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Sanlam Group celebrates its 100th birthday - here's what they've been up to

Sanlam Group celebrates its 100th birthday - here's what they've been up to

Sanlam is celebrating a whopping 100 years tomorrow (Friday 8 June) so rather than wait around for a letter from the Queen, we caught up with the company to see how everyone is celebrating, writes Katie Gilfillan.

In the UK, Sanlam has been a player in the wealth management world for 15 years. Its global heritage started further afield, however, beginning in South Africa as a life insurance company. The global group now operates in 47 countries and employs 15,000 people. In the UK, the firm has 13 offices, looks after £13 billion in assets under management and has established itself as a household name here, as much as it has been in South Africa.

Champagne and breakfast sounds ideal for anyone to wake up to, and Sanlam is no exception. The firm is kicking off its birthday by treating its staff to some lovely goodies at the branches. Following this, the company’s worldwide offices will be brought together by video call on this momentous day with a speech from the global CEO.

Memorable moments

Speaking to three members of the team, I’m sure they have a lot of memorable moments from their time at Sanlam.

 Asking portfolio manager Cynthia Bowring (pictured above) about her big move down to London from the Kirkby Lonsdale office, she explains: ‘It has given me many opportunities, such as being actively involved in the Cascaid Charity last year, which was hugely rewarding.

‘I was also given the opportunity to work in the Cape Town office for six weeks, which is something that not many other firms would be able to offer. It really demonstrates the sheer size of the global firm.’

CIO Philip Smeaton (pictured above), on the other hand, has a different experience: ‘Apart from fluctuating markets and oil prices, the Sevenoaks to London bike ride, I ambitiously signed up to help Cascaid, which definitely sticks out as my most memorable moment!’ he jokes. He tackled a mammoth hill near the start of his cycling journey and says: ‘Needless to say I got the train back.’ 


Sanlam’s South African heritage is a big part of its day to day life. Penny Lovell (pictured below), CEO, Sanlam Private Office, says: ‘This is a fascinating business. Sanlam is the largest collector of South African art in the world.’

You can tell the company is proud of this, bringing its heritage to life in the UK by displaying its vast and beautiful collection along the walls of the offices, as well as in brochures.

Even the distinctive names of the meeting rooms around the office are named after famous African artists, further establishing the firm’s commitment to its African roots.

‘We are lucky enough to sponsor the Royal Academy and we have an art advisory service,’ Lovell explains. ‘We really endeavour to leverage off our heritage and keep the culture alive today.’


After 100 years, there has to be some amazing milestones reached – aside from getting the opportunity to meet with Citywire, of course. When asked, Lovell excitedly responds: ‘We have had lots to celebrate this year: fantastic investment performance, turning 100 and winning eight awards. And we’re only halfway through 2018!’

Smeaton points to an impressive milestone that not many other businesses can brag about: ‘We have been called Sanlam since the very beginning, which is quite unusual amongst all the consolidation we see in the industry. This makes turning 100 under the same name all the more amazing.’

So let’s raise a glass to all of those at Sanlam and cheers to another 100 years, from all of us here at Citywire, happy birthday!

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