Financial Planner of the year 2020

Ultima Financial Planners recently announced that one of their employees, Hester van der Merwe, was named 2020’s Financial Planner of the Year at the FPI’s annual awards ceremony which was held at Pigalle Restaurant in Sandton.

Hester joins founder and director, Gerrit Viljoen (2003) and Jan-Carel Botha (2012) as Ultima Financial Planners’ third winner of this coveted title.

“It is a remarkable achievement to be confirmed as an industry leader but with that also comes a responsibility to take the lead when it comes to professional service, innovative solutions, deep-rooted customer relationships and quality financial advice,” says Ultima Financial Planners’ director, Hendri de Klerk.

“We are very proud of Hester for achieving this remarkable accomplishment in the midst of a challenging year. People do not always understand the hard work, in addition to her normal Ultima responsibilities, that goes into something like this. However, we never doubted her ability and know that she has played and will continue to play a major role in the financial planning sector.”

This award is considered the highest accolade bestowed on financial planners in South Africa and represents the very pinnacle of the profession.

Candidates had to undergo a rigorous selection process and had to showcase their skills and expertise through numerous practical challenges.

According to the FPI, Hester set herself apart from the competition through the depth of her knowledge, the immense detail of her financial plans and her exceptional personal commitment to her clients.

“I am in total awe of the years of dedication and hard work it has taken for each winner to get where they are,” says Lelané Bezuidenhout, CEO of the FPI. “2020 has reminded me that there is no such thing as luck – only hard work, dedication and professionalism.”

¬¬Other 2020 award winners include BDO Wealth Advisers (Professional Practice of the Year), Didintle Mokonoto (Diversity and Inclusion Award), Caroline da Silva (Harry Brews Award), Francois du Toit (It Starts with Me Award) and Brandon Ellse (Top Candidate Award).

“Firstly, I want to give all the glory to my Heavenly Father, who makes everything possible. I feel incredibly humbled and thankful to be this year’s winner. I am excited and a little nervous at the same time, but cannot wait to sink my teeth into all that next year will bring,” says Hester about the honour of winning this prestigious prize. “Thank you to the FPI who has entrusted me with this role! I expect it to be a steep learning curve, but now that the ball is my court, I plan on giving it my best shot.”

Hester has more than seventeen years of experience in financial planning and joined the Ultima team in 2015, where she fulfils the role of director, financial planner and advisor. Prior to joining Ultima Financial Planners, she worked as a financial planner at FNB and has always enjoyed adding value to her clients’ lives.

She initially studied Law at the University of Pretoria. After entering the financial sector, she decided to further her education by obtaining a postgraduate diploma in Financial Planning from the University of the Free State, as well as a certificate in Advanced Trust Law from the University of Pretoria.

Her long-term goal is not only to advance her profession as an ambassador of the FPI, but also to educate and inspire women from all walks of life.

“I think that it is time for women to put on their financial boots and climb that mountain! If I can inspire someone to become a planner, or face their own finances and take control, or maybe just get involved in the household finances, I will feel that I have made good use of my year,” she shares.

Hester currently resides in Pretoria, with her husband and three children. Outside of finance, she enjoys mountain biking, camping, reading, baking, spending time with her family and doing DIY projects in and around the house. She believes that everyone has a unique financial story and wants to help people to understand it in order to take control of their own finances.

“I would like to introduce as many people as possible to their money story. This is in line with my belief that we work with the person first and then with the portfolio. We all have things in our lives that affect the way we look at money and, by helping clients to understand this, I can motivate them to take action and change their situation,” Hester concludes.


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- Local female entrepreneurs will gather to network, learn from each other & urge the private sector as well as the government to do more to support the economic development of women


[November 2020] Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED) is a global initiative celebrated at the United Nations and in 144 countries including 65 universities and colleges.

Commemorated annually on 19 November, WED ignites women leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs to consider developing their own businesses, drive economic expansion, and advance communities worldwide. The movement also educates the world on the importance of why it’s pivotal to empower women in business globally. The movement is spearheaded by the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organisation (WEDO), founded by Social Entrepreneur and Humanitarian Wendy Diamond.


“When women are elevated financially, communities and countries prosper. We believe this blueprint could alleviate and eradicate poverty,” says WEDO Founder Wendy Diamond.




This year, the United Nations #WEDO2020 Summit on 19 November will be held virtually, opening up an opportunity for everyone interested in making a positive impact for women in business worldwide to join an inspiring and powerful collective of WEDO Change Makers to empower celebrate and support women in business. The agenda will also include a focus on helping women navigating the difficult economic climate. The event will be live streamed on @WomensEntrepreneurship Facebook page.


In addition to the United Nations Summit, a series of virtual and in-person events will be hosted across the globe including Southern Africa.



The 3rd annual Bio Summit, the headline event in South Africa, will also be held virtually this year on 20 November 2020. The event themed: Evolving, the only way to thrive, boasts an all-star line-up of corporate and entrepreneur speakers from Africa and Europe sharing their pivot strategies to thrive through this global Covid-19 pandemic.


“Resisting this change and remaining the same will not work with everything changing around us, what brought us here will sure not take us to the future,” says Nokuthula Magwaza, BioSummit Host and WEDO SA Ambassador.


The Summit convenes business leaders, change makers, government officials and civil society to collaborate and find solutions in critical areas of entrepreneurship eco-systems, education and policy creation to empower women in business.


The format includes keynotes speeches, masterclasses, fireside chats, matchmaking and an awards ceremony.


The virtual Summit runs from 09h00 to 16h00 on 20 November. Bookings cost R200p/p and can be made at


As is customary local entrepreneurs have had the choice of additional events such as the Table of Influence, which included a personal branding masterclass hosted at 10am on 14 November in East London and Pretoria, as well as a youth event focused on The New Normal to be held in Pretoria on 17 and 18 November.


“The Women’s Entrepreneurship Day events are an invitation to African women leaders pioneering transformation and gender equality in politics, business and communities to share their journey with a strategic intent of empowering the next generation of women leaders,” says Nokuthula Magwaza BioSummit Host and WEDO SA Ambassador.


“Our message for #WEDO2020 of supporting and empowering women in business to help uplift girls living in poverty is more needed, pivotal, and impacting now more than ever. It’s estimated that the global pandemic is having a deeper effect on women’s jobs, and gender inequality is rising. We are very thankful to our partners across Southern Africa for working tirelessly with us to support the economic development of women.” adds Diamond.


Sponsors for this year’s local WED celebrations include:


The Lead WEDO SA Event has been sponsored by:

  1. Bloom Marketing
  2. Allan Gray
  3. MIR Agency


The East London WEDO Event was sponsored by

  1. Virtue Business Solutions
  2. Jewel Weddings
  3. Bloom Marketing
  4. Mr Sweets


The Tshwane WEDO Event partners are:

  1. HER Company
  2. YESA


The hashtag #WEDOSA2020 will track local activities.

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My CannaButter

My CannaButter

I was very concerned how I was going to get nice pretty feet for Summer as I did not have the time to go to the salon.

Kamogela and her product My Canna Butter crossed my path and I was in for a treat.  Within minutes I had nice,  soft feet and I did not even leave my home.

Hats off to Kamogela and her product.

You can contact Kamogela at 

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Nunuki for Little Humans

Nunuki for little Humans

My first grandchild was born on the 5th October 2020 and Nana sent a hamper of products to my daughter.  She says she loves the different characters of each product and that the products are colourful and smell so nice.  As the products come in their own travelling bag it means that when they go away on holiday nothing will be left behind.


From Alethea, Mason and proud granny a heartfelt thank you to Nana and her team.

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Indulge Without the bulge

Indulge without the bulge

5 healthy habits to adopt this festive season

Finally on track to reaching your goal weight? Catherine Clark, Owner and Founder of The Harvest Table advises not to waste all your hard work this festive season by throwing caution to the wind and eating everything that comes your way. She says, “Many of us see the holidays as an opportunity to let loose and overindulge, but come January we are riddled with guilt and regret.”

She adds that whilst December isn’t necessarily the time to lose weight, you don’t have to put on weight either, “The fact is that you will be tempted to overeat and do less exercise, so key is not to deprive yourself, but rather to navigate the festive season so that you can indulge without the bulge,” she says.

Catherine offers these 5 healthy habits to adopt this festive season:

1. Don’t drink your calories: Most alcohol, juice and carbonated drinks are high in sugar and can significantly contribute to your calorie intake. What tends to happen is that you don’t realise you are on your third drink, and by then, you’ve consumed empty calories that can lead to weight gain. Choose low-calorie alcohol alternatives or non-alcoholic options like water or soda water, flavoured with fruits, herbs and extracts which will help quench your thirst without the added sugar.
2. Steer clear of the snack table: The best way to navigate the snack table is to not socialise around it as this will lead to mindless eating. Also, instead of ‘finger-picking’, dish up your snacks (even crisps!) on a small plate. According to Harvard Health Publishing being distracted or not paying attention to a meal tends to make people eat more. As such, you can also adopt mindful eating habits and ask yourself simple questions like, “Am I hungry or am I just eating because there is food?”
3. Eat your greens first: Reach for the green leafy vegetables before you pile on foods with high fat and sugar content. Fill half your plate with healthy vegetables and eat those first as this will prevent overindulging because there will be less room for the rich-food items. One way to achieve this is by using the 60/40 rule, which is an extension of the 80/20 rule. While at a gathering, you can eat 60% nutritious food and 40% of your favourite things to help you stay on track with your goals.
4. Watch your eating in the day so that you don’t have to at night: Most festive season activities go into the evening, so if you know that you going to an afternoon/evening event, eat low-energy-dense foods over breakfast and lunch, and watch your portions. This way, you can space out your energy intake, ensure that you’re full throughout the day, and you will have a chance to enjoy supper with no guilt.
5. Drink lots of water: Water has zero calories and many benefits like helping you stay hydrated, maintaining the balance of body fluids in your body and easing constipation. Plus, it keeps you fuller for longer! Your body is comprised of 60% of water which is necessary for functions such as digestion, transportation of nutrients, the creation of saliva and more, so it’s good to drink it throughout the day. Always carry a water bottle with you, and if you’re entertaining at home, make sure to place a jug of water where you can see it as it will be easier for you to drink.
“The festive season doesn’t have to result in extra kilos by January. The important thing is to be mindful and adequately prepare to ensure that you don’t regret your food choices and the consequences thereof,” Catherine concludes.

Since inception in 2018, The Harvest Table has been creating pure, wholesome products packaged earth consciously to change the lives of our customers positively by educating them and helping them to make better food choices daily.
For more information, please visit:

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