Bankers and entrepreneurs are usually considered to be mutually exclusive beasts — but FirstRand has proved that wrong. It has, as its founding CEO Laurie Dippenaar puts it, the heartbeat of a merchant bank, a much more enterprising and quick-thinking version of the business than their lumbering retail cousins. It is a bank that, after all, gave birth to highly successful entrepreneurial businesses — Discovery and Outsurance being the best known.

Over the past decade, FirstRand has left all its peers in its dust, except for Capitec, which isn’t a full-service bank. For example, R10,000 invested in FirstRand a decade ago would have risen 363% to R46,350 today, excluding dividends. That’s far ahead of what R10,000 would have got you in Nedbank (R20,430 today), Standard Bank (R18,907) or Absa (R12,390). Capitec, however, would have turned R10,000 into R198,322...

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