BACKSTORY: FNB’s Lytania Johnson
The FM speaks to Lytania Johnson, chief risk officer for retail and commercial at FNB
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Do sufficient analysis to understand the key drivers affecting the deal and then consider whether the expected outcomes can reasonably be delivered.
What was your first job?
My first job was working as a casual at Jet Stores in grade 11 over weekends and school holidays.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
I honestly can’t remember the actual amount, but I do fondly remember that it was enough in the context of a 17-year-old. I gave a portion of it to my mom towards my boarding, as we were taught this principle very early on, and used the rest to buy my first CD player.
What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
That it is important to not only budget for daily living expenses but also to incorporate savings into your budget and create a “rainy day” kitty. Saving for retirement when you start working is probably one of the most important lessons I have learnt.
If you could fix only one thing in SA, what would it be?
We live in an amazing country but we sadly have a deep systemic cultural issue of not respecting rules. This would be something I’d love to change because I truly believe that with a better societal culture, ethical conduct and mutual respect, there can be a better outcome for all.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
I was supposed to study to become a doctor and had a bursary to do so but changed my mind because of my fear of working with blood.
What’s the worst investment mistake you’ve made?
Investing in a business venture where the margins were very thin and where, at the time, I didn’t truly appreciate the impact a pandemic could have on certain industries.
What’s the best investment you’ve ever made? And how much of it was due to luck?
Diversifying my investment portfolio. While through the initial phases of Covid the portfolio suffered losses, my decision to stay in it for the long run has paid off. Play the long game and the rewards should come.
What’s the hardest life lesson you’ve learnt?
That your health and family are your most important assets and should be where you spend a significant investment of your time and effort. Sometimes we realise this too late.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Self-righteousness. This plays out way too often around corporate tables.
What is something you would go back and tell your younger self that would impress them?
The world is not binary and the ticket to true happiness and joy is found in more than just material things that you thought mattered.
If you were President Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
I would prioritise dealing with corruption and service delivery as I believe that will assist in regaining the support and belief that South Africans once had in our government.
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