Mothobi Seseli (centre), chief executive of Argon Asset Management and guest speaker at the Cape Times breakfast event at the Table Bay hotel on Wednesday, shares a light moment with Cape Times live editor Liesl van der Scyff and Cape Times news Editor Quinton Mtyala. Picture: Ian Landsberg
Cape Town - Mothobi Seseli came from humble beginnings in Soweto to head one of the leading black-owned asset management companies in South Africa.

On Wednesday Seseli, who is Argon Asset Management chief executive, was the main speaker at the Cape Times breakfast held at the Table Bay Hotel, recounting the early days when he and a few partners decided to strike out on their own.

“I always had an entrepreneurial spirit, I always had the self determination (as a child). I had previously started ventures while I was in my twenties,” said Seseli.

He worked in the financial services industry for several years, with a Masters qualification in economics along with several postgraduate qualifications from the universities of Oxford and Stanford.

Currently Argon manages R32 billion in assets since its start in April 2005 when it had zero assets under management.

Speaking at the breakfast, Seseli said much more needed to be done to open up the financial services industry which was still closed to black participants.

Seseli was also critical of South Africa’s banks for not supporting fledgling small businesses.

He said one of his company’s biggest successes had been the training of young black graduates, pointing out that recently the company’s search for four trainees had yielded over 100 applicants. The company eventually hired eight trainees.

“The one way of transforming our space is flooding the industry with as many young graduates as possible,” said Seseli.

Focusing on South Africa’s underlying problems, Seseli said the country had too many people with too little to lose.

“We haven’t managed our risk responsibly,” said Seseli.

While the government was responsible, he said the private sector who invested in South African society had the most to lose.

“Government has a role to play but the private sector is the biggest enabler. What keeps me awake at night is what our country looks like five years from now,” said Seseli.

Cape Times