ANALYSE THIS: Ashburton Investments' Jason Forssman
We analyse Jason Forssman, fund manager at Ashburton Investments.
If someone came to you tomorrow with R100m to invest in just one company, which would it be?
We live in a world where the digitisation of everything is inevitable. The winners of the future are companies that not only understand the opportunities presented by this process but are the drivers thereof and have a clear ability to monetise their outputs. For now the most comfortable investment in this space would be Alphabet (Google).
Which talent would you most like to possess?
Apart from singing (my daughter says I am terrible) I wish I had the talent of archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu, who is able to cut through all barriers and engage on a direct and personal level with almost any person.
What was your first job?
As a youngster I pretty much did all the menial jobs you can think of — from being a construction worker and a security guard to selling hot dogs from a food wagon and acting as waiter/barman and random entrepreneur. My first professional job was as a credit analyst at Société Générale.
What’s your biggest regret?
Toward the end of university I started to take myself way too seriously and was anxious to start my career. Later I realised that there was no urgency at all and I wished I had spent some time travelling and learning a bit more about myself first.
What was the worst investment mistake you have made?
Not buying Naspers in 2008 after I had told everyone else to.
What’s the best investment you’ve ever made?
I have spent a large part of my career behind proprietary trading desks and managing hedge funds. My most memorable personal trade was buying MTN in September 2002 at R8.50 and selling it the next month at R13.50. I made enough money to pay off my car. But it was probably also one of my worst trades, as the stock surged ahead, never to see those levels again.
Apple or Samsung (or Nokia)?
Apple — not that I favour closed systems; I’m just trapped, as Steve Jobs intended.
What’s your favourite song?
I like classical and country, guys like Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson. Since I grew up in the 1980s I have the CDs of Rodriguez, Elton John, Simon & Garfunkel and Cat Stevens. But I think the greatest performance of a song ever must be Elvis Presley’s 1977 version of “Unchained Melody”, which he performed in his last appearance before his death.
On what occasions do you lie?
When a thief asks: “Is that all you’ve got?”
Your greatest extravagance?
Despite what I said about digitisation, my favourite thing is real books. When I received my first bonus the first thing I did was to go out and buy a pile of them.
Name a place you’ve been to that lived up to the hype.
I love Provence in France; it oozes romance and simplicity without compromising quality
If you could fix one thing in SA today, what would it be?
I believe the greatest motivator behind all human endeavour is hope. We seem to have shifted from being a nation of hope and potential to one of dismay, distrust and, in some instances, despair. This can be fixed by strong leadership that looks to the citizenry as a single nation and promotes a clear vision of an inclusive future.