Johan van Zyl: How SA can deal with massive volatility

Sanlam CEO Johan van Zyl.
Sanlam CEO Johan van Zyl.

Cape Town - South Africa is likely to experience much more turbulence to come, but this also provides opportunities for entrepreneurs to make money, according to strategic adviser and former Sanlam CEO Johan van Zyl.

He referred to what he describes as massive volatility in the world and markets - at the moment - which are busy with a correction.

"Change is universal and like Warren Buffett said we have to hold onto our hats as it is likely to be a wild ride. Those who manage to hold on, however, could make it," said Van Zyl at a Nedbank VinPro information day held in Cape Town this week. VinPro is the service organisation for 3 600 SA wine producers and cellar members.

"Instead of looking at change as a difficulty, look at it as an opportunity. Without change you do not get opportunity and without risk you cannot make money," explained Van Zyl. "You cannot be an entrepreneur without taking a risk. Profits are compensation for taking a risk."

Of course one needs to be sure that your plan avoids massive risks, he cautioned. It is more about minimising risk, but also maximising profit.

He warned, however, that not everybody will make money out of these kinds of opportunities created by change.

For Van Zyl it is, therefore, very important "to have a plan".

"Change provides lots of opportunities, but you need a plan and you must implement it within the risks you can stomach. If you don't have a plan, get one. If you do have a plan, stick to basic sound principles," he suggested. In his view it is also important to get the right partner if need be.

"You have to be practical and have common sense. Unfortunately, common sense is not always that common," he said.

"Like in cricket you cannot try and hit each ball for a six. You need a strategy. It is about willingness and the ability to take risk. Often the worst strategy is to abandon your plan half way through."

In his view it is better, if one has a plan that is well thought through, to stick to it.

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