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Ryk and Alwyn:
how to get to gold

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SPW Contributors

Sanlam Private Wealth

Olympic swimming gold medallist Ryk Neethling and our own Director of Investments Alwyn van der Merwe shared a podium recently – at an exclusive event hosted by Sanlam Private Wealth at the Val de Vie estate in the Paarl Franschhoek Valley. A select group of Sanlam Private Wealth clients, Val de Vie residents and members of the estate’s polo club heard Ryk and Alwyn share their stories and views on what it takes to get to the top of your game, and to stay there.


Ryk Neethling, Marketing Director at Val de Vie

To reach the pinnacle of success requires skill, dedication, patience, hard-earned experience and meticulous attention to detail. Alwyn explained how the same traits that took Ryk – one of the most accomplished swimmers in history – to world records and Olympic gold, have also consistently kept Sanlam Private Wealth at the top of its class.

Ryk, now the Marketing Director of Val de Vie, shared his inspirational story of perseverance, which started when he nearly drowned at age five in his home city of Bloemfontein, all the way to the gold medal podium at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, and beyond.

‘I like to call my Olympic medals a 20-year overnight success. I competed for South Africa for the first time when I was 14, and over the span of my international career, I think I trained for around 70 000km! Each and every stroke took me closer to my goal.’

Ryk stressed the importance of striving for continuous improvement, whether in the sports arena or in the world of business. ‘Soon after our relay team got off the podium in Athens, we were already thinking about how we could improve,’ he said, adding that the team at Val de Vie was also continuously enhancing the estate’s offering to existing and prospective residents.

‘Val de Vie is now a 1 000ha estate that 1 500 families call home. We have three restaurants, a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course, three polo fields and a wine farm. We’ve also recently launched a lifestyle retirement village – Val de Vie Evergreen – with 400 homes and 200 apartments, and a full frail care facility. Phase 1 is 90% sold out, and the first residents will occupy their homes on 1 July this year.’

Alwyn told the audience that in the same way consistent practice – with a focus on making every stroke a perfect one – took an aspiring swimming champion to the top, long-term dedication and consistency were essential for successful investing.

‘Our race conditions are a bit different to what Ryk might be used to – the waters in which we compete are often choppy, influenced by cross-currents and of uneven temperature – but just as a champion swimmer has a certain unwavering strategy for success, so we at Sanlam Private Wealth have a particular philosophy when we approach our clients’ investments.’


Alwyn van der Merwe, Director of Investments at Sanlam Private Wealth

Alwyn said this investment philosophy rests on three pillars: price, perspective and pattern. ‘We believe the price of an asset is the dominant factor driving investment performance over the longer term. The correct perspective is also crucial – we can’t forecast the future, but we do endeavour to understand the context of the investment environment and the assets we invest in, well. We also look to the past to identify patterns – more often than not, we can identify in previous periods circumstances similar to those affecting an asset or its price today.’

The results of this philosophy, applied consistently over the long term, speak for themselves, he added. ‘Our customised local and global equity, multi-asset and offshore portfolios have a strong record of “podium performance” over the long term.’

If you’d like to speak to a Sanlam Private Wealth portfolio or wealth manager about a customised solution to grow and preserve your wealth – now and for generations to come – contact us on +27 21 950 2770 or let us contact you.

If you require further information about the wide range of lifestyle offerings at Val de Vie, email or call +27 21 863 6100.

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