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In the spotlight: Mokgatla Madisha

Introducing Mokgatla Madisha, Head of Fixed Income at Sanlam Investments. Mokgatla is an expert in bonds, with a keen understanding of emerging markets.


Q: Mokgatla, tell us a bit more about your role and how it aligns with our aims at Sanlam Investments.

A: Thank you for the question. I am the Head of Fixed Income in Sanlam Investments’ Active Management business – where Fixed Income is one of the four divisions alongside Equities, Balanced, and Absolute Return. Leading a team comprising 10 portfolio managers and analysts, my responsibility involves ensuring that Sanlam Investments’ Active Manager is positioned to capitalise on the growth observed in the fixed income market.


Q: Tell us about your career path up until this point.

A: I started my career as a bond trader in 2000 at a small investment bank, then worked for  Futuregrowth Asset Management. I moved to Investec Asset Management, where I spent seven years as a trader and portfolio manager. In 2011, I joined Argon Asset Management, where I became Head of Fixed Income. The role was important in my career because until then I had only really been responsible for portfolio performance. That role introduced me to people management and business strategy.  In 2016, I joined Sanlam Investments’ Active Management business, in a similar capacity. At Sanlam, I have been more involved in credit. I have also served on several credit committees, for both public and private markets.


Q: Let’s get into your head a little. How would you articulate your investment process and how has it evolved throughout your career?

A: The essence of my process is to determine the relative value of various fixed income asset classes. I believe it’s insightful to view South Africa from the perspective of a global emerging markets investor because prices are set at the margin. Foreign investors have choices, and they allocate capital to a market based on its relative attractiveness rather than absolute valuation. Therefore, I place emphasis on comparing South African bonds to those in other emerging markets (ensuring an appropriate peer group is constructed) and evaluating the relative attractiveness of emerging market bonds to those in developed market bonds.  In the last 10-years or so, South Africa’s credit fundamentals have weakened significantly, meaning South African government bonds trade more like a credit product rather than an interest rate product.


Q: You’ve had great success in your career. What has made your portfolio successful?  

A: Financial markets are very dynamic and complex. You can’t rely on yesterday’s knowledge or experience. So, it is important to read as much as possible and stay on top of developments. As in life, integrity and honesty are important qualities in the market. Your word must be your bond. I have also had good mentors and sponsors who have helped me. My first two jobs came in rather quick succession, but after that I felt it was important to show commitment and stick around, and with that came opportunities.


Q: Recognising the demanding nature of the investment industry, is there such a thing as work-life balance while meeting industry demands?

A: In the early years, before I had a family, there was no balance. I was in the office at 6am and out at 6pm.  Even now, having a very understanding and supportive wife goes a long way in providing the necessary balance. She gives me the space to prioritise exercising and “me time” to deal with stress.


Q: How important is culture in the workplace, particularly working closely with other people?

A: I’ve had the privilege to work with some smart people throughout my career, but they were also kind people from whom I learnt a lot. I try to do the same for others. Naturally, conflicts have arisen, but I believe in the principle of “playing the ball, not the man” – which means focusing on the issues at hand and creating space for debate – it is never personal. In the long run, this approach builds trust.

At Argon Asset Management, I was introduced to a life coach, which was a great experience as it made me more results orientated. Here at Sanlam Investments, my mentor and seasoned investor, Andre Roux, who was the CIO of Sanlam Emerging Markets when I joined the business, played a role in facilitating my integration into the organisation. I can’t take credit for that relationship, he took it upon himself to play that role, and I am grateful. In short, intellectual honesty is very important, be open to learning and developing others.


Q: How does the investment landscape look ten years from today and how are you adapting to this imagined future?  

A: Global politics is going to play a much bigger role in how we think about investing than it did since the collapse of the Soviet Union, marking the ascendance of America as the global hegemon. Our world view will change from US-centric to multi-polar. Also, with the rapid development on the technology front, one should expect financial technology (fintech) to make a big impact on the investment industry. For a while now, the emergence of non-traditional players entering this space has been a topic of discussion and technological progress will further facilitate their participation.

It is important that our investment products evolve with our clients’ changing needs for global diversification. Integrating technology into our investment process is important as it enables us to incorporate non-traditional sources of information into decision-making. This entails leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities.

At Sanlam Investments, sustainability is a core focus. This involves not only mindful investment allocation but also how are we improving the lives of vulnerable groups. Given the infrastructure backlog in the country and on the continent at large, there are immense opportunities for positive impact.





Sanlam Investments consists of the following authorised Financial Services Providers: Sanlam Investment Management (Pty) Ltd (“SIM”), Sanlam Multi Manager International (Pty) Ltd (“SMMI”), Satrix Managers (RF) (Pty) Ltd, Graviton Wealth Management (Pty) Ltd (“GWM”), Graviton Financial Partners (Pty) Ltd (“GFP”), Satrix Investments (Pty) Ltd, Amplify Investment Partners (Pty) Ltd (“Amplify”), Sanlam Africa Real Estate Advisor Pty Ltd (“SAREA”), Simeka Wealth (Pty) Ltd and Absa Alternative Asset Management (Pty) Ltd (“AAM”); and has the following approved Management Companies under the Collective Investment Schemes Control Act: Sanlam Collective Investments (RF) (Pty) Ltd (“SCI”), Satrix Managers (RF) (Pty) Ltd (“Satrix”) and Absa Fund Managers (RF) (Pty) Ltd. Sanlam is a full member of ASISA. Please note that past performances are not necessarily an accurate determination of future performances, and that the value of investments/collective investment units/unit trusts may go down as well as up.

The information in this article does not constitute financial advice.  While every effort has been made to ensure the reasonableness and accuracy of the information contained in this document (“the information”), the FSP, their shareholders, subsidiaries, clients, agents, officers and employees do not make any representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or suitability of the information and shall not be held responsible and disclaims all liability for any loss, liability and damage whatsoever suffered as a result of or which may be attributable, directly or indirectly, to any use of or reliance upon the information.

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