It still amazes her today that she was a consultant to the likes of BP and Shell pension funds, “and grown men were listening to a 25year-old woman telling them how to invest their money”.
In time she became CEO of African Harvest and there, between 2003 and 2006, she grew the assets under management of the company from R10 billion to R35 billion.
In 2006, she led a management buyout of part of the African Harvest Group to form Sygnia.
“After the transaction, all we had were a couple of clients, a team of about seven and a great admin system.”
Sygnia analysed what was on offer in South Africa “and decided companies were all offering similar investment products”.
“We resolved to enter the space offering the same products at lower fees, costs and charges, customising investment strategies for pension funds.”
In 2012, Sygnia decided to enter the individual savings space by launching the lowest-cost savings and investment products in South Africa at a fee of just 0.4% per annum. “This was a radical saving to the consumer and we thought that nobody in SA could match it.
“If they started launching unit trusts at 0.4% then they would cannibalise their existing client base that was happy paying 1.5% in fees and costs.”
The husband of this mother of teen sons used to lead tough adventure trips through Africa. Not surprisingly, he has taken his family on trips to the Galapagos, both poles and the Amazon.
Wierzycka relaxes “with two hours of gym first thing each morning” and once trained by running on a tiny airstrip in the middle of the Amazon jungle.