Kirsten Kern

Kirsten Kern

Johannesburg, South Africa
T: +27 11 669 9553
  • Overview
  • Experience
  • Publications & Insights


Kirsten Kern is a partner in our Johannesburg office, in the Banking and Finance Department.

She specialises in banking and financial services regulatory law and has practiced in this field for the firm’s account since 2006.

Kirsten has over 16 years of experience and expertise in all aspects of banking, financial services and investment management regulatory law, and regularly advises clients, both local and foreign, on the content and implications of the National Credit Act, 2005, the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act, 2002, the Collective Investment Schemes Control Act, 2002, the National Payment Systems Act, 1998, the Banks Act, 1990, the Financial Intelligence Centre Act, 2001, the Financial Markets Act, 2012, the Insurance Act, 2017, the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, 2002 and the Consumer Protection Act, 2008.  Kirsten also advises clients on the Financial Sector Regulation Act, 2017 (South Africa’s primary “Twin Peaks” regulation), as well as on the Conduct of Financial Institutions Bill and its implications for the future of the South African financial services landscape under the ‘Twin Peaks’ model of regulation.

She has strong contacts with the various regulatory bodies and agencies operative under the Acts on which she advises and she regularly engages on behalf of clients with the National Credit Regulator, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority, the South African Reserve Bank, the Prudential Authority, the Financial Intelligence Centre and the National Consumer Commission.

Kirsten regularly advises top-tier local and foreign clients including financial service providers and asset managers, fund managers, payment services providers, fintech service providers, banking institutions, credit providers and credit bureaux with applications for regulatory registration, licensing, authorisation, approval and exemptions.  In addition to registration, licensing, authorisation and approval requirements, Kirsten assists clients with ongoing compliance and regulatory enforcement matters, and with product structuring, distribution and marketing in compliance with  applicable legislation.

She has LLB and LLM (Banking Law) degrees (both awarded cum laude) from the Rand Afrikaans University (RAU) (now the University of Johannesburg).

Specialist Services

Relevant Experience

  • Advised and assisted various entities, local and foreign, to obtain authorisation or exemptions (where relevant) from the Financial Sector Conduct Authority in accordance with the requirement to be licensed as a financial service provider in terms of the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act, 2002.
  • Advised and assisted foreign entities to establish a local presence in South Africa and to obtain the necessary authorisation / licensing from the National Credit Regulator in accordance with the National Credit Act, 2005.
  • Advised a leading South African bank on capital adequacy requirements and their application to its Pan-African subsidiaries.
  • Advised a South African bank in relation to its intention to acquire an African subsidiary in compliance with the Banks Act, 1990.
  • Advised Capitec Bank Limited in relation to its proposed acquisition of Mercantile Bank Limited.
  • Regularly advises Credit Suisse AG (Switzerland), Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan, Bank of America, N.A., Bank of New York Mellon, Standard Chartered Bank, Nomura International PLC, Nomura Asset Management, Nomura International PLC, T. Rowe Price International Ltd, The Standard Bank of South Africa, Capitec Bank Limited and countless other clients regarding all aspects of South African banking and financial services regulation.
  • Established Clearscore Pty Ltd in South Africa from scratch in 2017 and continues to regularly advise ClearScore and other entities regulated in terms of the National Credit Act, 2005, regarding ongoing compliance obligations and the making of submissions to the National Credit Regulator.
  • Advised WiGroup Proprietary Limited on the regulatory implications of a mobile application which facilitates peer-to-peer money transfers.
  • Advised AirBnB Payments UK Limited on its proposed offering of peer-to-peer payment capabilities in South Africa
  • Advised WhatsApp on proposed payments services in South Africa.
  • Advised Mastercard on a host of broad payments-related matters from a regulatory and legal perspective.
  • Acted as African counsel for Validus Holdings in its acquisition of Flagstone Reinsurance Holdings RSA, a New York Stock Exchange listed entity, and specifically in relation to Flagstone’s subsidiary, Flagstone Reinsurance Africa Limited, a South African-domiciled short-term insurer.
  • Advised Midbrook Lane Pty Ltd, Riskowitz Value Fund, Protea Asset Management LLC and Khrom Investments Fund, LP regarding the acquisition of increased indirect shareholding in three registered insurers forming part of the Constantia Group
  • Advised Alexander Forbes Group Holdings on its dual track M&A and ZAR 9.8 billion IPO process, which resulted in Alexander Forbes Group Holdings listing on the JSE. After announcing its intention to float, the company launched an offer for subscription and a concurrent offer for sale by existing shareholders.


  • Chambers and Partners ranked Kirsten in Band 3 for FinTech Legal for four consecutive years (2020-2023).
  • Who’s Who Legal: Banking (Regulatory) named Kirsten as a Leading Lawyer – South Africa for years 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023).
  • Who’s Who Legal: Fintech named Kirsten as a Leading Lawyer – South Africa for years 2018 to 2022 (2023 inclusion confirmation pending).

‘I have been very impressed with her opinions and advice.’ – Chambers and Partners, 2023

‘Kirsten Kern has a well-developed practice as a banking and finance group partner advising companies on the regulatory aspects of emerging technologies in the financial sector. Her recent clients include Virgin Money, which she assisted in the establishment of its Spot application.’ – Chambers and Partners, 2021

Publications & Insights