We live in a world where investing is becoming ever more accessible and of lower cost.
In a country like South Africa — where equities have had several lean years — investors are also paying more attention than ever before to their portfolios and their returns.
In the search for yield, one investment category that is grabbing more attention is the fastest-growing asset class in SA, Section 12J.
Section 12J is woven into SA’s Income Tax Act and enables investors to provide much-needed capital to SMEs. In return, investors receive an immediate tax deduction equal to 100% of the amount they’ve invested. As of February 2019, in excess of R8 billion had been invested in Section 12J funds in SA.
Making Section 12J count
With this growth, a key challenge has been the fact that there are over 160 Section 12J investment opportunities available in SA.
Any large wealth institution that wants to access just one of these opportunities would have to spend significant time and resources on due diligence. These institutions then further face a diversification dilemma, as they can’t just opt for one or two 12J investments.
In a bid to solve this problem, a team consisting of some of SA’s most prominent and reputable business people launched the country’s first-ever portfolio of Section 12J fund offering, MeTTa Capital Moderate Risk Fund I.
Since 2017, MeTTa Capital has conducted several capital raises. During the most recent capital raise for the period ending February 2019, its investment committee, headed by Dr Adrian Saville, conducted a strenuous due-diligence process evaluating over 110 Section 12J companies, filtering it down to a basket of six market-leading investment strategies.
A fundamental criterion for inclusion on MeTTa Capital’s platform is a responsible and reasonable fee structure that a VCC charges its investors.
The end result is that for just R500 000, MeTTa Capital investors can own shares within multiple Section 12J VCCs, bypassing these funds’ own minimum investment limits. Investors who invest with MeTTa Capital further have access to a transparent and market-leading post-investment reporting service.
Since 2017, MeTTa Capital has raised over R50 million for SMEs using this model. The SMEs operate in sectors ranging from hospitality, student accommodation, agriculture and even the fast-growing renewable energy space.
A strong alternative for financial advisors and their clients
At a time when financial advisors are under pressure to prove their value to clients, 12J can become a viable alternative.
Because the 12J space is highly regulated and audited, it is equivalent in many ways to the listed small-caps space in South Africa.
The 12J industry has also been maturing rapidly with an ever-growing array of options for the investor — options that suit a more moderate risk appetite into attractive sectors of the economy.
Again, MeTTa Capital is a perfect example of this as it is a moderate risk fund of funds that is similar to a unit trust or mutual fund. Using this approach, MeTTa Capital allows investors, through a single entry point, to invest in a basket of market-leading Section 12J companies — at no additional fees.
It’s clear then that rather looking to cash, or offshore options, financial advisors and wealth managers can offer their client base an alternative, tax-efficient 12J product that is diversified and well-regulated.
There’s no doubt that the next big wave for 12J investments will come from forward-thinking wealth institutions who look to offer bespoke solutions to their clients that allow them to maximise the high yielding opportunities in this space.
Section 12J has the potential to create a win-win situation for all, and it’s time that local investors start considering it more seriously.