… As new player sits pretty on billions in assets
Having been unveiled on the Namibian landscape on 5 July, asset management firm Ashburton Investments, by virtue of its positioning under FNB Namibia, has N$3.06 billion assets under advice and N$8.37 billion in assets under management.
Confidente’s Hilary Mare (HM) recently sat down for an exclusive interview with Ashburton Investments Namibia Chief Executive Officer, Josephat Mwatotele (JM), who is now also a member of the FNB Namibia executive committee.
HM: How does it feel at the helm of Ashburton Investments, as it begins its journey?
JM: It is a privilege to be entrusted to lead the team and the Ashburton business in Namibia. I am both grateful for the opportunity and the confidence that my team and FNB Holdings has placed in me, through this appointment.
HM: Briefly share what Ashburton Investments is and how it came about.
JM: Ashburton Investments is the latest addition to the Namibian investment landscape. It is a new generation asset manager, whose philosophy is to provide clients with access to more savings and investment products, as well customised investment solutions, meeting local client requirements. Effectively, the Ashburton business in Namibia is a consolidation of the previous Pointbreak investment management business, with three core focus – alternative asset management (private equity, private property and property unit trusts), traditional asset management (with money market unit trusts being the main offering) and wealth management. The creation of Ashburton follows the acquisition of the Pointbreak business by FNB Holdings earlier this year.
HM: In essence, what is Ashburton seeking to achieve in the Namibian market?
JM: Ashburton Investments is the FirstRand Group’s investment management business. Ashburton Namibia therefore now forms part of the larger Ashburton Investments family, which gives the local entity the ability to leverage investment thinking and capability across the FirstRand Group, to provide investors with access to more sources of return, broader investment capabilities and greater risk management. Our vision as a group (Ashburton) globally, as in Namibia, is to create more savers and help our clients access more savings and investment products, in the most efficient manner. We seek to provide local investors access to more investment options, with a focus on alternative investment products. Ashburton is an internationally well-established brand and will add considerable value to the group’s asset management capabilities, in terms of an international network and product offerings to the Namibian market.
HM: What do you consider to be the challenges of your new role?
JM: We are mindful that we are entering a competitive landscape, with many well-established players and existing relationships. This is always among the key challenges of being a new market entrant. Our new approach and focus on alternative assets is, however, a key differentiator, and can provide our business with a strong competitive advantage. With this focus on alternative assets, Ashburton hopefully can complement the existing offering in the local market, by providing access to more investment options.
HM: Please give an overview of how this transition from Pointbreak aligns well with the desire to manage a greater segment of the market.
JM: Through the larger group’s footprint, we now sit with an extensive distribution network, which means we are able to offer our products to a larger client base, across many segments. We now think of our clients in group context, and this gives us an opportunity to segment our clients in a way that allows us to offer them the right financial products, based on their unique requirements.
HM: How will Ashburton International assist in growing this brand? Will you pay royalties or franchise fees?
JM: The local Ashburton team is ultimately responsible for driving business and growing the brand locally. However, being part of a global brand means that we can leverage off group resources, and that we have access to capabilities within the larger group. Ashburton Investments in Namibia will be operated as 100 percent owned subsidiary of the FNB Namibia Holdings, alongside group brands like FNB, Wesbank and RMB. Specifically, in our case, we have now added research insights, access to more products in different offshore jurisdictions and well-experienced teams. The nature of the business dictates that there are always internal management fee arrangements, which should make sense for all the parties.
HM: Do you think the market has a place for Ashburton, and that the brand will thrive fully?
JM: As mentioned, we are a new generation asset manager, whose focus is on providing access to more alternative investment products to complement the existing offerings in the local market. Considering the proposed regulatory changes in domestic asset requirements, we see an opportunity and an increased need for bringing more and new products to the market, to absorb the additional capital that will flow into local assets.
HM: Please share more insights, with regard to the independence of this brand from the other FNB portfolios.
JM: The fact that the brand is a standalone from other key FNB Holdings brands, with its own governance and operational structures, speaks volumes about the independence of the brand, from operating perspective. Our focus is not only on providing asset management services to the group, but there is equal focus on third party local clients.
HM: As an individual with his own vision, can we look forward to some new market innovations? What could these be?
JM: Yes, the market can look forward to the introduction of new product innovation, in line with the group philosophy of creating more savers, by offering access to more investment options to clients. We have always followed a team approach, and most of the initiatives are conceived through our collective input. I do, however, remain ultimately responsible for ensuring that we execute on all our mandates.
HM: How does it feel to be part of the FNB Namibia executive committee, and what further aspirations do your harbour?
JM: I see my role very much as part of a bigger team, where I am entrusted with a set of responsibilities, in fulfilment of the group’s overall vision. It comes with the role of chief executive of Ashburton. Being part of the FNB Holdings exco provides me with good opportunity to understand the group’s business and gain a group-wide perspective on how Ashburton fits into the overall picture, in terms of the vision of the group, and our expected contribution.
Personally and professionally, it is a great experience, albeit, starting out on a steep learning curve. For now, my focus is establishing the Ashburton brand in the local market and driving the growth of the business, through new product innovations.
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