Ronel Talks Money: Elize Botha


Unit trusts remains a popular investment option and caters for all types of investors. Whether you are starting out or are a seasoned investor, there will be a unit trust that suits your needs and unit trusts should feature in your investment portfolio. Unit trusts offers multiple benefits like more cost effective, diversification and highly experienced fund managers managing the funds. In this interview I asked Elize Botha, Managing Director of Old Mutual Unit Trusts about her personal money journey and to share insight about investing in unit trusts.

Let’s meet:

Name and surname:  

Elize Botha

Profession / title / business:

Managing Director: Old Mutual Unit Trusts

How would you describe yourself?

I am a traveller at heart as I believe that travel opens the mind and enchants the soul. Seeing different places also makes you realise that we are all the same. With that said, there is still no place like South Africa; I love our country, I believe in its future and I am passionate about our people. I am also a strong advocate of female empowerment and supporting women to excel in business. In my private time, when I’m not travelling, I love reading, attending the theatre, and wine tasting. 

Tell us about your career?

I started out by completing my law degree but diverted into finance. I have worked in distribution for years before accepting the brilliant opportunity to lead the Old Mutual Unit Trusts business. Here I believe we have the chance to really change people’s lives. Myself and the team are driven to make investing more accessible to all South Africans and help them make their financial goals a reality.

What do you consider your proudest achievements / highlights?

There is more than one:

  • Building a distribution team, processes and MIS from scratch at a start-up.
  • Being appointed as Managing Director for Old Mutual Unit Trusts.

What was your biggest failure or lowest point in your career?

Years ago, while working at a large corporate I had a very difficult working relationship with my manager. He made my life very difficult. I learnt a lot about myself and the person I wanted to be from that encounter.

How did you get back up after failure?

I realised what type of leader I wanted to be and to never make people feel worthless. I also realised you are the only thinker in your mind. What you believe about yourself is reality, not what others say.

Why Investing in Unit Trusts?

  1. Affordable and Accessible
  2. Diverse
  3. Liquid
  4. Safe
  5. Sustainable

Let’s talk money:

How would you describe your money mind-set?

You need to be comfortable with money for it to enter your life. When money is earned, spent, saved and given consciously, it reflects what we value most.

What was your biggest discovery about money?

Money is personal and has different meaning for each of us. To me, money is an expression of energy and should be used as an enabler for your life; fill your life with joy, people and grand experiences.

What is your view about the importance of budgeting and do you have a budget?

You need a budget. If you do not know where your money goes you can’t control its flow. 22/7 has a great budgeting tool. Use it. I absolutely have a budget and believe it is imperative for achieving monitory success.

How do you save money?

I have several discretionary unit trusts. Apart from my work pension fund I also have a retirement annuity (your work pension will hardly ever give you enough to live from). I also have a tax-free savings account (please make sure you have one).

What is your favourite investment type / -s?

Balanced funds; it’s diversified and good for medium- to long-term investing. I also like our passive ESG (environmental, social and governance) funds; you are making a difference to the world, paying less for your investments and ensuring that you are helping the planet and its people while you invest.

What is your view about having an emergency fund?

No-one likes to think about all the things that can go wrong in life, but you have to make sure you are financially prepared for emergencies. Ideally you should have between three and six months of your salary put aside at any given time for a rainy day. This fund is different to saving for a holiday and should be used for more unplanned events, such as unexpected medical costs or a sudden loss of income. An emergency fund will help you create a firm foundation for your financial plan and can prevent nasty surprises that will set you back years in terms of your finances.

Do you believe there is merit in being financially well organised – have all your policies in place, have a life file and a signed will etc.?

Absolutely! If something happened to you – you are empowering your loved ones by being organised.

What tips do you have with regards to retirement planning?

Only 6% of South Africans are currently able to retire comfortably. This is a scary statistic, and the earlier you start saving for your future the better. Choose a trusted partner and diversify your investments. When you leave a job, do not cash-out your retirement savings, transfer it, if you have the option to do so, or put it in a preservation fund to still achieve the benefits of compound interest.

Knowing what you know today, what would you have done differently when it comes to money decisions / management?

Started investing even earlier. I’d also like to highlight that there’s a difference between saving and investing. Investing builds your wealth through equity-based investment vehicles, which can protect the buying power of your money over the long-term. Whereas saving, often in bank accounts, are seldom able to deliver the level of real growth required to beat inflation.

What is your advice to other people with regards to money management and building a better financial future for themselves and their families?

As you craft life goals, you have to have financials goals. And be strict about it. Once you have your investment – leave it alone. Don’t switch yourself into poverty.

Be clear on your dreams and goals. We are all individuals and your financial plan is exactly the same. You should focus on what is important to you and your family. Have an emergency fund, then move on to retirement and then to discretionary investments i.e. for your kids’ education etc.

Limit and manage your debt. We believe in a 50/30/20 principle. Spend 50% of your money on living expenses, 30% on servicing debt and 20% on investments. We usually recommend 15% to be for retirement and 5% for discretionary savings (emergency fund, tax free, education. etc).

Start looking for money and you’ll probably find some; for birthdays ask family and friends for money instead of gifts and use it to start investing. You can invest in a unit trust for as little as R250 per month.

Let’s talk about investing in unit trusts

Elize you are an expert when it comes to unit trusts, why should people invest in unit trusts?

  1. Affordable and Accessible: Because investors buy into a pool of funds, they can hold units without having to lay out big amounts of capital. For as little as R250 a month, you can invest in unit trusts.
  2. Diverse: Because a unit trust is a basket of diverse shares, this reduces investment risk.
  3. Liquid: Investors can buy and sell shares on demand.
  4. Safe: The fund is set up under a trust deed and the investor is a beneficiary under the trust company.
  5. Sustainable: As part of our commitment to responsible investing we consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues in all our investment decisions, and manage a range of ESG indexation and socially responsible funds.

What is your advice to people who would like to start investing in unit trusts but don’t have a lot of money?

A common trap we fall into is ‘I don’t have enough money to save right now’, but the truth is that every little bit helps. Start looking for money and you’ll probably find some; for birthdays ask family and friends for money instead of gifts and use it to start investing. You can invest in a unit trust for as little as R250 per month via the 22/7 Application.

There are so many unit trusts out there, how can you ensure you select the best suited option for you?

Financial planners and unit trust providers can make the selection process easier for you. For example, Old Mutual Unit Trusts has identified five core investor needs: Home and security; Freedom and adventure; Education and ambition; Retirement independence and A big goal. We then handpicked ten funds, known as the Investment Series. This core range of investment funds, each varying in risk exposure and expected returns, allows you to select the fund most suited to your personal saving goals.

Elize you are passionate about women empowerment. How can women empower themselves with regards to investments?

Firstly, never outsource your financial future to anyone else. Take the time to understand your financial reality. With divorce rates where they are today we cannot rely on our partners to do the planning for us.

Educate yourself – start reading up on money. A great place to start is Old Mutual’s Moneyversity; it’s an online financial educational tool that empowers you to make the most of your money and also offers courses on how to manage your money and reach your financial goals.

To connect with Elize Botha

Website: www.oldmutualinvest.com

LinkedIn: Elize Botha

Thank You