If someone came to you tomorrow with R100m to invest in just one company, which would it be?
I would invest it in Simon Property Group. It is not only the world’s largest publicly traded real estate company, but also the largest shopping centre landlord globally. The company owns more than 200 shopping centres in the US and Asia, and holds a 29% stake in Klépierre, a European real estate investment trust with more than 250 shopping centres across Europe. I prefer exposure to retail property as I believe it is more defensive and less cyclical than office and industrial property. It is also a sector where the barriers to entry are high and management can use creativity and innovation to differentiate their portfolios from others. Besides having strong fundamentals, the stock is trading at a 15% discount to net asset value, which I believe is good value for money.
Which talent would you most like to have?
To learn and speak as many foreign languages as possible.
What was your first job?
My first job was as a real estate credit analyst at Rand Merchant Bank’s real estate investment banking division. I joined RMB as a graduate but was moved immediately into the real estate team given my educational background in architecture and property studies.
What’s your biggest regret?
I’m a strong believer in not regretting anything in life, as mistakes present a good learning opportunity. However, if I had to highlight one, I would say I regret not investing in listed property earlier. If I had started investing in listed property when I started working in 2012, I would have doubled my investments by now, even amid the volatility that has occurred in the past two years.
What was your worst investment mistake?
Investing my personal savings too conservatively (such as holding them in cash). It was only when I started working at Stanlib that I started to understand how investments work and had enough conviction to start investing my own savings in various unit trusts. I guess it is a common problem for many young people who are too afraid to invest their hard-earned money into investments they don’t quite understand.
What’s the best investment you’ve ever made?
Investing in my education. My parents always said that education is one thing no-one can take away from you, and I will always remember that.
If you found a lottery ticket tomorrow that had won US$100m, what would you do?
I would donate 20% of the proceeds to a charity with a good cause, spend 20% on a yacht to sail around the world with my other half, and invest the residual. I would most likely invest it in income-focused unit trusts/securities to ensure that the investments generate sufficient income to cover my expenses while I tour the world.
Apple or Samsung (or Nokia)?
Apple! Need I say more?
What’s your favourite song?
"Dance with My Father", by Luther Vandross.
On what occasions do you lie?
Cupcakes don’t have calories ...
Your greatest extravagance?
I value experiences over material things, so I would say my greatest extravagances are my vacations to new cities and my scuba gear.
Name a place you’ve been to that lived up to the hype. amazing city that has a great balance between being a modern city yet preserving Japan’s unique traditions and cultural identity. I also love the Japanese mind-set, where working and succeeding as a collective supersedes individualism.
If you could fix one thing in SA today, what would it be?
I believe that we should encourage and create a more conducive environment for entrepreneurs and small businesses to grow. It will improve unemployment, empower communities and contribute to the country’s growth.