03 April 2018 Photo Sonia Small
First-rate fund managers in SA produced by UFS Prof Philippe Burger
of Philippe Burger, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Science.

A recent comparative study on the performance of South African fund managers has revealed that the-top performing fund managers over a running average of five years are former undergraduate students of the University of the Free State (UFS).

In an attempt to understand South Africa’s fund managers, Leigh Köhler, head of research at Glacier by Sanlam, and his team, published a comprehensive breakdown which looked at all South African universities and universities of technology. Aspects explored in the report included philosophy, process, people, organisational structure, and cost of funds. In addition, the study also considered characteristics such as age, tenure, level of qualification and undergraduate university to identify fund managers who are superior to their peers.

A closer look at the statistics
The majority of the sampled fund managers studied at the University of Cape Town (46%), University of Stellenbosch (10%), and University of the Witwatersrand (8%), while only 2% studied at the UFS. However, according to the report, “The highest average performance over five years was generated by fund managers who attended the UFS – 13.25%.” This means that for every rand they invested, the portfolios managed by UFS alumni got back approximately R1.13 annually, the highest return when compared to the returns generated by portfolio managers from other universities. These fund managers are employed by a range of institutions, including independent asset management firms, insurance companies, banks and wealth managers.

What our acting dean had to say

Prof Philippe Burger, Acting Dean at the UFS Faculty of Economic and Management Science, said: “When you and I put money into a pension fund or investment, portfolio managers buy bonds and shares with it from companies. Those companies use that money to invest in building factories, businesses, offices, and of course they make a profit on their investments. That profit is used to pay interest and dividends. These interest payments, dividends and increased share values constitute the returns paid to investors.”

The outstanding performance of UFS-groomed fund managers is a comment on the quality of the students UFS delivers. “For decades we have had a BComm degree that includes an option to specialise in what was previously called Money and Banking, and is now called Financial Economics. We are the only faculty that has had a focus on Financial Economics going back all the way to the late 1970s. In that sense we train people and give them an education that allows them to perform like this,” said Prof Burger. 

Moving forward, the faculty is looking at partnerships with financial institutions that can strengthen that capacity and give students increased value for money. 

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