Magda Wierzycka startles SA with Sygnia decision

RYK VAN NIEKERK: Magda Wierzycka is likely one of the most distinguished businesswomen within the nation. She introduced immediately that she is resigning because the CEO of Sygnia Asset Administration, the corporate she co-founded 15 years in the past in 2006. Underneath her management, Sygnia’s belongings underneath administration grew from R2 billion to greater than R250 billion, and within the course of she disrupted the asset-management trade with a spread of modern low-cost passive funding merchandise. Magda will stay on the Sygnia board as a non-executive director.

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Magda is now on the road. Magda, thanks a lot for becoming a member of me. Many individuals have been fairly stunned by your determination. Why did you resolve to resign?
MAGNA WIERZYCSKA: Ryk, I’m stunned that individuals are stunned. I’ve been an entrepreneur my total life, beginning with Coronation, which I joined when the corporate had 14 individuals. Then I began a hedge funds firm. I moved on to the function of being CEO of African Harvest, after which I began Sygnia.
In some ways I look again at my profession and I believe that I’ve held down the identical job for 25 years. About 5 years in the past I learn an article within the Harvard Enterprise Evaluation which stated that one of many biggest impediments to development of a family-founded enterprise is the truth that the founders stick on for too lengthy, approach past their ability set.
Sygnia has now turn out to be a big firm which requires skilled government administration. During the last 5 years I’ve introduced in the appropriate individuals, I’ve mentored them, and now I’ve enabled them to steer the corporate going ahead. Whereas, as a lot as I’ve stepped down because the CEO – I hate the phrase resigned, such an unsightly phrase – I stay very actively concerned within the areas of the enterprise I’m keen about: strategic course of the corporate, product innovation, and Sygnia Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is my brainchild and my child, and I’ve large plans for it offshore. Additionally model advertising; I’ll at all times stay a Sygnia model marketer.
However I’ve let go of all of the issues that I’m not good at – operational administration of a big firm. And I believe most significantly I’ve completely no intention of promoting any of my shares as a result of in Sygnia I stay the bulk shareholder, since I believe Sygnia’s journey has solely simply begun.
RYK VAN NIEKERK: What are you going to do now?
MAGNA WIERZYCSKA: Nicely, other than the truth that that I stay concerned in Sygnia technique, in in search of alternatives for Sygnia, I’ve additionally arrange a venture-capital enterprise within the UK up to now two years known as Bravos, which invests in an organization known as Oxford Science Improvements, which commercialises all of the IP that comes out of Oxford College. So I’m very concerned in enterprise capital. And with that and nearly two years of publicity to venture-capital investing I’m probably going to deliver venture-capital investing to South Africa, as a result of we so badly want job creation. Job creation will solely come from small and medium-sized enterprises that are arrange by entrepreneurs.
We’ve so little enterprise capital in South Africa. So one in all my goals is to arrange a venture-capital fund the place I can each present capital and mentor potential entrepreneurs. That’s one undertaking. Clearly I stay concerned within the venture-capital enterprise offshore, which is taking over quite a lot of my time.
Aside from that, I need to take a bit little bit of a – sabbatical is the incorrect phrase in my context, as a result of I don’t suppose I’ve taken a day’s depart within the final 25 years, by no means thoughts a sabbatical – however I do need to spend a little bit of time in New York simply to have a look at what’s occurring on the planet. While you have a look at these ginormous megatrends which can be occurring, the shifts away in the direction of photo voltaic vitality, in the direction of electrical automobiles, in the direction of new therapeutic therapies which depend on genomics. There’s a lot stuff occurring abroad that we don’t have publicity to in South Africa, not solely as individuals, however as traders. So I’m hoping to analysis that in much more element and produce a few of these concepts again to South Africa and produce again a few of these concepts to Sygnia.
RYK VAN NIEKERK: It looks like you’ll need to be an entrepreneur once more, not a supervisor.
MAGNA WIERZYCSKA: Precisely. I’m an entrepreneur. I arrange companies, I’m keen about that. And I believe at this age in my life, with out sharing my age – I suppose individuals can Google it – I additionally need to switch a few of these expertise that I’ve acquired to different individuals, to children on the market who’ve the goals and who’ve the imaginative and prescient, however couldn’t essentially have the talents to commercialise their concepts. However you may’t drag me right into a risk-management assembly or right into a three-hour assembly about administration. I’m simply not that individual.
RYK VAN NIEKERK: No. I do know HR conferences. However you aren’t solely a great entrepreneur, you’re additionally identified in South Africa as one of many very, only a few CEOs who has stood up publicly in opposition to corruption and mismanagement, each within the non-public sector and the general public sector, and also you’ve been fairly aggressive in your criticism. You’ve in all probability been essentially the most aggressive in taking over injustice in South Africa. You’ve even funded among the lawsuits out of your individual pocket in opposition to some public figures. I do know that’s in all probability not the way you see your self, however we want voices like that. I don’t need to ask you whether or not you’re going to proceed with it –
RYK VAN NIEKERK: – however it’s one thing we want, and hopefully another CEOs can comply with go well with.
MAGNA WIERZYCSKA: Ryk, I hope that the platform I’ve constructed – by being vocal about corruption, about state seize, about non-participation of the enterprise sector in taking over that corruption – has constructed adequate model round me as an individual, Magda Wierzycka fairly than Sygnia, and that I’ve a platform to proceed being that loud voice in opposition to corruption, and that that voice doesn’t rely upon me being a CEO of Sygnia. That voice is a private voice. Typically a few of our shoppers at Sygnia have been uncomfortable with the truth that I used to be so vocal within the public area. Nicely, now they will’t criticise me any extra for being vocal.
So I intend to stay as engaged and as lively as you’ve gotten seen me during the last nonetheless a few years as a result of, as an individual, I stand for what’s proper and I’ll at all times communicate up, and I’ll at all times be out there to talk up.
RYK VAN NIEKERK: The conspiracy theorists had a area day immediately on numerous social media platforms. I’m simply going to focus on a number of issues that are myths. One is that you’re leaving as a result of political strain. The second idea was that you simply need to depart South Africa. And the third one was that you simply actually need to write a e book.
MAGNA WIERZYCSKA: I like that. I believe I like the third one. So political strain – I don’t know the place political strain might come from. Completely not. I don’t have quite a lot of curiosity in politics past the best way that it shapes individuals’s lives and the best way it shapes the financial system. I’ll at all times be supportive of individuals in politics who’re making an attempt to do the appropriate issues and demanding of those that will not be.
The second – leaving South Africa – once more, completely not. South Africa has handed some very foolish tax legal guidelines that I hope at some stage they will withdraw, which principally make individuals who spend [time in] a number of jurisdictions by way of the place they earn their earnings; they’re restricted to a spending six months in South Africa earlier than being double-taxed in South Africa. In order that’s one factor I’m very important of as a result of it’s a really foolish regulation which principally forces somebody like me, who does have enterprise pursuits offshore in addition to in South Africa, to be restricted to spending six months a 12 months in South Africa earlier than I get double-taxed. However I do intend to spend my full allotment of six months in South Africa.
As for the remainder of the time, a few of it’s spent within the UK working the venture-capital enterprise that I based there, or co-founded, in London. And the steadiness of the time I need to journey internationally, journey to the US, journey to China, decide up concepts. That’s the way you generate innovation. Then I can deliver that innovation again to South Africa.
So no, I’m not leaving South Africa – for those who suppose I’m. And by the way, the opposite factor I’ve heard is repeatedly that I’m divorced. Only for these individuals who nonetheless imagine that, I’ve simply celebrated my twenty fourth wedding ceremony anniversary, very fortunately married, sorry, with out getting divorced.
And I’m not but prepared for a e book. I believe I nonetheless have many extra chapters to go.
RYK VAN NIEKERK: You’ve written a number of. You’ve acquired a really fascinating story to inform.
MAGNA WIERZYCSKA: I believe I do, however I at all times suppose that on daily basis is a brand new chapter. And so I’ve been requested to jot down a e book, I’ve been approached numerous occasions by individuals who would ghost-write a e book, and each single time I believe my story shouldn’t be completed but. I contract a e book now, as a result of what am I going to do? Write a second e book later? Possibly I could be persuaded.
RYK VAN NIEKERK: Not many individuals can write two biographies, however possibly you could be one of many first within the asset-management trade in South Africa to take action. Magna, thanks a lot on your time immediately and actually good luck in your new ventures.
MAGNA WIERZYCSKA: Thanks very a lot, Ryk.
RYK VAN NIEKERK: That was Magda Wierzycka.

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