Diversity and inclusion in South African asset management

Asset management is one of the most important industries in SA, responsible for safeguarding for overseeing the savings of millions of workers across SA. Is it right that 27 years after the advent of democracy that black-owned managers are largely left out, accounting for just 9% of assets? Is that number a true reflection of what is happening in the industry given other transformation efforts in the sector? Nevertheless, there is broad agreement that the sector can do more to achieve a more equitable racial and gender balance.

This debate is happening in the context of a global-wide disruption of the industry with the growing dominance of passive, low-cost products. By their nature, they favour bigger companies who have the sufficient scale to generate profits off lower fees. On the other hand, SA has one of the widest array of investment managers and unit trust offerings in the world. Creating a wider pool of black asset managers will by definition mean more fragmentation at a time when the global trend is towards consolidation. How can SA reconcile these two seemingly conflicting realities?

To discuss this very pertinent but complex topic, we’ve assembled some of the leading minds in the industry to discuss how South Africa can achieve a more inclusive asset management industry in a manner that does not result in unintended consequences.