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What To Consider When Investing Your (Hard-Earned) Money

A debate regarding active versus passive investing can quickly become heated, but the issue is far more nuanced than it might seem at first. It’s not as simple as choosing one over the other. Successful portfolios are balanced.

Sasfin

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Vital Stats

  • Player: Michael Sassoon
  • Company: Sasfin
  • Position: Head of Wealth and Capital, Executive Director
  • Visit: www.sasfin.com

It isn’t hard to see the attraction of a passive investment strategy: Set it, forget it, and save a ton of money on fees. But it’s not as simple as that. Sure, passive investing has its upsides, but it’s not quite the can’t-lose strategy it’s sometimes made out to be. There are still risks. And there are still fees.

Most importantly, though, it can oversimplify the process of wealth management, ignoring the needs, wants and personality of the person involved.

michael-sassoon

Michael Sassoon

“A person’s relationship with his or her money is a very personal thing,” says Sasfin Head of Wealth and Capital, Michael Sassoon.

“Successfully managing someone’s investments means understanding what their overall financial situation is, and what their investment goals are.

Related: Raising Capital In A Worsening Macro-Economic Environment

“You’re often acting like a psychologist, encouraging them to spend less and save more. It’s also about helping people to manage risk and finding a solution that suits their risk appetite by appropriately blending different asset classes.”

Active and passive

Sasfin believes in a bespoke approach that suits the individual. So, does that mean that the company is against passive management? Surprisingly, the answer is no. According to Michael, a good argument can be made for blending the two.

“Passive investment can be useful as part of a comprehensive investment strategy, particularly if you’re trying to get some exposure to the market, but it is merely one tool in the toolbox. Any passive investment has to be looked at within the context of broader portfolio management decision-making.

“Fund managers at Sasfin can combine active and passive investments to manage a balanced portfolio for asset allocation and single-asset classes. ETFs (exchanged-traded funds) can be a cost-effective way to get exposure to specific asset classes and their respective traits or styles i.e aggressive, or conservative,” says Michael.

“So, it’s not as simple as choosing between active and passive. The whole landscape has evolved to a point where passive investing can be quite hard to define. Passive investing comes at a cost that needs to be evaluated, and all forms of passive investment require a component of active management initially, and at somewhat regular intervals thereafter.”

Fees must fall

fees-must-fall

In fact, the issue isn’t really about active versus passive. The issue is fees. “The big problem a lot of people have with active funds are the fees involved, and that is where some sort of change needs to take place.

Related: How Do I Go About Valuing My Business?

“The industry has a lot of layers — lots of brokers, advisors, and so on. There are a lot of mouths to feed, which is why active management can be expensive. But it needn’t be. Active management can be offered in a more cost-effective way by appointing a portfolio manager to construct a direct share portfolio — thereby getting rid of some of the layers and complexities.”

How can this be done, though? How can you make active investment more affordable? The answer is simple: Technology.

Rise of the robo-advisor

One would expect a company like Sasfin to bemoan the recent rise of automated investment and robo-advisors. Instead, though, the company has invested in a Silicon Valley-based start-up that is in the business of creating robo-advisors.

“Our industry is ripe for disruption,” says Michael. “Changes are definitely coming. But we don’t view it as a bad thing. We actually believe that it can help us in making active management more accessible to more people. We believe there’s tremendous value in sitting across a table from a client and helping him or her map out their financial future, and technology can help us reach more people.

“There are elements of the process, regardless of whether you’re looking at active or passive, that can be digitised. Technology can help us streamline and simplify active asset management, and that’ll make it more accessible,” says Michael.

“It’s not about active or passive — it’s about a comprehensive strategy that works for you.”

Related: Raising Capital Through A Black Economic Empowerment Transaction

Take note

Sound investment isn’t as simple as choosing between active and passive. Any investment should be looked at within the context of a larger portfolio.

Sasfin Corporate Finance focuses on providing innovative commercial and banking solutions to our clients. As an accredited sponsor and designated advisor with the JSE, we offer our sponsor and designated advisor clients independent advice on a full range of corporate finance transactions including advice relating to continuing obligations in terms of the JSE Listings Requirements. Sasfin Capital is a division of Sasfin Bank Limited, a subsidiary of Sasfin Holdings which listed on the JSE in 1987

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Customers Are The Heart Of Innovative Businesses

Keep your customer at the heart of your business.

Viga Interactive

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One of the main reasons start-ups fail is because they don’t create solutions that meet their customers’ needs. Failure is avoidable. Businesses that understand their customers feelings, challenges, expectations and motivations make themselves indispensable in highly competitive markets because they recognise that true innovation is led by customer insight.

An incredible example of a business that believes in innovation driven by insight is Netflix. They revolutionised the way people watch video content by listening to their customer’s needs. You’ve probably heard the story before: after paying a $40 overdue DVD fee, Reed Hastings co-founded Netflix. He was simply too busy to return his DVD. He recognised that this experience wasn’t exclusive to him, but that it was a problem that many people faced. He saw a gap in the market for receiving and returning videos more effectively, and that is how the $150 billion business was born.

If your start-up doesn’t fulfil a human need, then you’re setting yourself up for failure. It’s not enough to have a cool idea. Ask yourself, “What is the market need behind the offering?” and then test ways of delivering your offering in the most user-friendly manner. Talk to your consumers, understand their likes and dislikes and establish your business purpose before haphazardly allocating funds to R&D.

Related: How Netflix Is Now Disrupting The Film Industry By Embracing Short-Term Chaos

You can’t go from being a California based DVD-by-mail provider, to becoming the world’s largest online video streaming service without a business plan. It’s important to recognise the step-by-step process of success. Netflix didn’t go from delivering DVD’s to pouring capital into the production of video content within six months. That sort of development would have bankrupt the company almost immediately. It took 21 years for the business to become content creators.

  • In 1999, the company became a subscription service because they found that customers preferred paying a monthly fee rather than making a once off purchase.
  • Then, in 2009, the company used investor capital to expand their DVD collection because their clients wanted a larger selection of movies.
  • In 2010, the business expanded internationally because they saw a gap in the market across various countries.
  • Finally, in 2013, Netflix created its first original content series because customers craved fascinating content beyond the overused Hollywood archetype.

The point is: Progress didn’t happen overnight. The business had to set goals and objectives. They then had to fund their growth by presenting market opportunities, backed by customer insights, to their investors. Establish your start-up one step at a time and make sure every progression isn’t innovation for innovations sake – it must be inspired by a human need.

13-reasons-whyNetflix was founded by a computer scientist and a marketing director. While one partner focused on Netflix’ service development, the other focused on sales. Since the company’s origin, collaboration and balance have been the cornerstones of the business’ success.

Netflix is currently composed of a diverse team of tech-professionals and designers. They understand the importance of combining technology and design to offer customer-inspired user-experiences.

After conducting consumer research, Netflix discovered that series and movie artwork influences viewing decisions by 82%. This has resulted in the creation of more descriptive and provocative designs. Netflix is known for leveraging human-behaviour to revolutionise their service offering.

As an entrepreneur, you can increase your ROI by partnering with the experts that understand human-based innovation.

Keep your customer at the heart of your business.

Related: What These 5 Digital KPIs Say About Your Business

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Building Customer Relationships

Are you working in a retail environment? Explore the Wits Plus online short course in Customer Relationship Building through the DigitalCampus.

Wits Plus

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Most retail businesses agree that providing excellent customer experience is imperative for a retail store to be successful.

But what is customer experience?  According to Forrester, an independent market research company, customer experience is “How customers perceive their interactions with your company”.

They explain that good customer experiences have three relevant characteristics for the customer:

  1. They are useful, thus deliver value and meet customer needs.
  2. They are usable, so the value is easy to find and engage with.
  3. They are enjoyable, and emotionally engaging so people want to use them.

The customer ‘interactions’ are the two-way exchanges that customers have with the company. A customer will make a judgement as to whether the company meets their needs, is easy to use and enjoyable to do business with. These judgements happen every single time the customer interacts with the company: when they navigate the company website, call the contact centre, enter the retail store, buy company products, talk to an employee, respond to an advert and so forth.

Providing excellent customer experience is challenging. The systems and processes required for excellent customer experience include understanding your customers, building a positive emotional connection with them, capturing and acting on feedback, developing and training everyone in the company and measuring the return on investment. All this is difficult enough to manage in a national company but what does it mean in this age of international and multinational companies?

Related: Customer Control For Entrepreneurs

Providing a superb customer experience is first underpinned by understanding the cultures, history, experiences and sensibilities of customers and then respecting them. Again, this is more manageable if your company is national and its cultural values are aligned with the national values and history. However, achieving this in a multi-national organisation where the historical experience and cultural values of the organisation may not be aligned with the country they are operating in, can be a real challenge.  A diverse workforce is also imperative to providing an outstanding customer experience and the importance of diversity is magnified in a multinational organisation.

This is demonstrated by the infamous ‘H&M hoodie incident’ that happened early this year. In Sweden the only jungle is urban, there are no wild monkeys and the black population is relatively small. As one would expect in a Scandinavian organisation, the H&M group board has good male-female diversity, but there are few black Swedes in senior decision-making positions. Few Swedes have experienced how skin colour can provide an all-pervasive feeling of difference, of ‘us and them’, and they have little, if any, understanding of these issues on a personal level.

However, H&M is a global organisation and therefore needs to have an intimate understanding of the different cultures and sensibilities of their customers in the different countries where they have a footprint; and respect them. The simple expedient of introducing a process whereby a local executive ensures that a new product is culturally sensitive could have demonstrated some organisational understanding of this issue.

The H&M hoodie debacle is an excellent example of how not understanding the customer can negatively impact on customer experience; how it can break the emotional engagement with customers and lose their trust. This incident has made it difficult for South African customers to engage positively with H&M. The importance of diversity in the senior teams throughout a multinational can directly impact the customer experience and the bottom line. In short, one picture and a hoodie nearly undermined the reputation of the organisation in South Africa!

Are you working in a retail environment? Explore the Wits Plus online short course in Customer Relationship Building through the DigitalCampus.

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Company Posts

Entrepreneurs Can Explore Opportunities In Growing Digital Textile And Interior Décor Markets

Those wanting to explore opportunities in digital textile printing can speak to experts at the Sign Africa and FESPA Africa Expo, taking place from 12-14 September at Gallagher Convention Centre.

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According to Mark Sollman, application manager at Mimaki, ‘Digital printing technologies are revolutionising the interior décor business. Not only can these items be produced more rapidly and with less waste than with traditional manufacturing processes, digital printing offers the ability to customise – or even personalise – interior décor.’

The global printed textile market is huge, estimated at over 32 billion square metres of output annually. Print is widely used to decorate the surface appearance of furniture and surfaces. Digital textile printing is ideal for customisation – allowing consumers to print unique products for their homes or businesses.

There are also emerging niche opportunities. For example, with the wide use of online travel review sites, hotels are increasingly keen to deliver a fresh experience. A ‘TripAdvisor effect’ has been identified, with the claim it reduces the hotel renovation cycle from every seven years to every five years, consequently boosting the market for printed décor.

There are many T-shirt printers offering a web-to-shirt service, where the buyer uploads their own unique image to be printed on to a garment on demand. The printing takes a large part of the value and will be done close to the buyer. For a fashion collection, stock-outs may be avoided by printing and making popular sizes and styles locally in small quantities.

Related: Explore Business Opportunities In Print At The Sign Africa And FESPA Africa Expo

This makes higher manufacturing cost less of a problem, and internet retailers can extend this with only commissioning the product after a sale has been completed online. Increasingly, supply chains are being pressured to provide greater flexibility, which inkjet textile printing is able to provide.

Applications with interior décor include; customised wall coverings and photo wall murals; window coverings and wall decals; curtains and blinds, cushions, lampshades and bags.

Those wanting to explore opportunities in digital textile printing can speak to experts at the Sign Africa and FESPA Africa Expo, taking place from 12-14 September at Gallagher Convention Centre. There are also a range of educational features, including: 

Textile Experience

Visit this hands-on workshop where printers can learn different techniques all taught by Charlie Taublieb, who has been in the screen printing industry since 1976, and heads up Taublieb Consulting in Greenwood Village, Colorado, a company specialising in technical screen printing consulting for textile printers. This takes place from 12-14 September, in hall 1 on the Rexx Screen & Digital Supplies stand.

T-Shirt and Bag Printing Workshop

Free demonstrations by local experts on T-shirts and bags with speciality printing techniques, direct to transfer and screen printing. For more info visit http://bit.ly/EntrepreneurSignAfrica5

Related: Considerations For Signage And Printing Industry Start-Ups

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