A day in the life with Selekane Asset Management Consultants

Re-setting the benchmark in the Financial Services industry

Selekane Asset Consultants is an independent black-owned firm offering a wide range of investment consulting services to pension funds, medical aid funds and other such institutional funds. The only 100% black-owned and managed firm of its kind, Selekane aims to provide clear and impartial, professional advice on the increasingly multi-faceted issues facing institutional investors in today’s complex investment environment.

A big champion for changing the way the industry works, Selekane has offices in South Africa, Zambia, Namibia and Botswana and manages assets in excess of R90 billion.

We had the privilege of sitting down with the founder and CEO, Mxolisi Mbekwa, and we asked him the following:

1.Please give us a brief history of Selekane. How did you decide to start the company? How long ago? Why?

In 2006, having worked in the industry for over 12 years, we took a bold decision of embarking on what seemed like an impossible venture of opening a business in the concentrated and traditionally white-dominated asset consulting industry. We identified a gap in the market for a black owner-managed firm which would influence asset allocation decisions to support the transformational agenda of our country. To achieve our vision, Selekane sourced funding from Old Mutual South Africa (OMSA). The funding ensured that Selekane was well capitalised to build infrastructure, attract the best talent in the industry and facilitate a sustainable business model.

2.What does the company do?

Over the past 10 years, Selekane has been offering a wide range of consulting services in both on local and international investments to institutional funds. We have recently broadened our scope of services to include Employee Benefits Consulting, Trustee Training Services and Investment Technology Development.3.Is there a meaning behind the name?

3.Is there a meaning behind the name?

Selekane is a Sesotho word meaning covenant, and thus captures the core of our vision, which is establishing a business that is a leader in service excellence, independence and integrity.

4.What is it about the financial services industry that you aim to transform?

Historically, the South African investment services industry was designed to support the apartheid model of economic distribution, which excluded the majority of citizens. Our view is that successful implementation of transformation objectives should result in normalised distribution of economic benefits. Our industry plays a critical role in influencing asset allocation decisions, which can be a useful tool to support transformation. Selekane has been at the forefront of driving the transformation agenda, alongside delivering returns for our clients. Consequently, some allocations are made to establish a thriving black asset management industry, as well as investments in non-traditional infrastructure development. We believe this is the only way South Africa could be sustainable going forward.

5.You say you’re re-setting the benchmark in the industry. How are you doing that?

What drives Selekane is our continuous pursuit of driving meaningful change in the way our industry operates, supported by the deep belief that the status quo is only there to be re-set. For far too long investors have been led to believe that there is only one way for investments to be carried out – an approach that led to ultimate profit for only a few, and not in the best interests of investors and society. We aim to transform the financial services industry by challenging these accepted norms – where we do well by doing right by our clients and, in turn, serving their interests as well as our own, in equal measure.

Outside of the Selekane Asset Management Consultants office building

Selekane offices. Source: Black Pepper Properties

6.Realistically, do we have skills locally to be able to successfully do this?

Oh yes! There is an abundance of local talent to perform these tasks. Even when you look at other black-owned firms, you will find that these businesses are founded by professionals who have been successful at large houses. However, our unique situation in South Africa is such that clients tend to set impossible standards for black professionals to demonstrate that they are better for them to compete, which is not the same standard applied to our white counterparts

7.Where do you source your people from?

Our most senior consultants are seasoned professionals recruited from the industry. We also offer entry level positions to university graduates who form part of our analyst base.

8.What do you look for in a person, other than educational qualifications?

The nature of our work demands that we hire highly educated big-picture-thinking people, who are both analytical and detail oriented. There is no space for short-cuts in this game. You have to be thorough in everything you touch.

9.How big is your team? And what kind of skills and roles is it comprised of?

We have CFAs and CFPs, as well as Master’s and PhD graduates. At entry level, we are interested in bright sparks who have majored in Mathematics, Economics, Finance or Investment Management. Our core investment team is made up of 12 investment professionals.