BACKSTORY: Gyongyi King
We question Gyongyi King, chief investment officer at Alexander Forbes
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
From an investments perspective, make sure you do your homework, and trust your instincts. Lessons learnt over the years really do support the saying: "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is."
What was your first job?
I started my career at a small asset manager as a dividend clerk. I manually checked that daily dividends due were received and banked — something a computer now does automatically.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
To be honest, I can’t remember. However, I did buy my mom flowers to thank her for all her support, particularly in my education.
What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
There will be times when the markets test you. Those moments are when you need to stick to your process and philosophy.
If you could fix only one thing in SA, what would it be?
I would fix infrastructure; it’s a critical area for future growth and prosperity.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
My father is Hungarian, and that’s where my name comes from.
What’s the worst investment mistake you’ve made?
It’s not a mistake, but a regret — not investing in Google at its IPO.
What is the hardest life lesson you’ve learnt?
The past year has probably given me my hardest life lesson — the understanding that planning can only do so much, and sometimes in life things are completely out of your control.
Was there ever a point at which you wanted to trade it all in for a different career? And if so, what would that career be?
I can truthfully say I never wanted to change. I love being in investments.
What’s the best investment you’ve ever made? And how much of it was due to luck?
My career has always been in multimanagement. In the mid-2000s I invested in a small, unknown hedge fund in the US. The manager was getting more and more concerned about the mortgage market in the US. As we now know, in 2008 the mortgage market collapsed. This particular investment did very well when most were underwater. They say you get luckier the more you practise. At that point I had spent many years selecting asset managers. This particular manager had a detailed and unique perspective on what was then a fairly uncovered area of the market. These characteristics mean opportunity.
If you were President Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
I would focus on education for women to empower them to secure a good future for themselves.
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