On the face of it, this might not be the best time to be taking on one of the big jobs in asset management. Not only are active managers under pressure like never before from the rise of cheaper index-tracking funds, the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting market dislocations have put them under even more intense scrutiny. 

But none of it fazes Duncan Artus, newly appointed as head of investments at Allan Gray, one of SA’s most recognised managers with R518bn worth of assets at the end of June. In a sign of how tough things have been, in 2019 the Cape Town-based company’s unit trusts, which have just under R300bn, saw outflows of R16.5bn, according to its latest annual report.

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