subscribe Support our award-winning journalism. The Premium package (digital only) is R30 for the first month and thereafter you pay R129 p/m now ad-free for all subscribers.
Subscribe now
Renier Kriek of Sentinel Homes. Picture: Supplied
Renier Kriek of Sentinel Homes. Picture: Supplied

What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?

Do deals that are to the benefit of the parties involved. If you do subtractive business, or snatch at bargains, your reputation will catch up with you, even if your conscience does not. If you have a reputation for doing good business, the opportunities will come to you.

What was your first job?

I was a waiter in a restaurant in Hermanus during the university holidays. But my career started with a position as a candidate attorney for a medium-sized firm in Cape Town. It was a calculated choice and probably one of the best I have made; I got the most wide-ranging experience imaginable, and it’s paying dividends to this day, even though I never practised law.

How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?

A candidate attorney’s salary of R6,750, which was just slightly above the tax threshold at the time. I was totally self-supporting at that point and had to pay high Cape Town rent in addition to petrol and the very high car insurance premiums young drivers are charged. Also, food and all the other necessities.

What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?

Have a plan for your career but remain flexible. When I was studying philosophy in my BA, I would not have believed a time traveller who told me that I would one day start and run a finance company.

What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?

I write (likely indefinitely unpublished) Afrikaans poetry as a creative outlet.

What’s the worst investment mistake you’ve made?

I once bought a portfolio of small- and medium-cap shares on the JSE based on a well-known analyst’s predictions (which had made money in each of the previous annual instalments). It made me realise that trading individual shares should be left to the experts. Just like having lived in a home all your life does not qualify you to be a property investor, and eating three meals a day does not qualify you to operate a restaurant.

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

Buying a block of flats for nearly half its value. The seller made a tidy profit despite selling to me at far below market value. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing and near impossible to replicate through hunting for similar opportunities. The opportunity came to me after years of ploughing the fields through building networks and doing good business, but it may well not have, and a similarly profitable opportunity may never arrive.

What phrase or bit of jargon irks you most?

I hate most corporate speak and the associated affectation. When it comes to the world of ideas, I find that clarity and simplicity are the marks of true sophistication. “Au fait” is probably the one that grinds my nerves the most.

What is something you would go back and tell your younger self that would impress them?

“You will get it funded eventually, but the discipline of fighting for the funding is saving you from certain ruin.” South Africa is not an economy in which loan or share capital is easy to get. But eking out the resources required to implement your business idea has a forming effect on the idea that is more valuable than any consultant’s services — in addition to being mostly free.

If you were President Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?

I do not think there is one thing that can constructively contribute to righting our country’s direction after 30 years of being blown around by the gales of corruption and mismanagement. Perhaps he can press a button that splits the ruling alliance into two or three equally supported splinter parties. Our collective salvation lies in the direction of electoral accountability, and coalition politics, though messy and unpredictable, is likely the path to it.

subscribe Support our award-winning journalism. The Premium package (digital only) is R30 for the first month and thereafter you pay R129 p/m now ad-free for all subscribers.
Subscribe now

Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.