Frank Magwegwe is an entrepreneur, personal finance and employee financial wellness expert, active citizen, and business speaker whose work has been recognized by many esteemed organizations. A lifelong learner, Frank is reading for his doctorate in financial planning at Kansas State University.
In 1992, Frank was homeless, broke and unemployed.
Frank’s first business was selling fruit and vegetables in Johannesburg CBD. Through this business Frank “beat the odds” and “escaped” homelessness. Not all of Frank’s business ventures have been a success. His second business, Foremost Futures, a derivatives trading and structuring business folded within 12 months back in 2002.
A decade after “beating the odds” and “escaping” homelessness, Frank had completed a BSc and first class BSc with honours at Wits University and MSc with distinction at University of Pretoria.
Finding that his own values aligned more with the guardianship of assets than proprietary trading at a bank, Frank joined Coronation Fund Managers. Later he joined Investment Solutions as Head of Institutional Business in 2007. During that time he trained pension fund trustees in basic investment skills and began his studies for his Certified Financial Planner certification. The shift in the application of his expertise in derivatives trading to the financial wellness of the ordinary man was a progression on the journey to finding purpose.
Executive positions at Momentum followed – CEO Momentum Administration Services, COO: Momentum Wealth and segment CEO for Momentum Middle Market. In these roles, Frank consistently applied his talent for motivating people, improving employee engagement and building teams.
A pitstop in his life journey saw Frank completing the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School during 2013. Inspired by the work of Professor Clay Christensen on purpose described in his book How Will You Measure Your Life During this time, on his return to South Africa, Frank established Inspire Belief, a non-profit organisation with a mission to drive social change by igniting educational opportunities for students in poor communities – recognising that education unlocks opportunity which unlocks personal wealth which incrementally unlocks the shackles of poverty and is a bridge to a better life.
Frank’s story is about the journey from invisible to invincible, resilience, resourcefulness, hope, courage, compassion, persistence, purpose and above all the power of the human spirit described by Dr Sherwin Nuland, author and surgeon as follows:
“By the human spirit, what I mean is the ability that each one of us has to be something greater than herself or himself; to arise out of our ordinary lives and achieve something that at the beginning we thought perhaps we were not capable of.”
Trusted Financial Wellness Expert
My Money Story
Overcoming the greatest challenges, I have ever faced in my life – unemployed, broke and homeless at 22, taught me to look at the world in unusual ways. A few years later, after “beating the odds” and “escaping homelessness,” I had my first class Honours degree in Advanced Maths of Finance and a good job at an asset management company earning R44,000 per year – more money than my father who by then had been working for 30 years. When I graduated from Wits University, I was pretty sure I knew… well, just about everything to know about financial markets – after all I had an Honours degree in Advanced Maths of Finance. “It’s hard not to have confidence when during the year I completed my Honours, we were bombarded with news of the “tonnes of cash” we would make trading derivatives because of the sought after, challenging degree that would turn us into “rocket scientists.”
With my knowledge of “just about everything in financial markets,” I started trading shares with no capital since at the time settlement on the stock exchange was nearly a week from day of trade. The strategy was simple – buy a share whose share price would be up in next few days, sell when price is right and make “risk free” money. A few trades that went my way led to overconfidence in my trading abilities to pick the winners. I told myself that I have got this trading thing in the bag. I felt I was invincible.
Financial Mistakes Were Made (By me)
Then one day I lost R20 000, 45% of my annual gross income after being forced to liquidate Mouldmed Medical Supplies at settlement day! Naturally, I was entirely unprepared for this turn of events. Not only did I have to tell my wife of 3 months of this disaster, I had to find the money. This experience led to my first and only encounter with loan sharks. The balance of the money came through a loan at prime plus 4% with the prime interest rate at 22% in March 1998! Because of these financial mistakes, those early working years involved huge and high interest clothes accounts, renting a TV from Teljoy, pap and chicken livers dinners sitting on Clover milk crates and a sponge mattress bed. In the end, it was worth it because as we slowly climbed out of debt, we learnt many invaluable lessons about money and ourselves that with hindsight set the foundation for a better relationship with money and regularly discussing money as a couple.
Other financial mistakes followed – maxed credit cards, living on revolving credit plans and overdraft, and buying cars I didn’t afford. Sometimes genuine success can lead to an inflated ego – sot it was with me. By 2000, I was Vice President for Derivatives Trading at an investment bank and my “talent” for making money convinced me once again that I was invincible. When fellow traders kept on telling me constantly, “You are a legend and are amazing,” it became difficult to keep myself in check. I left the bank, used all my savings to setup Foremost Futures and within a year, the company had failed and I was broke. To make matters worse, we had decided that my wife stay at home to look after our first child. It is often said time and life are often natural cures for overconfidence. Broke and unemployed in 2002, I had reached yet another crossroads in my life. I chose the road of managing my money better and so began a journey to understand at a deeper level the money mistakes I made, and a passion to help others avoid the same mistakes.
The short version of the story is that financial mistakes partly due to overconfidence and partly due to my “money story” caused our young family, over the course of five years to experience booms and busts with our finances and nearly lost everything in 2002.
Becoming an Expert
After the experience of nearly losing everything, I set out on a quest to find out how money really works, how I could take control of it, and how I could handle it wisely. I studied further – Financial Risk Manager, Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst, Certified Financial Planner, Advanced Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Planning and I read as many personal finance books as I could get my hands on. My quest continued as I helped people from all walks of life as a financial planner and managed nearly 200 financial advisers. I came to realize that most people learn to manage through trial and error and from observing their parents and making the same mistake as them. Furthermore, every person has a unique money story – their conscious and often unconscious relationship with money. This relationship, the longest relationship people have in their lives and one they can’t separate or be divorced from drives their financial behaviour.
My quest continues as an entrepreneur and doctoral student in financial planning at Kansas State University. It is now about partnering individuals and organisations for financial wellness.
Since 2003, Frank has been teaching people how to be smarter with their money. Since 2011, Frank has become a nationally renowned speaker, he has spoken around the country to audiences ranging in size from as few as 50 to over 3 000 people. Each year Frank delivers 50+ keynote addresses. His keynotes include:
Life. Obstacles. You. ™
Life. Change. You. ™
Life. Purpose. You. ™
Life. Money. You. ™
Frank has delivered addresses to audiences including Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, Bradlows, Harvard Business School, Henley Business School, Heron Bridge College, Milpark Business School, South African Reserve Bank, Standard Bank Group, The Insurance Institute of South Africa 2016 conference, Insure Group Managers, TEDx Cape Town, TEDx Stellenbosch, Unilever, United Nations World Food Programme and 5th Annual Harvard Crossroads Conference (Dubai).
In November 2016, Frank was #FridayStandIn for the Redi Thlabi Show on 702 and Cape Talk and in January 2017 he was #MoneyShowStandIn for Bruce Whitfield.
Certified Financial Planner
Frank is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional. This means he has achieved and maintains internationally recognized financial planning standards of knowledge, skills, abilities and ethics. The CFP designation is a recognized internationally for excellence in financial planning and provides assurance to consumers that the design of their financial future rests with an appropriately qualified professional who will put clients’ interests ahead of their own.
Frank offers independent financial planning that puts you in the driving seat with your finances allowing you to achieve financial wellness that will give you peace of mind about your finances. Frank believes uncovering your “money story” or “money mindset” and what you hold most dear is the foundation for a financial plan that puts you in the driving seat with your finances. Frank goes beyond the numbers by discussing some big questions that typically people think separately from their financial planning like: “What is your purpose?,” “How do you define success,” or “If you has all the money you need, what would you be doing with your life?”
Frank is reading for a PhD in Financial Planning at Kansas State University, Kansas, USA. My research broadly focuses on financial wellness and the influence of social comparison “a.k.a keeping with the Jones” on financial behaviours such as retirement planning and saving. Financial wellness is defined as a “comprehensive, multidimensional concept incorporating financial satisfaction, objective status of financial situation, financial attitudes, and behaviour.” During my third year of the degree in 2017, for example, I am focusing on financial planning and counselling. In the next few years, I am looking forward to producing a dissertation that will contribute to financial planning from both a theoretical and practical angle, looking at the influence of social comparison on financial behaviours.
To Frank, active citizenship matters and its essence is captured by these words of Chilean poet and Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda:
“To feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weaknesses — that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens out the boundaries of our being, and unites all living things.”
Active citizenship is a combination of knowledge, attitude, skills and actions that is harnessed to contribute to building and maintaining a healthy society, especially a young democracy like South Africa. Simply put, active citizenship means people getting involved in their local communities, from towns to cities to nationwide, in activities as small as a campaign to clean up their street or as big as running a not-for-profit organisation. During the time Frank was completing the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School (HBS), it dawned on him that HBS had offered him a “pitstop” to “purpose.” This realization strengthened Frank’s desire to enrich the educational opportunities of youth in disadvantaged communities– recognising that education is the bridge to a better life for these youth since it unlocks opportunities that break the shackles of poverty. On his return to South Africa, Frank started Inspire Belief, a not-for-profit with a mission aligned to this purpose.
Unemployed and broke
Almost became a farm-worker
Barman at Kirkwood Hotel
Fired for drinking on the job
Unemployed, broke and homeless
Unemployed, broke and homeless
Fruit and vegetable vendor
Fruit and vegetable business
Hello Wits University
Equity derivatives trader
Founded Foremost Futures (Pty) Ltd
Foremost Futures (Pty) Ltd fails
Unemployed and broke
Head: Derivatives Trading & Structuring
Business development – asset management
Head of institutional business: asset management
CEO: linked investment services provider
COO: wealth business
Segment CEO: retail insurance
AMP (Harvard Business School)
Founded Frankly Speaking Group (Pty) Ltd
Regular media appearances