We analyse Duncan Theron, CEO of GraySwan Investments.
If someone came to you tomorrow with R100m to invest in just one company, which would it be?

Emerging market equities continue to offer value for investors who are prepared to be selective, have a high risk appetite and a long-term investment horizon. I would invest the assets in a low-cost global emerging market equity fund with a responsible and sustainable investment overlay. By screening out poorly governed emerging market shares and investing in well-governed shares, investors can expect a 2%-3%/year outperformance of the markets over the long term.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I wish I were more tech savvy.

What was your first job?

I was an accountant in the treasury division of Standard Corporate & Merchant Bank.

What was your worst investment mistake?

Brainware. I bought it at listing in 1998 during the tech bubble. It went all the way up to R6 and then dropped to 1c and delisted. I learnt a painful lesson from that experience.

What’s your favourite song?

“Adventures of a Lifetime” by Coldplay.

On what occasion do you lie?

As a teenager I used to lie about my age to get into Spats, a nightclub in the Sandton Sun. Now I sometimes lie when asked about my day, as I’d rather be positive than moan about a tough day in the markets.

How much was your first pay cheque and what did you do with it?

I earned R10,000 before tax. I bought another suit at the Royal Plaza and a Toyota Conquest 1.3l on finance, and started paying back my Standard Bank student loan.

Do you own bitcoin? And why?

No. It seems like the easy path to riches and reminds me of my Brainware lesson. First, I like to invest based on fundamentals and where there is a margin of safety. Second, I don’t need to gamble. I started saving early and my investments are compounding double digits every year, which is adequate to meet my retirement objectives.

What is your most treasured possession?

My Duncan Fearnley cricket bat, which I played with in primary school. I was one of those young boys who stood next to the field, asking for my heroes’ signatures. The bat has all the old cricket legends’ signatures on it — including those of the Transvaal Mean Machine team. I wanted to bat like Jimmy Cook and bowl like Vince van der Bijl.

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