We analyse Adrian Saville, chief strategist of Citadel and professor at the Gordon Institute of Business Science.
If someone came to you tomorrow with R100m to invest in just one company, which would it be?
I would invest in a business that contributes to socioeconomic prosperity and that thrives by doing good, one I understand well and in which the people running it have my respect. A business that ticks all these boxes is Quali Health, which is involved in the primary health-care industry.
Which talent would you most like to possess?
I would like to manage time more effectively.
What was your first job?
The first one with a degree of sustainability was my first business. In my first year at university, I ran a mobile disco. Not only did this mean I could profit from my love of music, but it enabled me to pay the varsity bills. At the end, I sold my equipment and got my original investment back — and I still have all the vinyl!
What’s your biggest regret?
I have several. They include financial regrets — for example, buying as many Aspen shares as I could afford at R1, and then selling them all at R3 thinking I had done spectacularly well. I also regret confusing busy-ness with effectiveness — sadly, I continue to do this, though less nowadays. A final regret is not having taken an extra week of holiday with my family as often as possible.
What is the worst investment mistake you have made?
Confusing consumption spending with an investment. I took my modest (mobile disco) savings and the trade-in value of a car that had been paid off to finance a Golf GTi, which, while not extravagant, was beyond my needs. If you look back over 30-something years at the amount of money that goes into a vehicle, and then consider the opportunity cost, I think you’d be surprised at just how big the figures become. If I had instead invested in the all share index and, more recently, in my SuperDogs portfolio, my investment would be worth 12 brand new Golf GTis today.
What’s the best investment you’ve ever made?
Investing in my education — not just formal education, but reading, studying history, travelling, spending time with people and so on. This represents an investment of time, not necessarily of money.
If you found a lottery ticket tomorrow that had won US$100m, what would you do?
First, I would put aside enough money to spend time with my family in a different destination every year. Second, I would put aside sufficient funds for my children’s education. Third, I would look to helping the many people I have encountered whose quality of life could be altered immeasurably with some money. Finally, I would put the balance into businesses with exponential potential to advance society and the economy — ones that are inclusive and that change business and social structure.
What’s your favourite song?
That’s easy: Depeche Mode’s "Somebody".
On what occasions do you lie?
To spare someone something that is worse than the lie.
Your greatest extravagance?
Books and music concerts. I can’t resist either.
Name a place you’ve been to that lived up to the hype.
This would have to be Kigali. Rwanda is described as potentially the Switzerland of Africa, and I believe it’s true. Kigali is impressive, efficient, clean, functional and vibrant.
If you could fix one thing in SA today, what would it be?
It would be to create social cohesion and a sense of common purpose and collective goodwill.