If you had asked 18-year-old John Oliphant what an actuary did, he would have offered a smile instead of an answer. Growing up in Parys, Oliphant was never exposed to anything beyond his township school syllabus. With hard work and an academic scholarship, Oliphant worked his way through a BSc in advanced mathematics of finance to head up Quant Investing at Stanlib, where his funds and management style earned him industry recognition. Today, 30-year-old Oliphant heads up the largest pension fund in Africa, having grown its assets from R620-billion in 2008 to over R1-trillion, during the economic crisis. His secret? Knowing 350 000 pensioners rely on him to invest their hard-earned money. It’s no wonder he’s a firm believer in responsible investing and serves on the advisory council of the United Nations- backed Principles for Responsible Investment. He may be a big deal and report to Parliament but Oliphant knows who his real boss is — the pensioner.
— Cat Pritchard