Lebo Thubisi and Senzo Langa have been appointed as Deputy Chief Investment Officers (CIOs) at Alexforbes Investments (AFI)
Alexforbes recently announced the appointment of two Deputy Chief Investment Officers (CIOs) within its investments division, both appointments being made from within the organisation. Recognising their talent and contribution, Lebo Thubisi and Senzo Langa are the people identified to look after alternative and traditional assets, respectively, both reporting directly to the Alexforbes Chief Investment Officer, Gyongyi King.
Thubisi and Langa have a 12-year track record within the investments business in senior roles, heading up the Manager Research and Portfolio Management divisions, respectively. Thubisi holds a Bachelor of Business Science, Finance and Economics (Hons) from the University of Cape Town, and a General Management Programme (GMAP) Business Administration and Management from the Gordon Institute of Business Science. Langa holds a Master’s in Finance from the University of the Witwaterstrand and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).
Langa began his career as an Investments Assistant manager at Rand Merchant Bank. He later joined Alexforbes as an Investment Analyst, providing the required research and information to help fund managers and brokers make impactful decisions about their clients’ investments. “The objective is to ensure our clients investment portfolios are well managed and that potential investment opportunities are identified,” says Langa. He then worked his way to the role of Head of Portfolio Management at Alexforbes Investments (AFI), looking after portfolio management solutions holistically.
Thubisi has an incredible 15 years of financial services experience. After he left varsity he had a natural interest in Investment Banking, but through a Grad programme found himself in the asset management division at JP Morgan doing an administrative role. He then worked for a hedgefunds business. This proved to be the very foundation he required to gain exposure and experience with global markets, hedgefunds, and alternative assets. Prior to this appointment, he has served as the Head Manager of Research at AFI, which saw him lead an incredible team of six researchers across traditional and alternative asset classes. Thubisi’s role has been, in essence, focused on private markets by assisting and qualifying private market strategies to access capital and assisting clients with alternative investment options.
Why the appointment of two Deputy CIOs?
The power of appointing two Deputy CIOs is that it helps create a balance from a quantitative and qualitative perspective, as well as forming a key focus on the different areas of the business. As mentioned above, Thubisi will look after alternative asset investments and Langa to focus on traditional assets for their clients. Both have served in the organisation for a number of years and began their journey months apart.
The team expressed how the core values of respect and harmony are critical, and this needs to be reflected in the spaces they operate in as Deputy CIOs. They have both worked extensively with King, who is currently the Chief Investment Officer of Alexforbes Investments. The appointment of both Langa and Thubisi will create a stable foundation within the investments team and equally a support base for the CIO.
“We are on an exciting journey to build a future that delivers growth, inclusivity, and sustainability. These enhancements place us in a powerful position to amplify our impact on people’s lives and to meet the high expectations that clients place on us to do so. We are positive that with these changes we will continue to remain the leading multi-manager and solutions investments team in the industry,” comments King.
The team expressed a healthy respect for each other and working well together over the past 12 years. The frequent banter between the two also suggested a sense of comradery and challenge, much like iron sharpening iron.
Alternative vs traditional asset classes
The debate around where people should invest their capital is an ongoing but relevant conversation amongst South Africans. Given much uncertainty and volatility within the economy and current low return environment, South Africans have become concerned about retirement investments and with real returns being under pressure, the conversation tends to be a discussion around traditional vs alternative asset classes.
The team commented that it is imperative as Alexforbes Investments that they ensure they assist their clients in creating balanced portfolios through diversification and diversity of investments, as this lessens the risk that a client takes. What makes sense with the current global investment market is a shift towards the allocation of capital across various asset classes, or a differentiated investment strategy. According to the investment fund analyst Citywire, the Alexforbes Investments Performer Fund remains one of the most dominant multi-management portfolios in the country, with a recorded ending of R202 billion in AUM at the end of February 2023. The fund is a multi-asset portfolio and good example of a strategy designed to achieving diversification.
Is South Africa still a viable and competitive place for both local and global investors?
The harsh reality about the current state of affairs in the country is that there is a lot of uncertainty across the board, with people looking to other markets or alternatives to investing their finances.
“As much as there is a lot of uncertainty and volatility in the economy at the moment, there is a trend where people are trying to time markets to anticipate what might happen. However, data suggests that one should stay invested,” says Thubisi. The two assert that it’s advisable to leave it to the experts, people who are passionate about investments and the success of their clients. “Challenge us with your investments, but let us help you define your investments journey as the experts.”
With the above statement in mind, the team believe that South Africa is still very much a viable country to keep and grow clients’ investments in. An investments climate report by the US Department of State (2022) indicated that despite the structural challenges in the country, it remains a destination conducive for global investment as a comparatively low-risk environment in Africa, as well as one of the fastest growing consumer markets in the world.
The South African outlook: It is not all doom and gloom
Despite how things are at the moment, both from a local and global perspective, it really isn’t just all doom and gloom. If anything, South Africa is a resilient country. However, there is the opportunity for the private sector to form global partnerships that may assist in overcoming challenges or limitations caused by the energy crisis or other factors.
Langa and Thubisi explain how Alexforbes has global partnerships with companies such as Mercer that add value to work that needs to be done with regards to manager research. Sustainability of all industries is crucial and implementing these strategies will help to realise capital and investment still flowing into the country. “If we do not invest in ourselves, we won’t grow,” adds Langa.
On the topic of energy, the government and private sector have also made efforts in supplying affordable solar PV systems to both residential and commercial properties where the government has proposed a solar panel tax incentive programme to encourage households to invest in clean electricity generation capacity which can supplement electricity supply. This highlights that it is possible to get things running once again, but the country and its people need to invest in solutions.
Despite the country’s energy crisis, South Africa’s assets still present opportunities for investors because industries have learnt over the years to operate in a low-moderate growth environment. Also, there are solid investment opportunities in South Africa as well as many attractive assets for investors such as a diverse demography, a productive and advanced economy, and one of the biggest assets being the abundance of natural resources, coupled with certain political stability. This landscape becomes fertile ground for the country to create opportunities to improve on its Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
Alexforbes spearheading transformation
This duo absolutely believes in the power of transformation and hope to see more females joining the Investments team as diverse representation and opinions are critical to moving the organisation forward.
According to FA News, the Alexforbes Transformation Policy has outlined transformative criteria for supporting and selecting talent with an emphasis on gender diversity, to ensure more black females are included in critical strategic and investment decision roles. The policy also speaks to the importance of skills transfer, succession planning, as well as racial, gender, and even cognitive diversity as non-negotiables within the business environment. “Having said this, it is also our responsibility to support and nurture upcoming talent in implementing the transformation policy ideals and extending the knowledge and experience beyond ourselves,” adds Thubisi.
It’s all about the clients
“As inspiring and imperative it is to focus on growing and nurturing the talent pool and what the business has to offer, it’s just as important to give special focus on our clients and their needs.” One thing that both Langa and Thubisi both agreed on without question is the role that their clients play in the success of the business and even themselves as they take up these new roles. “We manage money on behalf of our clients, and if not for them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do, so thank you to our clients for trusting us with your livelihoods, we take your investments seriously.”
The team also expressed their appreciation for the opportunity and responsibility given to them by management, and this is a task that they will tackle head on with vigour and absolute dedication to ensuring the success of their clients.
Amongst other goals for the division, below are the four key pillars both Langa and Thubisi have identified as crucial to their roles:
Helping to grow the Alexforbes footprint in the retail business.
Continue with building the organisations footprint within the traditional investment environment (such as listed markets)
Strengthen the organisations presence with respect to alternative asset classes.
Continuing to lead and providing invaluable advice to clients in the advocacy of responsible investing practices in South Africa.
Statement by CEO of Alexforbes Investments
“We believe the appointment of Senzo and Lebo will help us continue delivering compelling investment solutions to our clients, and better support the ambitions set out by Alexforbes. This includes building on our capability set in the traditional investment space, reinforcing our presence in alternative asset classes, growing to one of the largest retail businesses in South Africa, and continuing to lead in the adoption of responsible investing principles,” comments Ann Leepile, the CEO of Alexforbes Investments.