BACKSTORY: Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr’s Brent Williams
Financial Mail questions Brent Williams, Chief Executive Officer of Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr
What is the one investment you wish you had made, or made earlier?
Buying Naspers shares.
What was your first job?
The first job that really had a profound effect on my life was my time as a cashier at Woolworths. This is where I learnt what it is like to work for a great retail company, what customer service means and how to take care of your staff.
What are you reading at the moment? What’s the one book everyone should read before they die?
My Own Liberator, by former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke. The book everyone should read before they die is Capital in the Twenty-First Century, by Thomas Piketty.
Nominate your eighth wonder of the world.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
I love cooking — my signature dish is chicken curry.
Which phrase or word do you most overuse?
What is your biggest indulgence?
It has to be my obsession with the Alfa Romeo marque.
Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
Neo, from The Matrix.
What’s your top tip for doing a deal?
Always ask what the client wants.
Is there such a thing as "enough money" and, if so, how much is it?
Yes, there absolutely is. It is very subjective and depends crucially on whether one is measuring wealth or income against those who have the least or relative to those who have the most.
What’s the worst airport you’ve been in?
Ibn Battouta International Airport — formerly known as Tangier-Boukhalef — in Tangier, Morocco. It was an adventure getting to Tangier, but the adventure stopped when the raggedy old plane (nonpressurised cabin) took off. There were only three of us on board and they still lost our luggage.
What is your biggest regret?
That I didn’t follow my interest and become an engineer.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My wife. We were high-school sweethearts and we’ve been together for almost 38 years (29 of them married).
Tell us about a hidden gem in SA that not many people know about.
Water’s Edge Beach in Simon’s Town.