Fairtree, a relatively young asset management firm based in Bellville, Western Cape, has outperformed the more established players in South Africa’s investment industry to win the coveted South African Manager of the Year trophy at the annual Raging Bull Awards gala dinner, held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Monday, March 11
The event recognised outstanding performance to the end of 2023 by unit trust fund managers in selecting investments for their portfolios, taking into account consistency and risk management.
A major objective of the annual awards is to guide investors to funds that deliver reliable, sustainable returns without undue risk, which is in line with the ongoing aim at Personal Finance: to provide readers with credible, jargon-free information on financial services and products to better manage their day-to-day financial affairs and grow their wealth.
The event was sponsored this year by the JSE and PSG Asset Management. ProfileData and its subsidiary, PlexCrown Fund Ratings, were the data providers.
The guest speaker at the event was Dr Pali Lehohla, former Statistician-General of South Africa and the head of Statistics South Africa from 2000 to 2017.
Manager of the Year
Manager of the Year
The Manager of the Year award is based on the risk-adjusted performance of a manager’s suite of qualifying unit trust funds, as determined by the PlexCrown Fund Ratings system, over a five-year period.
This was a first-time overall win for Fairtree, although the firm’s funds have won individual awards in the past – the Fairtree Equity Prescient Fund won the award for Best South African Equity Fund on a Risk-adjusted Basis four years in a row.
Fairtree was founded in 2006 by group chairman Andre Malan and group CEO Kobus Nel. It started as a hedge fund management company, but later introduced a range of unit trust funds to its investment offering, in association with administrator Prescient.
Speaking to Personal Finance, Nel said the award represented the culmination of consistent hard work and Fairtree’s ongoing commitment to its values and processes to ultimately deliver value to its clients.
“We have been awarded a number of Raging Bull Awards in the past, especially on the equity side, which has done very well over long periods, and our fixed-income team has also done well. However, this is the first time we have won the South African Manager of the Year award, which I believe is the culmination of many years of hard work and dedication to generating solid returns for our clients, which is what it is all about, and we are very thankful for this achievement and the recognition the award brings”.
“The significance of the award is that it is not just about how we performed last year; it is over a period of time that we have consistently performed well. We have a lot of depth in the business, very capable people, and well-defined processes. We are very clear on what we are doing and why we are doing it, and our clients have reaped the rewards of that. Values are hugely important to us – integrity, excellence, growth, real authentic relationships and family – and we have built a unique culture on our set of values,” Nel said.
The runners-up in the South African Manager of the Year race were last year’s winner, PSG Asset Management, in second place and Boutique Collective Investments in third place, each of which received a certificate.
Last year’s first runner-up, Ninety One, which took the prize in 2021 and 2022, dropped out of the top three.
The Raging Bull Award for Offshore Manager of the Year went to Orbis Investment Management, the offshore investment partner of Allan Gray, based in Bermuda, for its suite of offshore funds marketed to South Africans.
Dieketseng Maleke, content editor of Personal Finance, said: “Heartiest congratulations to Fairtree, which came in just ahead of PSG Asset Management in the PlexCrown company ratings. It’s good to see the better-known, established industry players being challenged by up-and-coming investment firms. The competition is beneficial for investors, keeping costs in check and encouraging portfolio managers to actively seek out worthwhile investment opportunities.”
Fund awards
The other major awards at the event were fund-specific: four for straight performance over three years and four for risk-adjusted performance over five years, to the end of 2023 (see list of winning funds on the opposite page). Thirty certificates in specialised categories related to the Association for Savings and Investment SA classification system were also awarded.
A stand-out among the awards for individual funds was the Investec BCI Dynamic Equity Fund, which won best domestic general equity fund for both straight and risk-adjusted performance.