Magnus Heystek’s success story and how he outfoxed the Oppenheimers

Magnus Heystek is a household name in investment circles. He is one of the most quoted wealth managers and is known for his honest and straightforward financial advice.

Heystek is the co-founder of Brenthurst Wealth Management, where he is in charge of investment strategies, research, and client communication.

His path to running one of South Africa’s top wealth managers started five decades ago in the media industry.

Heystek started his career as an investment journalist with Beeld in 1976 after he completed his BA (Hons) degree from RAU, now known as the University of Johannesburg.

His journalism career blossomed, and he later served as business and investment editor of The Star newspaper in 1986.

During his journalism career, he regularly visited international investment conferences, including meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

His interest in investing grew, and he founded The Star Investors Club, which he ran for ten years until 1998 when he sold his investment business to Citadel.

Heystek founded Brenthurst with Brian Butchart and Sue Heystek in 2004. At the time, it was a 3-person team with no clients working from a small office in Fourways, Johannesburg.

The company has shown exceptional growth and now employs 60 people, has 8 offices in South Africa, and has one international office in Mauritius.

Brenthurst Wealth manages R17 bn on behalf of its clients and has focused strongly on investing offshore with significant success.

Brenthurst ranked amongst South Africa’s leading boutique wealth managers for seven consecutive years in the Intellidex Private Bank and Wealth Manager awards.

Daily Investor’s 2024 South African Investor Report showed that Brenthurst had the strongest brand among boutique wealth managers in South Africa.

Striking it lucky – and a great decision to look at international investments

Brenthurst Wealth Management director Magnus Heystek

Heystek told It’s My Money by Strictly Business that it was fortuitous that Brenthurst Wealth was founded in 2004.

It was the start of a big bull market in South Africa, bolstered by one of the biggest commodity upcycles in history.

The bull market continued for around four to five years, and Brenthurst invested in great funds, including John Biccard’s Value Fund.

Biccard’s fund returned over 40% per year for multiple years. “Our assets grew very quickly,” Heystek said.

It was a time when it made sense to be entirely invested in the local market. There was no reason to take money offshore.

The JSE, the rand, and the South African property market were booming simultaneously. There was also euphoria around hosting the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

However, it did not last. The financial crisis destroyed global markets and Jacob Zuma became the ANC and South Africa’s president.

The devastation of the Zuma years quickly became evident, and the commodity cycle turned downwards in 2011 and 2012.

“We started to follow local politics closely and saw the signs of state capture, political greed, and institutional collapse early,” he said.

“We realised this environment was not conducive to long-term investment and safeguarding our clients’ wealth.”

Heystek and his team looked elsewhere for good returns for their clients. It partnered with some of the biggest fund managers in the world, including Franklin Templeton, Fidelity, and Vanguard.

Brenthurst also established two offshore funds: the Brenthurst Global Balanced Fund and the Brenthurst Global Equity Fund.

Through these initiatives, Brenthurst benefitted from the decade-long bull cycle in US technology shares.

“It turned out to be a great decision. We are pleased to see so many asset managers now advise their clients to move money offshore,” he said.

Outfoxing the Oppenheimer family for the Brenthurst name

Harry Oppenheimer in the Brenthurst Library

The Brenthurst name has a strong connection with the Oppenheimer family, synonymous with the De Beers diamond fortune.

The late Harry Oppenheimer’s residence was called Little Brenthurst. The family also sponsors the Brenthurst Foundation, Brenthurst Clinic, and Brenthurst Library. 

It raises the question of how Heystek could name his company Brenthurst Wealth without facing legal action from the powerful family.

Heystek said when he was considering using Brenthurst as his company name, he checked whether the trademark was registered.

He found that Brenthurst was not trademarked, and he immediately registered it. He became the official trademark holder of the Brenthurst name.

It was not long before he received a cease-and-desist legal letter from the Oppenheimer family instructing him to stop using the Brenthurst name.

“I politely sent them the registration documents and didn’t hear a word from them again,” Heystek said.

He joked, “If they did not like us using the Brenthurst name, they could have sent us a big cheque to change it. It did not happen. They may have had a cash flow problem at the time”.


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