In conversation with Kelebogile Moloko, Prowess Investment Managers (Est. 2008)

For the launch of the 10th edition of the BEE.conomics – Transformation in South African Asset Management survey we interviewed some of the participants of the inaugural edition from 2009. The transcript has been redacted. For the full interview, listen to the podcast below.



27four: What were some of the challenges that you experienced in 2008 when you founded Prowess Investment Managers?

Kelebogile: I think it was really an exciting period for one to think big and to think differently in terms of what value one could bring into the financial services industry. When I started in 2008 it was right at the height of the 2008 credit financial crises. There was a lot of risk, but with the support of 27four Investment Managers I actually thought this is the opportune time because it gives one time to really start building up and be able to manage money in a more depressed market. I think it also added to building one’s track record.

So that was the challenge for me as an individual, as an investment professional and as a South African. So I really saw an opportunity with the experience that I had gained with my previous employers to actually make a difference with really customised investment products that would be seeking capital providers that are looking to really change the landscape of the South African economy.

27four: What are some of the lessons that you can share with start-ups?

Kelebogile: If you want to start your own firm I think you have to have conviction that there is value that you are going to add to clients. It’s good to be entrepreneurial but you have to think about what is the value that you will bring that is not already in the market? And do I have the skills to actually deliver in terms of the promise with the business strategy that I have?

The other aspect is that it is better to partner rather than to go on your own journey. Yes it’s a journey but it’s better to find like-minded people that share the same values, business strategy and investment strategy.

27four: Where do you see the asset management sector in the next 10 years?

Kelebogile: I’m extremely dissatisfied with how much money we are managing considering the skills pool that exist within the sector, given the compelling product offering, given the innovation and given how the market is actually structured and also given the returns that have been achieved by Black investment firms.

So what are the systemic factors that result in the slow growth that we have seen in terms of assets being allocated? I think one has to look at regulation, perhaps there has to be a lot more room that is created by regulation for asset owners to allocate assets to Black asset managers. I believe that we should be managing if it’s not 40% then close to 50% of the assets that are available in the market. I want to stress that we are going to have to work together rather than work in isolation to be able to realise that. We have to work with asset owners to demonstrate the capabilities that actually exist and to demonstrate why it is beneficial for Black investment managers to manage more assets in terms of being able to generate more investment returns for our clients.


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