Back to all articles

In the spotlight: James Turp

James Turp, Head of Investment Strategy and Portfolio Manager for Fixed Income in Sanlam Investments’ Active Management business, shares his career journey. James discusses the importance of a client-focused approach and work-life balance in achieving success as an investment professional.

With accolades such as several Raging Bull Awards and a Morningstar award for fund management, James’s expertise and dedication to excellence are evident.

Tell us about your new role

Initially appointed as a Fixed Income Portfolio Manager, my role expanded to include Head of Investment Strategy in the Fixed Income team in April 2024. This expansion allowed me to leverage my investment and financial market experience to strengthen and support the team’s investment process.

Where did your career journey begin?

I started my career as a Currency Dealer at one of the ‘Big Four’ banks before managing African bond portfolios at an international investment bank which sparked my passion for fixed income investments. Post-global emerging market debt crisis, I transitioned to trading interest rate derivatives through the global financial crisis. I also managed currency and offshore debt at Eskom’s treasury.

I joined Absa Asset Management in December 2013 as a Portfolio Manager of the Absa Bond Fund and later became the Head of Absa’s Fixed Income Franchise. In December 2022, the Absa Investment business merged with Sanlam Investments, where I now contribute to a strong Fixed Income team.

What is James Turp’s trademark investment philosophy?

My investment philosophy has evolved throughout my career. As a trader, I aimed to maximise benefits within risk limits, remaining vigilant and responsive to market changes. I believe the ability to react quickly to changing market conditions contributed to my success as a trader.

Shifting to asset management, I prioritise a client-focused approach. I manage portfolios to achieve a clearly defined result at the lowest appropriate risk. I believe in delivering the best possible outcomes for clients by applying our experience and insight to invest portfolios as diligently as we would with our own money.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face at an asset manager?

Entering asset management, I encountered many challenges. As a new fund manager, establishing a superior track record is essential for attracting investors amid high barriers to entry and fierce industry competition. The barriers to entry are high and many funds don’t survive the five-year mark. Performance, naturally, can’t always be superior to peers, as such you need strong distribution.

Is work-life balance possible in your field?

COVID-19 forced us to be more accessible and flexible, blurring work-rest boundaries. The neglect of work-life balance has shifted, with companies like Sanlam Investments emphasising its importance. Prioritising work-life balance strategically, I focus on family and friends, incorporating personal activities like gym sessions and yoga for equilibrium. Just as we approach investing strategically, it’s crucial to treat work-life balance with the same diligence.

What keeps you motivated?

When I began my career as an asset manager, I had finished a book from 1910 on investing and wealth creation. Its message about achieving sustainable value and success by contributing positively to the world resonated deeply with me. After years in trading, which often felt like a zero-sum game, transitioning to asset management felt validating. The opportunity to protect and grow people’s savings and investments is a true privilege, emphasising our ability to create value for others.

How do you think the industry is evolving?

The investment industry has undergone significant changes in the past five years. COVID-19 demonstrated our ability to swiftly adapt to unforeseen challenges, showcasing South Africans’ resilience.

Trends like Artificial Intelligence are reshaping our industry, demanding adaptation for survival and making active fixed income management an exciting arena.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Show Comments

Comments are closed.