Born in Otjiwarongo, Lesley Rukoro studied in Namibia, South Africa and England before working in the investment industry for 12 years, seven of which he spent in his current position at Momentum Asset Management. He has also worked with the Government and the Bank of Namibia.
As one of the youngest subsidiaries of MMI Holdings Namibia, what are Momentum Asset Managements’ key milestones over the last decade?
MAMN (Momentum Asset Management) started operating in Namibia in 2005 as RMB Asset Management Namibia and has grown into a mid-size fund manager. Our back office operations are completely localised in Namibia and about five years ago we successfully integrated the operations of Momentum Asset Management Namibia and Metropolitan Asset Management Namibia. As such we remain the custodian of wealth for a wide range of clients from all corners of Namibia.
Can you elaborate on the products offered by Momentum Asset Management?
We offer a wide range of products for retirement assets as well as discretionary cash. Our offering is generally guided by the requirements of our clients thus it can range from the very conservative money market investments to the more aggressive only equities or multi asset (equities, cash bonds, offshore) products.
How has the non-banking financial sector in Namibia grown over the last decade?
The asset management industry, which manages funds in excess of N$150 billion, is just one part of the non-banking financial sector. A large part of this is contractual savings which are channelled through retirement funds. Comparably, at independence in 1990 this amount was far below N$1 billion. It shows how substantial wealth has been created for clients and hopefully brought many people closer to financial freedom. It has also created auxiliary businesses such as stockbrokers, the stock exchange and custodian businesses. Local capital markets have also benefitted from the industry.
Would you say this growth is also comparable to skills development and capacity building?
This is a very crucial component for a young and developing country like Namibia and especially with some of the challenges like unemployment that we experience. I believe skills and capacity building applies along all the stages of primary, secondary, tertiary and vocational training and finally extends to the formal workplace.
Strengthening skills and capacity along all these stages will go a long way to foster, not only economic growth, poverty reduction and socio economic transformation, but will also enhance a mind-set of capability and dignity.
Would you rate adequate the Namibian populations’ participation in the non-banking financial sector?
The non- banking financial field is wide; thus, I will specifically only refer to some aspects.
Although we have one of the highest insurance penetration rates in Africa, I believe there is scope for greater participation. This greater participation can and will ultimately be driven by improved financial literacy, a clear understanding of products and uses as well the innovation in the industry.
On the savings side the largest component is contractual savings from retirement funds. Ideally contractual savings should be complemented by discretionary savings and ultimately increased discretionary savings will be achieved through the promotion of a savings and investment culture.
Are all Namibians at various income levels able to participate in the investment opportunities offered by Momentum Asset Management? How decentralised are your products countrywide?
Yes, we have a wide reach of various clients through the retirement products offered as well as products that are available for discretionary savings.
Our products are quite decentralised. Access to our life, savings and risk products is catered for under our Metropolitan Swabou brand for the lower to medium income end of the market and Momentum Myriad for the medium to higher income end of the market. We have a distribution network across all regions of the country.
How do you rate the current investment climate in Namibia?
The investment climate has been very conducive for quite some time supported by an abundance of capital worldwide and expansionary fiscal spending and the relatively low cost of money from lower interest rates. However, more recently this has become more challenging evidenced by a slowdown in economic activity and consolidation of fiscal policy. This does not necessarily spell doom, all economies move in cycles. It is also possible that these cycles might just provide ideal opportunities for long term investments.
What gives Momentum Asset Management the edge in the investment sector?
We are a well-regarded partner and brand on the path to financial wellness with a strategy that offers a suite of investment capabilities, expertise and products through specialised teams and services. The scope of the diversity of the offerings and expertise underscores the case for being the logical choice of partner for investors looking for sustainable solutions.
Looking at MMI Holdings Namibia, how does Momentum Asset management fit in it?
MMI Holdings Namibia aims to be the partner of choice for financial wellness through its core businesses of long term insurance, investments and healthcare administration. These products and service solutions are provided through our operating brands Metropolitan Swabou, Momentum, Momentum Asset Management and Methealth Namibia Administrators.
Momentum Asset Management is the investment arm of MMI Holdings Namibia investing all the premiums and income received. In addition to providing these services to the Group, Momentum Asset Management also invests funds on behalf of non-related entities like retirement funds and corporates/institutions.
Could you explain to the laymen the structure of MMI Holdings Namibia?
MMI Holdings Namibia is the ultimate holding company for all our businesses. That sits at the top and is not a client brand, but only an investor brand since we are a listed company. Basically, when we engage with the regulators and all other legal and statutory stakeholders we do that under our investor brand which is MMI Holdings Namibia. Under MMI Holdings Namibia, there are three subsidiary businesses, the life business (with client facing brands such as Momentum and Metropolitan Swabou), the health administration business (Methealth Namibia Administrators) and the investment management business (Momentum Asset Management).
What are Momentum Asset Managements’ corporate social responsibility initiatives?
As a Group, social responsibility focus is at the core of who we are. Our dedication as a community partner is evidenced in the local events we sponsor under our brands.
The Momentum brand continues the legacy of developing schools rugby by sponsoring the secondary schools rugby league. The league is aimed at showcasing rugby as a celebrated sport in Namibia in addition to identifying talented players with a particular emphasis on players from rural areas.
Under the Metropolitan Swabou brand we sponsor the Metropolitan Swabou Summer Cup that has been hosted in the north for more than eight years and regarded as one of the most prestigious sport events in the north. It attracts more than 200 learners from 4 different regions namely Oshana, Ohangwena, Oshikoto and Omusati. We have recently started to include the Hardap and Karas regions. The tournament identifies and grooms young talent and facilitates entry into regional and national teams.
Under our Methealth Namibia Administrators brand we sponsor medical students in partnership with NMC on an annual basis.
What are Momentum Asset Managements’ long and short term objectives?
Our business is a custodian of our client’s wealth and we aim to sustainably protect and grow these assets to ensure financial wellness for our clients. This fundamental objective will not change in the long term, but we constantly aim to improve the way in which we achieve this.
What are your core principles about leadership?
Effective leadership is about setting out a clear and compelling strategic direction. It should be practical so that people understand exactly what their role is in achieving the goal. A leader’s actions are also important and investment in team members’ capabilities are likely to encourage loyalty and commitment.
Are there any restrictive elements in the investment sector?
In the past, it has been fairly easy to register an investment management company. However, in order to gain traction, skills, processes and a sustainable investment track record remains crucial. For new entrants the biggest hurdle is achieving critical mass in assets which is literally the tipping point towards sustainability for a new business in the sector.
More recently, with the introduction of further conditions for investment managers, general requirements have become more stringent. It is not necessarily restrictive, but I believe it enhances governance and strengthens credibility in the sector.