Dealing with clients makes my role dynamic. Each day is different with different challenges. The ultimate objective of investment management is to guard the savings of members. Knowing that I contribute to that objective is what I like about my job. Being a Client Director means that I am exposed to clients at different stages of their career journey. The conversation in one room can be very technical and very general at the same time. The art is to have the intelligence to know how to pitch a conversation to a diverse audience.
I grew up wanting to be a doctor and studied physics and maths at school. I ended up in a commerce class at university and that was the best decision I have ever made.
In my next lifetime I want to be a chef. In my spare time I mentor ten young female professionals. I have seen them grow and perform in different sectors. I started mentoring them at different stages in their lives, from selecting grade 10 school subjects to deciding which university to attend. This is the most fulfilling part of my life.
It is okay to have a little chaos in your life. Be present in whatever you do.
Always give your best. Loosen up and have some fun.
There are no short cuts, so you have to be prepared to work hard but work ‘smart’ and never forget to innovate. Never compromise your individuality – it is okay to be different.
It also doesn’t matter where you start in the value chain. You will end up where you want, but you need to focus. The industry is not for the faint-hearted; it is very rewarding for those who work hard and put in the hours.
The best advice I received was when I first started in the industry; my mentor said the industry is very competitive and I must find my niche and stick to it. I did exactly that and it has been rewarding.
My late parents remain my source of inspiration. They raised seven children and even though they were not educated, they made sure that we were all educated and independent. They had a clear vision that the only thing that would liberate us was education and they worked hard to achieve that. They had limited resources, but they prioritised education. The joke among siblings was that if you wanted dad to buy you new shoes, they had to be black so that he would think they were school shoes. I am also inspired by all the women leaders in the corporate world who can run households and participate meaningfully in boardrooms.
Diversity is a business imperative in South Africa. Investec Asset Management needs to truly represent the demographics of the South African population. We also need to be cognisant of the fact that we manage money on behalf of ordinary South African citizens and our business should represent that. If we want to achieve our five-year growth plan in South Africa, transformation should be part of that plan.
Investec Asset Management can attract the best talent in the industry, but retention is key. We have an exceptional global platform, and this should work for our diversity. We have made positive changes to address diversity by having a diversified management committee focusing on the South African business.
Phelisa is a Client Director within Investec Asset Management’s South African institutional team where she is responsible for a number of institutional client and consultant relationships. Prior to joining the firm, Phelisa was Head of Institutional Business at Sanlam Investment Management where she was responsible for growing and retaining the firm’s third-party institutional business book. Prior to that she was a Client Relationship Manager at Metropolitan Asset Management.
Phelisa graduated from the University of Cape Town with a Bachelor of Commerce degree and was a member of the Management Development Programme. In addition, she has a master’s degree in Financial Management from the University of London and is a Fellow member of the Institute of Directors in Southern Africa.