Stephen Cranston Writer & columnist

Few international asset managers believe it is necessary to open a sales office in SA. Historically, the regulators made them jump through hoops before they could register their funds for sale. So the foreign mutual fund business sometimes looked like a cartel dominated by Allan Gray’s sister firm Orbis, Investec Asset Management (now Ninety One) and at times Stanlib. SA is just too small and geographically remote for fund managers to focus on. And most of the sales are still not directly through mutual funds but through endowment policies offered by life companies such as Old Mutual International, Sanlam’s Glacier and Momentum.

Some fund management groups have made a tentative stab at the market, such as Invesco. Fidelity, for many years the world’s largest active manager, got traction through its distribution partnership with Standard Bank and then Stanlib, but it ran its own office for just a year or two before leaving. Even BlackRock has let country manager Barbara Vintcen...

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