Streaming issues? Report here
Pippa Hudson 2019 1500 BW 2
Lunch with Pippa Hudson
13:00 - 15:00
volume_up
volume_mute

Up Next: Afternoon Drive with John Maytham
See full line-up
Lunch with Pippa Hudson
13:00 - 15:00
Home
arrow_forward
Business
arrow_forward
Lifestyle

SA’s richest woman opens up about being a refugee and becoming a billionaire

20 August 2019 7:31 PM
Tags:
Money
The Money Show
Bruce Whitfield
Poland
Make Money Mondays
Sygnia
Magda Wierzycka
refugee
money beliefs
Sygnia Asset Management
Sygnia chief executive Magda Wierzycka
make money mondays personal edition
Sygnia Group
polish
Magda Wierzycka – Sygnia’s renegade CEO – on her attitude toward money (hopes and fears, successes and failures, etc.).
Sygnia CEO Magda Wierzycka. Picture: @Magda_Wierzycka/Twitter.

As much as I’ve had a tough childhood, I’ve also been incredibly lucky in life…

Magda Wierzycka, CEO - Sygnia

I only invest in Sygnia products and I only invest in passive products…. Since I’ve started working; 20% of my salary goes into retirement savings… Right from the age of 24… invest and forget!

Magda Wierzycka, CEO - Sygnia

I live on debt, which is a terrible thing to admit… The difference between paper wealth and cashflow wealth is quite material…

Magda Wierzycka, CEO - Sygnia

Every week The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews a famous person about her or his attitude toward money (hopes and fears, successes and failures, etc.) as part of his “Make Money Mondays, Personal Edition” feature.

This week he interviewed Sygnia’s renegade CEO and anti-corruption activist, Magda Wierzycka.

She arrived in South Africa as a 13-year-old refugee from communist Poland and rose to the very top of the male-dominated world of finance.

…I spent about a year in a refugee camp - very much like the pictures you see of Syrian refugees… arrived in South Africa not speaking the language and with no money whatsoever…

Magda Wierzycka, CEO - Sygnia

When Wierzycka was still at school in Pretoria, she worked at a supermarket to help her family make ends meet.

She struggled with English, but excelled in maths and science, and earned herself a bursary to study actuarial science.

Wierzycka cofounded Sygnia Group and became its CEO in 2006.

Sygnia is a leader among asset managers in South Africa when it comes to the provision of low-cost, passively managed investments.

The financial services industry in South Africa spends enormous amounts of money making sure (financial) literacy is kept at a very low level… So the amount of jargon that is used, the amount of emotive advertising to make you believe fairy tales is enormous…

Magda Wierzycka, CEO - Sygnia

Wierzycka is by some estimates the richest woman in South Africa.

…South Africa has been very good to me and I am a proud South African rather than being a very proud Polish person which I'm not…

Magda Wierzycka, CEO - Sygnia
  • What does Wierzycka believe about money?

  • Does it keep her up at night?

  • Does she spend like crazy or save compulsively?

  • How did her childhood experiences shape her views on money?

Listen to the interview in the audio below (and scroll down for more quotes from it).

In Poland, everyone had the same. Which wasn’t very much… It [fleeing Poland] was a very traumatic moment… There are scars you have for the rest of your life…

Magda Wierzycka, CEO - Sygnia

He [Iqbal Survé] has never sued anybody in his life! I’m suing him!... I put my money where my mouth is. I don’t think he does… If I win anything, I’ll donate it to the GEPF (Government Employees Pension Fund), which he is stripping bare.

Magda Wierzycka, CEO - Sygnia

He [Mzi Khumalo] exposed me to the politics of this country… He told me a lot about Zuma. He told me a lot about Mandela… He lives in London now, because Zuma drove him out of South Africa… He’s been a pivotal figure in my life.

Magda Wierzycka, CEO - Sygnia

I don’t actually think about money…

Magda Wierzycka, CEO - Sygnia

I like nice clothes… I love online shopping…

Magda Wierzycka, CEO - Sygnia

I don’t have a huge attachment to material things… We live in an apartment…

Magda Wierzycka, CEO - Sygnia

Money is a great enabler. I have been to every corner of the globe from Antarctica to the Galapagos Islands…

Magda Wierzycka, CEO - Sygnia

I like art… We don’t buy anything complex…

Magda Wierzycka, CEO - Sygnia

Bitcoin! Bitcoin! Bitcoin! Bitcoin! [When asked if she’s ever wasted money in her life.] I bought my first Bitcoin at $4000 and my last Bitcoin at $18 000…. I was completely caught up in Tulip Mania…. I don’t care what it is; I’ve lost so much money!

Magda Wierzycka, CEO - Sygnia

Get the 10 most-read articles of the week from Bruce Whitfield’s The Money Show, emailed to you every Friday morning:

Subscribe to our Business Wrap Newsletter


This article first appeared on 702 : SA’s richest woman opens up about being a refugee and becoming a billionaire


20 August 2019 7:31 PM
Tags:
Money
The Money Show
Bruce Whitfield
Poland
Make Money Mondays
Sygnia
Magda Wierzycka
refugee
money beliefs
Sygnia Asset Management
Sygnia chief executive Magda Wierzycka
make money mondays personal edition
Sygnia Group
polish

More from Make Money Mondays

191007-david-scott-kiffnessjpg

I see money as energy – David Scott, The Kiffness

19 November 2019 1:47 PM

The new billionaire is not the person with a billion rand, but the person who can touch a billion people’s lives, says Scott.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

140815jean.jpg

'All South Africans who can, must give. It’s our responsibility and privilege'

5 November 2019 12:56 PM

Bruce Whitfield interviews former Springbok captain Jean de Villiers about his attitude to money and beliefs about it.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

Sandile Zungu

'I want to ensure my money delivers change to as many people as possible'

22 October 2019 12:57 PM

Black Business Council president Sandile Zungu on his attitude toward money (hopes and fears, successes and failures, etc.).

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

Basetsana Kumalo

'We discuss stocks and options with our children at the dinner table'

17 October 2019 1:51 PM

Bruce Whitfield interviews Basetsana Kumalo about her attitude to money (hopes and fears, successes and failures, etc.).

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

180323 Cape Town International Jazz Festival 2018 5

'I’m very conscious about how I spend. I don’t buy fancy cars. I buy bargains'

14 October 2019 11:07 AM

Bruce Whitfield interviews Sipho Hotstix Mabuse about his attitude toward money (hopes and fears, successes and failures, etc.).

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

RJ Benjamin

My dad’s life was cut short. A big part of it was money - RJ Benjamin

8 October 2019 12:02 PM

Bruce Whitfield interviews RJ Benjamin about his attitude to money (hopes and fears, successes and failures, etc.).

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

nicola kleyn cyril ramaphosa

'My mom was passionate about investing. We listened to share prices every day'

7 October 2019 12:00 PM

The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews Prof Nicola Kleyn (Gibs) about her attitude toward money and beliefs about it.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

Leanne Manas

Money and love inspire me to get up at 3am every morning - Leanne Manas

1 October 2019 1:16 PM

Bruce Whitfield interviews Morning Live anchor Leanne Manas about her attitude to money (hopes and fears, successes and failures).

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

LIRA-FRIDAY-STAND-IN

'I've been poor. I remember the angst, the depression'

30 September 2019 9:39 AM

The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews Lira about her attitude to money (hopes and fears, successes and failures, etc.).

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

retirementjpg

'Old Mutual claimed they were the cheapest. They were the most expensive!'

25 September 2019 10:23 AM

Personal Finance's retired founding editor Bruce Cameron on his attitude toward money (hopes and fears, successes and failures...)

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward