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Investment Platforms in SA | LISPS

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A LISP (with capital letters) doesn't refer to a speech impediment, but is South African financial jargon for an investment platform which aims to be a 1-stop shop (cater for all an investor's needs), and where you can:

Having said that, with the same breath it must immediately be added that a LISP does add another layer of fees relative to investing directly, and if you're willing to do the extra admin yourself, it's usually cheaper that way.

Technically speaking, LISP stands for Linked Investment Service Provider, but it's an unfortunate name as it's long-winded & does not tell you much. Rather just think of a LISP as an investment platform.

Beware of Biased Advisors

It's a good idea to get a competent financial advisor to assist you. Beware of advisors who are:

LISP v Direct Investment with an Asset Manager

Legally speaking, a LISP does not manage the underlying investments; but often they are biased towards an asset manager in their wider group.

Investing directly with asset managers is much more admin intensive. If you wanted to switch from investing directly with one asset manager to investing directly with another, you'd need to (1) provide an instruction to disinvest into your bank account, (2) once the money has landed in your bank account, complete the paperwork, and forward it onto the next asset manager.

However, some direct asset managers offer LISP platforms with their funds on it (e.g. Allan Gray), making it possible to switch between managers on their LISP platform.

The decision as to whether to go with a LISP or investing directly; hangs crucially upon: (1) whether the LISP platform offers the underlying portfolios which you want to invest in, (2) whether the LISP offers the portfolios you may in the future want to invest in, (3) whether the LISP offers the legal wrapper you want to use, in particular considering tax (e.g. living annuities), (4) any disinvestment penalties vs other LISP platforms and vs investing directly, (5) the extent to which you're going to want to switch, (6) your willingness to put in the paperwork when you do switch, (7) the fees the LISP charges versus other LISP platforms, and versus investing directly, (8) your willingness to remember seperate passwords, (9) your willingness to have double the work annually when you submit tax information on your investments, and (10) whether you are employing a financial advisor to do some of the work above (which you should be doing) (11) the capability of the LISP platform to carry out its administration accurately (12) the quality and time taken by the LISP to answer queries (13) the time lags in switching between funds (14) interest earned from the point of doing an EFT to the point of investing; from disinvesting to withdrawal, and whilst switching between funds.

The work involved may be dramatically reduced if the LISP you choose is one run by your favourite asset manager (e.g. Allan Gray, Old Mutual, Sanlam, etc...), and the cost impact is often reduced as asset managers usually offer reduced fees for investing in funds which they manage. The route I have chosen is a middle ground, to invest directly and seperately with my 2 favourite managers on each of their LISP platforms. I must with the same breath admit that even with only 2 LISP platforms, it is a pain to remember all the logins and have to extract seperate tax information annually.


Assessing which is the better of 2 LISP pretty much involves comparing the same factors as in the above, in the LISP v Direct Investment exercise.

Many Legal Wrappers

LISPS may be accessed directly, but may also allow investment via:

When signing up with a LISP you'll usually be giving them authorisation to act as your agent and conclude agreements with the relevant parties on your behalf; e.g.:

This saves one the time taken to do the administration of the above yourself.

The LISP itself is regulated by the FAIS Act, and all LISPS must be licensed as Administrative Financial Service Providers with the FSB.

The decision as to which legal wrapper to use depends inter alia upon:


The taxation of your investment will depend on the legal wrapper you have chosen. If you are investing directly via the LISP platform into unit trusts, without any wrapper then you will pay the same tax as if you invested directly into the unit trust:

This contrasts with LISP investments which are wrapped in an endowment police:

So, should one choose to invest directly into a unit trust or into an endowment policy? This would depend inter alia on:

In addition to considering direct investments and endowment wrappers, individuals should also consider whether it's more efficient to invest via a tax free savings account; at least up to the annual allowance, taking the maximum overall allowance into account as well.

Bulk Accounts

The units which the LISP purchases on behalf of investors is held in bulk accounts on their behalf; with the legal entity owning the assets in the bulk account depending on the legal wrapper chosen, e.g.:

Note that the LISP itself is never the owner of the assets in the bulk accounts. Key responsibilities of the LISP are to keep its own capital seperate from that of investors, and to keep track of which clients own which units in the bulk accounts.

Selecting a LISP Investment Platform

Pay attention to:





Absa Linked Investments (AIMS)

0860 000 005

Alexander Forbes Global Platform


Alexander Forbes Investment Platform


Allan Gray Investment Platform

1 Silo Square, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

0860 000 654
021 415 2301

Capricorn Asset Management

119 Independence Avenue, Windhoek, Namibia

+264 61 299 1950

Discovery Invest


Fairbairn Capital (Old Mutual)


Glacier (Sanlam)


Investec iSelect


Liberty Gateway Investment Plan


Momentum Benefits at Work


Momento Investo


Momentum Wealth - Fundshop


Nedbank Private Wealth


Old Mutual Max Income


Old Mutual Wealth


Peregrine Administration Services


PSG Asset Management Administration Services


Stanlib Wealth Management


Sygnia Alchemy

7th Floor, The Foundry, Cardiff Street, Green Point, Cape Town

0860 794 642


35 Ballyclare Drive, Bryanston, Johannesburg

087 231 6972
010 593 3103

[This is not a comprehensive list. If you have info you would like added, please email it to and I'll update the article]

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