Dear MRM Clients,

2023 is gone, in a blur, the festive season break a drop in the ocean and here we find ourselves just over
10 months to Christmas. I’m sure we all felt a bit like Dricus Du Plessis in his final round when last year
drew to a close, we have enjoyed a good water break and are rearing (not sure if that word is a bit
overenthusiastic) to go.

So getting right into the meat and potatoes, the most common question coming to myself and my
partners is:
What do we have to look forward to in 2024 and how do we plan?

Before I give some guidelines, know this. All businesses which have traded through the last decade have
done so in unquestionably the most challenging period in our country’s history. It is with a certain amount of pride that I can say that the bulk of you have come through this relatively intact, and that in itself speaks volumes to your skills. Based upon this, you know the basics; the best I can do is give you some given parameters to consider when making your decisions for the year.

  1. The Interest rate is unlikely to drop significantly and more likely to edge up over the year.
  2. Make your financing decisions wisely on this basis, and if you have long term borrowings consider
    reducing your exposure where possible to prevent the erosion of your bottom line.
  3. The parenting adage of “Small children, small problems, Big children, big problems” also applies to
    companies. Equity investments are going to continue to come under massive pressure, both locally
    and internationally. Consider your exposure to these markets, there is generally a limited upside
    but a potentially large downside.
  4. High interest rates will continue to have a depressive effect on property prices. Landlords are
    having their profits eroded by interest rates and high municipal charges and due to a glut of space
    surplus, are finding their rental rates under pressure from cheeky renters. As many businesses will
    continue to close their doors this year, blue chip tenants will become in increasing demand.
  5. The big one, 2024 General Elections, has the potential to create chaos this year. As this is probably
    the most contentious one since 1994 I imagine it may create turmoil in our financial markets,
    especially with our currency. There is an incredible amount of moving parts and scenarios here and
    depending on how it plays out may cause temporary weakening or strengthening of the rand.
    Whilst that is an incredibly useless prediction of mine, what it does say is that no one knows. In
    business, if you can’t predict then you need to protect. That means, don’t gamble on currency,
    cover forward if you are trading in Forex, it’s not worth the ride on the roller coaster.
  6. International unrest seen in the various wars and atrocities happening in various countries in the
    world will continue to play havoc with raw material and imported goods supplies. Expect price
    fluctuations on virtually all things. If you are manufacturing you will need to keep an eye on your
    pricing virtually daily.
  7. If you want to keep your capital intact, continue to consider cash and commodities. Cash yields are
    quite good under high interest rates and commodities become a global haven when currencies
    become threatened.
  8. No analysis would be complete without touching upon municipal services, or the lack thereof.
    Despite lip service assurances given by our Government, largely election rhetoric, any improvement
    will be short lived I believe and reliable supply is still some years away. I have seen the effect on
    certain businesses and it’s quite horrific in some cases. If load shedding is materially affecting your
    bottom line you have to take the solar plunge I imagine. Remember there is a temporary tax
    allowance on solar installations for your businesses which is quite attractive. If you want more
    details on these allowances, give us a shout.
  9. Rising crime across the country is a real threat to our capital assets. As much as it’s a grudge
    purchase, revisit your coverage with your broker. Over the past 2 or 3 years I have seen companies
    have to absorb material losses due to insufficient or non-existent coverage. This coupled with the
    fact that Insurers are being miserable with regards to paying anything out increases the importance
    of having a good broker on your side.
  10. I can’t leave just 9 points, it goes against my love of even numbers. Have some fun this year, I have
    seen people fighting multiple medical issues, mostly from stress which is totally understandable.
    Make sure you schedule some downtime, if you don’t step away from the coalface every so often;
    you run a very real risk of tunnel vision. Aside from that, why in the world are we all working so
    hard if we can’t enjoy it every so often?

I am sure I didn’t come with anything you didn’t already know, but sometimes it is useful to keep your
businesses trading within broad parameters. In current times those parameters should be continually
mitigating loss as opposed to shooting out the lights.

Ok, moving on, let’s talk about SARS. They continue to be annoying, and have stepped up their annoyance level quite spectacularly. Aside from the fact that they seem to operate outside of their legal parameters with impunity (It’s a full time job making sure they are colouring inside the lines) they appear to have a declining skill set which is causing more facile queries with the end result being that Devasha is tempted to start morning drinking. For the last 2 years they have been pushing everyone to essentially overpay provisional taxes despite most companies being in a profit decline cycle. The result is now that returns are being filed they have to shell out bundles of refunds which have emptied their coffers. They are looking for any way to get their hands on cash including handing out penalties like peanuts and querying refunds with the main aim of delaying payment.

In order to keep up with their enthusiasm to pilfer funds from your hard earned lucre we are boosting the
efficient department headed by Devasha and ably assisted by Rylie and Vishalya by at least 1 and probably 2 more staff members. As I think I mentioned in past correspondence MRM has been accredited
as a Taxation Learning Center by SAIT (South African Institute of Taxation) and Rylie and Vishalya have
entered into a 3 year articles in order for them to become accredited by the Institute. New department
members will also be accepted under articles in order that we continue to ensure that you are enjoying
the services of a high level skill set.

As always we are looking for applicants, if anyone knows of anyone looking for a tax career, please get
them to contact Tanya.

MRM Labour Counsel was incorporated last year to formalise what we called our labour division. This
gave recognition to Taryn and Ameel for their many years of dedicated service as an added bonus. They
have been guided by the stern hand of Jimmy and as such have made strategic alliances with HR and
Labour Consulting companies. MRMLC can now offer full labour services including BBEEE structuring,
auditing and advice. Their core skill remains that of payroll processing and ancillary services. They deal
with everything from 2 or 3 employees right through to large employee bases of hundreds. They are also
geared for both monthly salaries and weekly wages. If this is something you would like to look at feel free
to give Taryn, Ameel or Jimmy a shout and they can give you pricing.

Due to an influx of work and a desire to protect Diedre from thoughts of self harm, they are also hiring 1
and probably 2 to bolster the ranks. Once again, if anyone knows of anybody looking for a career in
payroll, please give either Taryn or Tanya a shout.

Over the past few years I have waxed lyrical about the power of family businesses and how satisfying it is
to be representing second and third generation businesses. On this point my father, Koos Jooste, who
some of you are familiar with, has finally decided, much to my mother’s disgust, to retire at the young age
of 84. I am honoured that MRM will acquire the accounting business from his firm, Ninow and Associates,
from 01 March 2024.

As MRM moves into its 42nd year of business, we can now tick the second generation box on the firm’s
list of accolades, and take great pride in building upon the relationships which Dad has formed with his
clients over his 60+ year career. An additional bonus for the firm, and of course my mother, is that Dad
has agreed to consult to MRM, bringing his wealth of experience under our umbrella. To all of you who
have come across to us, welcome to your new business family. We will be addressing you by separate
correspondence and look forward to meeting you all in the near future.

Aside from this, Compliance continues to operate under my beady eye and ruthlessly controlled by our
favourite boeremeisie and director, Tammy. She refers to her trainees as her ‘chickens’ and her coop now
houses 11, I think, an MRM record. As she comes from the land of the mielie she can never have too
many chickens. If anyone knows of any school leavers or graduates looking to enter into articles please
get them to either contact her or Tanya in this regard.

This growth has been spearheaded by an influx of client referrals and an additional welcome to MRM new
clients who have joined us over the past 12 months.

Ok, I feel quite exhausted after all that news. I invite everyone to visit our website on
to keep tabs on who is who in the zoo. It’s a full time job for Tanya keeping this updated with all the
changes. I am terrible as I keep seeing strange people wandering around the office and am unsure if they
are new employees or if it’s ‘bring your friend to work day’ and I missed the memo. This has led to me
grunting at people more often than I am usually inclined to and getting beaten by Tanya when I ask, “Is
that a new one?”

Growth is never my first choice but we have identified that as the world changes so are the requirements
being made of the practice. In order for us to continue to dispense high level advice and not compromise
our service to you it is imperative that we gear ourselves accordingly and as our staff compliment hits 30
we have never been more ready for this challenge.

I feel like I have so much more to say but between my email inbox making annoying binging sounds, my
whatsapp buzzing and Mrs Jooste shouting at me to have some lunch it is apparent that the world is not
allowing me the pleasure of spending any more time with you today.

As always the directors welcome meetings for catch up and advice and Tanya is always available to
schedule the same. We love any excuse to get out of doing actual work and always find meetings to be
mutually beneficial.

Keep well, remain positive and if you watch the cents the rands will come.
On behalf of the Directorate