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Home / Investment Insights / Boutique Firm is Manager of the Year

Boutique Firm is Manager of the Year

By Personal Finance, 2nd Quarter 2020*

Mi-Plan, a boutique asset management company based in Newlands, Cape Town, outperformed the major players in South Africa’s investment industry to win the coveted South African Manager of the Year trophy at the annual Raging Bull Awards gala dinner, held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Tuesday, January 28.

The event recognises outstanding performance by unit trust fund managers in selecting investments for their portfolios, taking into account consistency of returns and management of investment risk. The runners-up in the South African Manager of the Year race – and recipients of certificates – were Investec Asset Management in second place and Prescient in third place. Last year’s winner, Allan Gray, which has dominated the awards in recent years, slipped back to fourth position, while Alexander Forbes Investments was fifth. The Raging Bull Award for Offshore Manager of the Year went to Nedgroup Investments, for its suite of offshore funds domiciled in Ireland (see below). The manager of the year awards are based on the risk-adjusted performance of a company’s suite of qualifying unit trust funds, as determined by the PlexCrown Fund Ratings system, over a five-year period, in this instance to the end of 2019.

Mi-Plan has a best-of-class approach to its funds that are not managed in-house, choosing leading portfolio managers from across the industry. Mi-Plan director Anton Turpin said the awards gave smaller firms the opportunity to show off their investment skills. Speaking to Personal Finance at the event, Turpin said: “It’s an opportunity for smaller managers in South Africa – those companies that don’t have large advertising budgets – to reach investors and tell them about the rewards they can get through good stock selection, good asset allocation and good risk management. These smaller companies have some pretty good asset managers, who have the nimbleness to get in and out of asset classes and stocks when they want to, and achieve for investors what they’re looking for, which is often inflation-beating returns, in a market that has been particularly difficult and that has required a lot of skill. “I am the owner and face of the business, but credit must go to the underlying managers in our best-of-class approach – including Tony Bell, Rowan Williams-Short and Craig MacArthur of Vunani and Guy Monson of Sarasin – who will be happy to know that what they have achieved for our investors, who have put their trust in a company without a major brand, has been recognised.”

The other major awards at the event were fund-specific: four for straight performance over three years and four for risk-adjusted performance over five years, to the end of 2019. In addition to the main awards, 30 certificates were awarded to funds according to their subcategory in the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa classification system for collective investments. The event is hosted annually by Personal Finance, and was sponsored this year by Investment Fund Africa and the JSE. ProfileData and its subsidiary, PlexCrown Fund Ratings, were the data providers.


Mi-Plan, established in 2006, manages nine retail unit trust funds covering the South African and international markets, of which eight funds qualified for inclusion in the PlexCrown Fund Rating system. These eight funds scored an average of 4.278 PlexCrowns, with two of the funds, the Mi-Plan IP Global Macro Fund (featured in Fund Focus, page 52) and the Mi-Plan IP Enhanced Income Fund, achieving five PlexCrowns, the highest rating. Four funds scored four PlexCrowns, and two funds scored three PlexCrowns. Not a single fund came in below three PlexCrowns, which represents average performance within a fund subcategory.

Investec Asset Management

Investec Asset Management, which has since separated from Investec and is now known as Ninety One, came in only just behind MiPlan, with an average of 4.262 PlexCrowns for its 15 qualifying funds. Of these funds, seven achieved five PlexCrowns (two global funds, two local equity funds, and all three of its multi-asset funds – the Investec Cautious Managed Fund, the Investec Managed Fund, and the Investec Opportunity Fund). Two funds had four PlexCrowns, five had three PlexCrowns and one had a single PlexCrown.


Prescient was third among the unit trust managers, scoring an average of 3.882 PlexCrowns for its 12 qualifying funds. The company’s two top performers, with five PlexCrowns each, were the Prescient Equity Top 40 Fund and the Prescient Balanced Fund. There were five funds with four PlexCrowns, two with three PlexCrowns, and three with a below-par two PlexCrowns.

Offshore companies

The second major company award at the gala event was for unit trust companies that are domiciled offshore and whose funds are approved by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority to be marketed to South African Investors. These can be local companieswith offshore divisions or foreign companies. The Raging Bull Award for Offshore Manager of the Year (for performance to the end of 2019) went to Nedgroup Investments. It was the fifth year in a row that Nedgroup has walked away with the award. Nedgroup Investments’s offshore funds are domiciled in Ireland. It had three qualifying offshore funds: the Global Equity Fund, which earned five PlexCrowns, and two multi-asset funds – the Global Flexible Fund (three PlexCrowns) and Global Cautious Fund (three PlexCrowns). The manager’s overall rating was four PlexCrowns.Coronation Global, with 3.667 PlexCrowns across five qualifying funds, and Schroders (3.667 PlexCrowns across four funds) tied for second place in the offshore company rankings.