers, and others outside the Scheme who may have acquired the information directly or indirectly from an employee are also “insiders.” The following guideline should be followed in dealing with inside information:
- Until any material information has been publicly released by the scheme, an employee must not disclose it to anyone except those within the Scheme whose positions require use of the information.
Trustees and all employees will seek to report all information accurately and honestly, and as otherwise required by applicable reporting requirements.
Trustees and all employees will refrain from gathering competitor intelligence by illegitimate means and refrain from acting on knowledge which has been gathered in such a manner. Trustees and all employees of the Scheme will seek to avoid exaggerating or disparaging comparisons of the services and competence of their competitors.
Violation of this Code can result in disciplinary action being taken against the person, including possible termination of services. The degree of discipline relates in part to whether there was a voluntary disclosure of any ethical violation and whether or not the violator co-operated in any subsequent investigation.
MANAGEMENT OF CONFLICTS
When any employee of the Scheme suspects a potential conflict of interest, that employee shall be obliged to discuss the matter with his/her immediate superior. The content of the discussion as well as any decision made must be minuted. The superior and employee will accept joint responsibility for the decision taken unless the decision is put forward for ratification to a more senior person in the Scheme. In assessing whether a conflict is material or of a lesser nature, regard must be given to the impact that such a conflict will have on the Scheme’s reputation, financial loss and internal erosion of ethical standards.
All decisions made, if any, must be reported on a weekly basis to the Principal Officer, by the most senior person involved in that decision.
Material conflicts shall be discussed with the Principal Officer before any decision is made. Only the Principal Officer or person authorised by him may make the final decision regarding a material conflict.
MANAGEMENT AND MITIGATION
The executive management of the Scheme will review all conflicts on a quarterly basis and make recommendations regarding steps to avoid a recurrence of those aspects. The Principal Officer will accept responsibility for the implementation of all steps necessary. Notice of the attention paid to conflict of interest will be minuted and the relevant extracts of the minutes will be made available to the Scheme’s compliance officer, the purpose of which is to enable the compliance officer to report on compliance with this policy.
Where a conflict is identified and a decision made, the nature of the decision will be communicated to the third party in writing as soon as possible. This applies regardless of whether the decision was made to cease doing business or continue with the business at hand despite the existence of the conflict. It is important for the preservation of the Scheme’s integrity that these disclosures are made at all times.
Where any conflict of interest exists with an employee, they are urged to disclose this to the scheme’s ethics officer who will in turn disclose the conflict and assist the employee in dealing with the situation. All employees have unrestricted access to the ethics officer.
STAFF TRAINING AND GENERAL AWARENESS
All Scheme employees will be trained on this policy. A copy of the policy will be provided to each employee at inception of that employee’s duties and updated versions must be circulated as and when they are updated. Moreover, all the Scheme’s members – existing and future, have access to this policy. The policy is posted on the Scheme’s website under the section “Internal Scheme Policies”.
I, THE UNDERSIGNED HEREBY ACKNOWLEDGE THAT I HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD THE CONFLICT OF INTEREST AND INSIDER TRADIER POLICY FOR SELFMED MEDICAL SCHEME.
I FURTHERMORE CONFIRM THAT I HAVE RECEIVED INHOUSE TRAINING IN RESPECT OF THE CONTENTS OF THIS POLICY.
FULL NAME SIGNATURE
DATE OF SIGNATURE