Matie Voices

Dr Gerhard Cruywagen

Alumnus of the Faculty of Science


“If, for example, we spend wisely on infrastructure development and education, it would have tremendous benefits for South Africa in the future.”

Dr Gerhard Cruywagen is about to reach his 10-year milestone of being chief investment officer (CIO) at Sanlam Investments.

Being responsible for the management of portfolios of financial assets that have been entrusted to the company by their clients is no easy task. In fact, it is expected that these portfolios will have to outperform the returns delivered by pre-defined benchmarks.

“The asset base is large and investments are made with a long time frame in mind, for example, three to 10 years and beyond,” Gerhard, a previous recipient of the Sanlam CEO award, explains.

“It is therefore very important to have a consistent investment philosophy and process which you believe in, and then to use that as a basis for making long-term decisions.”

Because we are continuously exposed to economic and political news—in addition to changing asset prices—employing such a structured way of thinking aids him in deciding on what is relevant to his clients’ portfolios.

“Thanks to this approach I have been successful in contributing to the consistent performance of these portfolios over the last decade.”

It has become very difficult for companies to plan and operate in countries where there is political or economic uncertainty. As a result of everything that’s happened in South Africa over the past few years, many companies delayed or refrained from making new investments.

“And, of course, new investments are what’s required for growth and expansion. Partly, because of this, the economy has not grown as well as it could have and new jobs were not created.

“In addition, the misallocation of taxpayers’ money by the government to non-productive areas has been very detrimental to the economy. If, for example, we spend wisely on infrastructure development and education, it would have tremendous benefits for South Africa in the future.”

When not concentrating on making crucial long-term decisions on behalf of his clients, Gerhard’s private life allows him to expand his body and mind.

“I read widely, mostly non-fiction, from books to blogs and research papers. Because I initially worked as a research scientist, I have a particular interest in topics such as data science, machine learning and computing.

“Whenever we are able to, my family and I love taking to the outdoors and to staying fit by running, mountain biking and taking hikes.”

- By Steyn du Toit -