Jonathan Polin, group CEO of Sanlam UK, talks to Lauren Mason about the group's recent flurry of acquisitions, plans regarding the UK arm of the business and his concerns over a no-deal Brexit.
"Sanlam UK does not want to have the 'biggest and best' wealth business in the UK. That is not the aim," the group's CEO Jonathan Polin explains at their office in Monument Street, commenting on a series of acquisitions made by the firm this year, which included buying Thesis Asset Management in April.
The purchase of Thesis, which has several offices around the UK, brought an extra £1.2bn of assets under management to the table for Sanlam UK, which now manages £4.2bn of private client discretionary assets alone.
Globally, Sanlam manages more than £42bn for 15,000 customers - a far cry from the firm's humble beginnings as a team of seven in Cape Town more than 100 years ago.
Now, Polin says, the aim is to continue nurturing the UK arm of the business - launching new products and expanding the firm's capabilities - while, most importantly, offering a "very credible business that can stand on its own two feet in its domestic market" that also provides a safe home for clients' offshore assets.
"A lot of people want to have more offshore exposure now than they ever have done. We see that increasing over the next four to five years, in particular," he says.
"If the asset management business is going to be selling products into the client base in Africa, they cannot feel as though they are getting pushed into investing here because we happen to have the resources.
"It has to be a business they feel can deliver the quality, and deliver the returns, that their clients expect."
As such, Polin says Sanlam UK's acquisitions over the years have been very carefully selected with a focus on quality.
He describes 2016 - his first full year at the company's helm - as the year of "bringing things together through little changes", while in 2017, the focus was on finding a new platform for the company's wealth and financial planning businesses.
"It was a year of really proving that vertical integration works," he explains. "We had a massively great year - particularly in the financial advice world - and the referral rate to our DFM business went up significantly.
"Why? It's simple. It is because they were sitting together so they could understand each other, and the planners could see the benefit of offering named portfolio managers to their larger clients."
The CEO describes this period of time as the company's "transformation journey", having first purchased smaller firms to get Sanlam UK "acquisition ready".
These included Yorkshire-based financial planners Grennan Advisors and Blackett Water in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
Then, at the start of this year, the company acquired chartered financial planning business Astute Wealth Management.
The hefty purchase of Thesis followed some months after, and the firm's latest acquisition was less than two weeks ago when they bought a 55% stake in Cheshire-based independent financial planning business Avidus Scott Lang, doubling Sanlam's footprint in northern England.