Poster child of responsible investor activism
Andrew Canter, this year’s Absa Business Leadership Award – From COVID to Hope winner, isn’t scared to risk raising issues that should be raised and dealing with them, according to those who know him well.
Canter, the executive director and chief investment officer of Futuregrowth Asset Management, is described by those who know him as “deeply passionate about Futuregrowth’s clients” and “the poster child of responsible investor activism in South Africa”.
He is recognised for calling out state-owned enterprises (SOEs) for their poor governance practices and defending his company’s stance on withdrawing funding from South Africa’s SOEs in 2016.
“When we made the decision not to fund SOEs, he didn’t step down and let people get away with what was untruth,” says Paul Rackstraw, the managing director of Futuregrowth. “He challenged every single point. That just goes to his very character, every little bit counts for him. Andrew isn’t scared to take personal risk in terms of raising issues that should be raised in society and dealt with.”
Selwyn Kahlberg, chief operations officer of the Discovery Health Medical Scheme, says, “I’ve always seen Andrew as somebody who is extremely courageous. He knows what he stands for. When he sees an injustice or something that needs to change, he calls it out. Not only does he call it out, but he knows what needs to be done in order to affect change. As a client, that’s critical to us because we know that Andrew is looking after our best interests.”
Canter’s ability to face adversity and stand up for what he believes in is probably the most important quality that one should possess in the fiduciary industry, especially when you’re looking after other people’s money, says Khaya Gobodo, the managing director of Old Mutual Investments.
Muitheri Wahome of the Asset Management Research Institute says that Futuregrowth and Canter have contributed to ensuring the growth of sustainable investment. “The firm that Andrew and his team has built over the past 21 years is the repository of rising talent in impact investing in South Africa,” she said. “It’s the place where industry peers go to unearth talent. This business and Andrew have made a particular contribution to the growth of investment professionals in investing sustainably for impact.”
Justin Blend, the director of Africrest Properties, says, “I’ve always admired Andrew for being a unique individual, doing things his way, and not being afraid to fight for what’s right.”
On receiving the award, Canter said, “Winning an award like this is a moment to pause and reflect because in the investment business, there’s no finish line. The successes of last week can easily be messed up tomorrow. Situations change, the world changes. When you look smart yesterday, you look dumb tomorrow. So moments like this, being given an award, being given recognition, are a valued opportunity to pause and say, ‘Thank you.’”