Few people can remember the days before Stephen Koseff ran Investec. He had the official title of CEO for 22 years but in effect started to run the company eight years before that. Koseff was not one of the founders of the company, which was started in 1974 by Ian Kantor, Errol Grolman and Larry Nestadt, as a leasing business. But Koseff, along with Ian Kantor’s brother Bernard, raised the stakes as the group moved into specialist banking and asset management. If not quite a multinational, Investec is definitely an established brand in SA and the UK. Koseff cuts a deceptively informal, even untidy, figure — yet, barring RMB’s founders, he is the most astute banker in Johannesburg. Investec is treated by the capital markets as part of the banking establishment — it issues bonds with a very similar interest rate. Yet even before digital technology made it common, it ran without a branch network. The only other institution also on the fringes of the Big Four banks is Capitec, which has...

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