Stephen Cranston Writer & columnist

One of the biggest changes in the 30 years I have been covering financial services has been the shift in power and influence away from stockbrokers (the sell side) towards asset managers (the buy side). Stockbrokers had deep pockets in the days of fixed commissions before 1996, and for a while after that international banking groups such as Deutsche, Citi and JPMorgan were happy to pay for the perceived talent in stockbroker research.

In the meantime, asset managers made a slow journey from being little more than the investment divisions of life companies: think Liberty Asset Management, Old Mutual Investments and Sanlam Investments. They were unlikely to receive anything like the bonuses available on the sell side as there was a civil service culture in these life offices. Buy-side analysts had zero profile, and it was kept that way. The only independent of any note was the secretive Allan Gray. But though performance was often good it struggled to gather much more than R100m...

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