Give us a brief introduction to Mianzo since its inception.
The objective when opening Mianzo was to differentiate ourselves from the big corporates in terms of doing investments. What drove me was the need to have platforms where investment professionals could trade and be involved in the investment process from beginning till end. We are fortunate to have people that think like I do, putting our personal interest and prepared to grind to see Mianzo succeed.
What was Mianzo’s first asset to manage? What is the value of your assets under management now?
Our first client came from the North-West in 2010. We wanted to present what we believed in the most and what we were capable of. At that time, being a small start-up company, we could only offer protection on a risky asset. I wanted it to be the first black derivatives boutique to provide downside protection to any asset class. That does not require a lot of resources or administrative capabilities. The size of the assets at that time was 342 million Rand. We are currently sitting with 13 institutional clients and the assets under management just reached 3,2 billion Rand.
We wanted a diverse group of clients, that way, we would reduce the risk of each individual client. We are probably the only emerging asset managers with such client diversity. The team has to go through a number of due-diligence visits from different consultants. Clients are then comfortable because different heads have looked at our processes and come to the same conclusion.
What is your investment philosophy?
We are a “value house”. We take care of the companies that are undervalued. We are running a multi-asset class platform and an equity long only platform. Our philosophy would be “preserving capital fast and then going for yield”. If the market goes down, our portfolios more robust than someone else who is growth oriented. We are more conservative than the big competitors.
Are you planning to expand your client base from institutional investors to a broader base?
Yes, but It takes more time and more resources and you need to have a solid track record to enter that space. We already have done a due-diligence with one of the service providers, with whom we would like to co-brand their unit trust vehicle. In time, we will have a Mianzo Unit Trust.
As a black-owned asset management company, what do you think can be done to improve the social economic transformation in the financial services space?
Today, there are around 45 black asset managers. The drive of black managers or the access to capital can be the reason that allowed them to exist.
One of the reasons why Mianzo was set up is to have a platform for the talented black students to be able to learn, be mentored. South African universities are full of such talents. 90% of the people interviewed at Mianzo for an analyst position are black students and our criteria is that, on an equal skill set, we will prioritize the student that comes from a disadvantaged background.
How does Mianzo compete in performance with the biggest companies in the asset management market?
We don’t compare ourselves performance wise or in terms of size. What sets us apart is that we only deal with the instruments that we know best. We don’t touch anything we don’t control. We dig deep into our asset classes to get as the maximum possible returns from them but now we need to develop new investment ideas: In other words, we need more research analysts.
What is your plan in terms of growth and expansion for Mianzo for the next 2-3 years?
in 2018, Mianzo should be sitting at around 5 billion assets under management. In three years, we will have doubled that with just a few additions to the team.