An Investment Journey

 

Phase one complete; Phase two ahead…

Every industry is different – its own unique language, subtleties, complexities and idiosyncrasies. The investment industry is no exception – it is as nuanced and challenging as any other, maybe more so. I have been actively involved in the industry for the past twenty-five years, and counting. It has been a real privilege, but I also have the battle scars to show for it.

Over this period, I have witnessed incredible markets: Three major bear markets (’97 Asian crisis, ’99 TMT bubble and the ‘07/’08 US housing crisis, and the global crash that then followed); Four major bull markets, including the current extended one; acronyms too many to list, but including GFC, ZIRP, NIRP, QE and QT; Negative global bond yields; Cryptocurrencies & ICOs, and so much more. Markets are once again near record highs, but with many measures sounding alarm bells. Will this time really be different?

The markets never sleep and nor does this industry. It is an extremely innovative, exciting and challenging one, and one that I remain passionate about. Each day brings with it new challenges, and new opportunities. I thus awake excited each day to see just what that day has to offer. From market rallies to market crashes; From macro-economics and asset allocation to micro company analysis and stock selection; From the sell-side to the buy-side, and from long-only to alternatives – it’s complex, it’s global and its’s ever-changing. I have been intimately involved in most of these areas, and engaged with some of the smartest, and richest, people on the planet, learning a great deal along the way.

My career started from relatively humble beginnings as a buy-side equity analyst, to becoming the Chief Investment Officer (CIO) ofInvestment Solutions (IS) (now Alexander Forbes Investments), comfortably the largest multi-manager business in South Africa, growing assets from some R10bn to over R300bn (some $25bn) over that time. My work took me to dozens of cities globally, where I was enthralled to meet many best-of-breed managers in virtually every major, listed asset class. Those trips also included dedicated research ones to each of the five BRICS, culminating in the publication in 2014 of the book, HalfWay There. Presenting the key messages from the book to audiences, in South Africa, New York and London, was a career highlight.

My focus increasingly revolved around Responsible Investing (RI), another of my passion points, where I pushed both IS, and the wider industry, to focus far more intensely on matters of an ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) nature. I effected a partnership deal with the WWF, bringing with that partnership their resources to both challenge, but also to assist, the asset management industry in these critical and challenging areas.

I have continued to present on the findings flowing from my book, as well as other of my investment-related audiences, in both SA and Africa. The presentations have achieved some acclaim, and I continue to seek out more of those. It as an aspect of my career that I have always particularly enjoyed.

 

More recently I have worked closely with a number of direct asset managers, and in particular black asset management firms, in respect of investments and corporate strategy, in both a consulting, as well as an advisory capacity. I have also performed due diligences on a few smaller financial services companies with a view to potentially investing in them. The learning and exposure through those interactions, has assisted me further in broadening my knowledge, and network base, too.

My vision is to again emulate my success at IS, by taking a smaller financial services company and turning it into a larger, more efficient, respected and profitable one. I would hope to be able to bring all my skills and experience garnered over the past twenty-five plus years in the industry to bear, along with my passion, hard work and ability to focus on a goal and vision – and then to achieve it.

I thus look forward to continuing my journey and to building the next exciting chapter in my career…