Benchmarking against global trends
"There are a lot of executive education programmes here in South Africa, but I wanted something
with a specifically global perspective. Although I’ve enjoyed a rich and varied banking career, I’d
reached a place where I felt my skill set needed some enhancement, and I wanted to check in on the
latest industry trends. LBS offered me the opportunity to learn alongside ambitious people managing
similar businesses elsewhere in the world, with exposure to a global audience and global
In the end, I found the Strategic Investment Management programme an ideal learning
environment. We had participants from Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and South America, so
it offered me a true understanding of what was happening elsewhere in the industry at a global
level. It was also a way for me to benchmark best practice – I engaged with and learnt something
from every colleague on the programme. And of course the faculty, Narayan Naik and Stephen
Schaefer, and the way they articulated their subjects with such passion, was particularly impressive.
The Investment Fund Simulation was a real highlight for me – not that my group did that well! We
were too greedy and took too many risks so didn’t end up with the desired outcome, but
understanding that you can’t just go and grab all the risk and put all your investments in one basket
was a strong learning point for me. We went very aggressive on speculative bonds and didn’t
balance it out with other asset classes – it was the perfect ‘safe’ environment in which to try out new
strategies. It was also a great way to experience team dynamics, with a smart group of
people who were a little removed from investment decision-making. They helped me look
at different aspects in addition to the very technical components I was used to.
What was most useful was to see that, within the industry, some things stay the same, and others
change. The programme was a good reminder that the basics are still valid no matter what. Times
change, but the fundamental principles of investment remain solid, something that the professors
reinforced. And in contrast, it’s key to identify current and emerging trends. For example, people are
living longer, so pension funds now need to invest for lifespans of up to 100 years, rather than the
traditional span of 65-70 years.
Then of course, there’s the emergence of new technologies and alternative asset classes. I really
took that on board, and now I’m back at work we’re beginning to experiment with new and slightly
riskier alternative assets that build more wealth for our clients, as opposed to the more conservative
route we’d always followed before. Our move into fixed income and other securities has generated a
lot of interest, and we now have clients asking for more exposure, and more geographic
diversification. So we’ve started taking some funds offshore – only a small 10-30% - but something
that reflects people’s appetite for risk. Slowly, and carefully, we’re moving towards more non-traditional areas."