Craig Sher. PICTURE: SUPPLED
Craig Sher. PICTURE: SUPPLED

What’s the wisest thing you could tell your 20-year-old self that you didn’t know when you started out?

Take the time to understand the financial stuff that nobody else really wants to spend time on. An example of this would be that if at the outset of your career you spend a few hours working out how to set up your tax affairs and budget. The cumulative financial impact of those few hours over many years will often dwarf many other financial decisions you will ever make.

Besides this, I’d say the wisest piece of advice I would have told myself is: "Listen to your wife — she is always right." I’ve learnt that the cumulative impact of this is even more dramatic on one’s life.

SA or offshore?

Both, but a large holding offshore. Almost everything we buy is affected in some way by the global economy. We estimate that up to 64% of household expenditure is affected by currency movements, so a portfolio needs to cater for this.

Would you buy or rent your primary home?

I would never consider a primary home an investment, as you will always need a place to live. I have purchased my primary home but would evaluate the decision again in the future if I were to move.

If you could fix one thing in SA today, what would it be?

Attitudes. When it comes to sport, we are proudly South African (even those who have emigrated). Yet as far as anything else is concerned, we have few positive things to say about our home. We encounter people rigorously quoting statistics about how bad it is here. Yet if you show them that those same statistics indicate a country that is actually improving, their cognitive bias kicks in and instead of being intellectually honest, they revert to challenging the validity of those same statistics. Research shows that problems are solved when people are optimistic. This is what we need.

Tell us something people wouldn’t know about you.

Every morning before work, I study something non-actuarial that I find interesting. Some topics I have covered include philosophy and psychology.

What’s the best investment you’ve ever made?

When my children were born I started investing money for them, and I topped it up each year. Due to the power of compound interest, every R1 saved for children in their first three years of life is worth 25-55 times more than if they begin saving as an adult.

What is your greatest extravagance?

A large set of historical books written in an ancient biblical language.

How much of a portfolio should there be for the wildcard picks?

None. A portfolio should be made up of an asset manager’s best views. Clients tend to undervalue the upside that wildcard picks could bring, against the downside risk.

Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?

I’d actually much rather have a call on the phone or, better yet, communicate face to face. #justpickupthephone