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Three Wise Monkeys, Clocks and Crispy Bao Buns; a tale of an architecturally inclined Portfolio Manager's unconventional symphony of tastes

At Sasfin Wealth, our investment philosophy is that we combine our solid and robust investment process to reach our clients’ investment objectives. Furthermore, our portfolio managers bring their personality and diverse interests to this investment philosophy, complementing our numerous portfolios and meeting clients’ expectations.

In this latest conversation with a Portfolio Manager, we have a coffee chat with Nicholas Dakin (Nick to many) who has been with Sasfin Wealth since 2016. As a Portfolio Manager, Nick is a rising star in the world of investment management and has already made a name for himself as a savvy investor with a knack for finding innovative and disruptive global companies that are poised for growth.

A workday in Dakin’s world kicks off with freezing pool dips, playful banter, and financial wizardry intertwined with breakfast served at lunchtime.

“On the days I work from home (twice a week), I will typically try and exercise in the morning before work.  After exercising, if I am feeling brave, I will go for a swim in the (freezing) Cape Town water at Saunders Tidal Pool. Then it’s back home to listen to the morning meeting where David Shapiro will often make fun of me (because he misses me so much since I moved from JHB to Cape Town). Going into the workday, you will often have a list of tasks that you would like to get through. However, you seldom get to these as the day takes on a life of its own. I try to have as few meetings as possible. If I do have meetings, I prefer them to be in person. Multi-tasking is the norm – you have to juggle many things at once. For example, going from writing a portfolio review for a client, to figuring out why a share is moving sharply, to having your breakfast (at lunch time)”

Earlier this year, Nick was part of a panel of financial and investments experts at the JSE #SAStockPicks event, where he unpacked his stock picks and the rationale behind his choices.  If you missed it, watch him here.

Upon arrival at Sasfin’s Cape Town office for our coffee conversation, I am greeted by a welcoming smile by Nick with some small chatter before he proceeds to ask if I’d like some coffee, which turns out to be him making the coffee.

As we all take a moment to enjoy our coffee, I break the ice by asking him what his all-time favourite books, songs, and dishes are.  

Here is what Nick had to say.

A book; “surprisingly, I’m not a big reader of books. After a day of reading emails and news articles, I prefer to switch off by watching some Netflix. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, the founder and CEO of Nike is worth a read. The book provides unique insights into the world of business and entrepreneurship.

The movie “Air”, currently streaming on Amazon Prime, starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, is also a great watch. The film is based on true events about the origin of Nike’s Air Jordan shoe line.

“Clocks by Coldplay is my go-to song, I really enjoy the instrumental component – the piano. The song came out when I use to play the piano, so, I really enjoyed the sound.”

One could see Nick’s mouth water as he tells us about his favourite dish. “I'd go with the Three Wise Monkeys' crispy chicken bao buns. It's the unique flavours that are fresh and delicious”. A meal Nick admits is difficult for him to even attempt to create himself.

Despite that, fun fact is that Nick enjoys cooking, “my favourite dish to make is curry”.

Our conversation moves to the markets and investing. He tells me that his primary focus is on long-term investments, and he's always on the lookout for quality companies with strong fundamentals. He believes that it's important to understand the underlying businesses of the companies he invests in, and to carefully analyse their financial statements to determine whether they're undervalued or overvalued.

This prompts him to explain his investment strategy: "I believe in being more flexible, because the environment has a huge impact on investing." Determining if an investment is dangerous is generally determined by whether it keeps the customer up at night. If the client is not at ease or uncomfortable, it is not the appropriate portfolio for them. My objective is to invest my clients' money so that they may feel calm, at rest, and sleep well at night."

"It was a very difficult time for me, Covid hit hard, global market volatility," Nick says of his first year as a Portfolio Manager in 2020. So, what keeps me up at night about my profession is anticipating the next global event that will have an influence on the markets."

So, keeping this in mind, Nick makes an effort to prepare his clients for talks about underperforming portfolios, saying, "I am upfront and honest with clients." Pulling the wool over their eyes will always backfire. I make an effort to go into detail and educate clients on portfolio performance."

Portfolio management is not for the faint of heart. So, to de-stress, Nick starts his weekends with a workout at Sweat1000, followed by lunch with friends. He sneaks in some golf (he has a ten handicap) and tennis. "You will not find me hiking," he continues, "unlike most Cape Town locals, I’ve yet to venture up the infamous Lion's Head."

We continue our conversation, delving deeper into the intricacies of the industry and how he keeps up with current trends. “Podcasts; the likes of Simone Brown, Jim Cramer – Mad money. I follow a lot of news and financial related pages on my social media, and I research more on topics that interest me”.

Over the years Nick has learnt some valuable advice and one of which he wished he could tell younger Nick is to open a share portfolio and start investing sooner and not be afraid to ask more questions.

“I am a Portfolio Manager because it allows me to analyse situations and making decision based on that. Making clients’ money grow, help grow their wealth and learning about topics across the board from the airline industry to pet healthcare to streaming, it helps develop my knowledge and that excites me”.  

Nick is a member of the investment teams responsible for managing Sasfin’s Global Equity and Innovation portfolios. You can access the latest Innovation Portfolio review here. For more information on the Innovation Portfolio, watch Nick explain it on this video.

As we finish our coffees, he leaves me with one final piece of advice for anyone seeking to be a Portfolio Manager. “If you are only putting in 8 hours of work a day, you will not make it. To be successful in this industry a 10-hour workday is the minimum – and you have to use the time productively! Open a share portfolio and start trading as soon as possible. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to get assistance if you are unsure of something. Be confident and bold in order to stand out from the crowd and develop your own brand and style. Make as many connections as possible (LinkedIn or other social media, attend industry events etc) and make yourself available to others – the most unexpected person may become your biggest client one day. Develop your people skills and be adaptable to be able to communicate effectively with colleagues and clients.”

Side note, if Nick wasn’t a Portfolio Manager, he’d be an architect.

About the Author

Ntombifuthi Ntanzi
Content & PR Specialist, Sasfin Wealth

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