2018 Has proved a big year for Old Mutual’s Wealth and Investment cluster. In this exclusive interview we take a look back – and a look ahead – with Managing Director David Macready.

In May, Old Mutual Investment Group was named not just South Africa’s Best Managed Company in Financial Services but the country’s Best Managed Company of the Year,
at the Top 500 Awards. How did you feel accepting the trophy?

I was enormously proud when accepting this trophy, because I saw it as validation of the quality we have built and the talent and intellectual property that contribute to it being such a great business to be part of. It is this talent that has enabled us to build a world-class investment company that sustainably delivers investment performance to our clients.

The award confirmed the success of our multi-boutique asset manager structure, which gives our investment professionals the independence to invest with focus and conviction. Our structure ultimately ensures that their interests are aligned with those of our clients given that they have ownership stakes in their boutiques and that they are invested alongside their clients  in the funds that they manage. Together, these various elements have positioned Old Mutual Investment Group as the leading asset manager in South Africa it is today, as recognised by the two awards we received from Top 500.

Then, in June, Old Mutual Limited (the holding company of Old Mutual Investment Group), historically relisted on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. How did this ‘African homecoming’
feel for you, personally?

 It’s been a hugely momentous time for us and another reason to feel proud. The JSE listing of Old Mutual Limited represented the culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication to the end goal of bringing Old Mutual, a South African household name, back home. The listing also firmly supports one of Old Mutual Investment Group’s missions: to invest sustainably for a future that matters across Africa. We already do this by investing substantially in infrastructure, housing, schools, education and agriculture in South Africa and across the African continent but, with the Group’s primary focus now firmly on Africa, we will be able to put even more energy and passion behind this.

Would you concur that the listing indicated top-level confidence at Old Mutual, in both South African and southern African economic prospects?

 Most definitely. The timing of the listing couldn’t have been better given the recent boost in confidence from SA’s new leadership and a refocus on Investment growth within the economy. However, while the renewed confidence has given the economy a reprieve, albeit short-lived, substantial structural reform is still needed if we are to materially improve our economic prospects. Within this context Old Mutual and Old Mutual Investment Group are committed to partnering with Government and other stakeholders in investing towards the greater good of South Africa and Africa more broadly.

Going back to the Group’s Top 500 Awards accolades, how important is it to recognise and promote ethical and astute management, specifically in the South African context?

The role that asset managers play in South Africa’s economic future should be reflected in the way in which they put the investment capital of their clients to work. Responsible investment is a crucial priority for the country, particularly against the backdrop of our current economic environment and the ethical challenges it has faced over the last decade. As asset managers we invest for the long-term and constantly seek sustainable investment opportunities that take Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) considerations into account.

When it comes to investment in SA companies, corporate governance is key. We believe it is important to understand the ethos of what really drives a company, how employees are rewarded and how they are measured. The cases we’ve seen in the market of late have been stark reminders of the need to apply not only an investment lens when considering investment opportunities, but also the principles of responsible investing.

While delivering market-beating returns for its clients, how does Old Mutual Investment Group benefit the communities in which it invests?

We pride ourselves in being leaders in responsible investment, with the aim of generating sustainable market-beating returns for our clients over the long term. Old Mutual Investment Group has invested over R20 billion to address gaps in social infrastructure through affordable housing and quality education. We believe in the need to invest with the aim of making a significant impact for the broader national community and we have seen some powerful success stories in this regard.

Our private equity involvement in toll roads, has created close to 1 000 jobs, for example, and we are exceptionally proud of initiatives such as the Early Childhood Development Programme, driven by Cookhouse, an investment in the Old Mutual IDEAS Fund, which aims to provide quality child care and access to education for children between the ages of 0 and 6 years among Eastern Cape communities.

Looking ahead now, give us a glimpse into the vision for the next five-ten years, at Old Mutual Investment Group?We see enormous growth potential ahead for this business, particularly given our investment performance momentum, client-friendly investment platforms and full range of listed and unlisted investment solutions. Our growth and market share gains are particularly evident in the retail space, as well as the unlisted alternative investments, multi-asset and fixed income arenas.

Ultimately, we are backed by a trusted brand, a significant balance sheet and key distribution strength, which are all key attributes for being successful. Our business is well positioned as a growth lever for the newly listed Old Mutual Limited as we continue to gain market share in pivotal market areas and we look forward to seeing where the future takes us.

Let’s end off with your personal management philosophy.

In my experience, there are three critical components that underpin successful leadership or management: vision, belief and passion. These have been the common characteristics of history’s greatest leaders and are relevant to today’s leadership from government, to labour, to business.

Truly remarkable leadership should demonstrate the ability to see the bigger picture, the resolute belief in your capacity to steer the ship and, ultimately, the passion that creates a sense that you are part of something bigger than yourself.

Effective leadership also means connecting and identifying with those that you lead and this should be built on reciprocal trust. Every leader should earn the conviction of those they lead that they have the team’s best interests at heart and that they genuinely believe in your ability to deliver excellence.

All boats rise with a tide; leadership is only really challenged when the tide goes out. Leadership takes courage, the courage to move forward and make the hard, but necessary decisions. Leaders should constantly change the game and to do this they have to learn, unlearn and relearn.

True leaders should therefore have a strong awareness of self and others in order to make impactful decisions.

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