top of page

HOT TOPIC | Optimum appoints former Sanlam Investments chief as chairman

Robert Roux brings a wealth of experience to the boutique.

Boutique firm Optimum Investment Group (OIG) has appointed former Sanlam Investments CEO Robert Roux as its non-executive chairman. Roux, who stepped down as head of the Sanlam Investments business at the end of 2021, took up the role from the start of September.

‘I know a little about investment businesses, how bigger corporates think about investments, and how to position a business for growth in certain areas,’ Roux told Citywire South Africa in an interview. ‘When you are small like OIG is, there is a great opportunity to position specifically to be attractive for a client base that they can choose.’

Roux added he intends to help OIG, which has total assets under management of R11bn, to focus the business on delivering compelling solutions for its clients.

‘It is important to think a little more like a client. How does a client think about their wealth, and what do they want from an asset manager? I want to try to introduce some of that if I can,’ Roux (pictured below) said.

Director and head of strategy at OIG, Eugene Visagie, said that the firm had moved away from a fund of funds model and is bringing more capabilities in-house.

‘We are already managing most of our equity allocations internally, and we are expanding that capability,’ he said.

He added that the firm is working on creating unique products with a differentiated focus.

‘There are thousands of Cat II businesses in South Africa, so how you differentiate is important,’ Visagie said. ‘First and foremost, that means having different products but doing so from seeing what is really needed from a client perspective.

‘Apart from expanding our investment capabilities, we are building solutions for clients using alternatives and hedge funds, and we’re in the process of launching an unlisted credit fund. We are looking to find alternative drivers of return, particularly because the local listed market is shrinking, so we have to think outside of the box.’

Francois Botha, OIG’s CIO, added that he believes the firm’s size is advantageous.

‘Because we are nimble enough, we can access opportunities that perhaps some competitors will struggle to reach,’ he said.

The group is also looking to expand its offshore offering.

‘Especially with Regulation 28 now being so much wider and with all the delisting's in South Africa, we think this is important,’ Visagie said. ‘We are not negative on South Africa. We still feel there’s massive opportunity here. But, at the end of the day, you need diversification. South Africa is a small drop in the global pond, and there is massive opportunity when you go offshore.’

Visagie (pictured above) said that 70% of Optimum’s book is in the retail market, managed through financial advisers.

‘We don’t target end investors directly,’ he added. ‘We work very closely with advisers and not just those in the Optimum group. Half of the advisers we work with now sit outside Optimum.

‘The other 30% of our book is smaller institutional business, such as employee benefits and asset consulting.’

Source: CITYWIRE, 1 Nov 2023

42 views0 comments
bottom of page