187. Adam Saron – Founder of Clara-Pensions: Pensions, Investing, Risk Taking and Life as a Marathon and not a Sprint

Adam Saron is Founder of Clara-Pensions, a member-first consolidator of defined benefit pension schemes. He previously ran Black Ant Investment Management, a long-biased value investor, which invested in both public equities and corporate credits.

Our conversation traces Adam’s childhood in South Africa, his pursuit of law and reluctant rejection of certain more adventurous career choices such as Karate. We cover his move to London and time in asset management, which saw him not only learn to take risk but also strike out with a founder when he was handpicked to help him run a value investment firm.  Value investing has had its ups and downs, and the lessons learned amid this volatility have been hard won – Adam shares some of them, and the importance of professional detachment (at times) and the focus on the long term.

We talk then about the challenges facing DB schemes currently and the potential that consolidation will bring.  We discuss trustees, governance, the importance of challenge and second opinions.  We also discuss the issue of engagement and the difficulty in generating it – a theme we raised earlier in this series in our discussion with Jonathan Hollow.

Finally we return to some of the reflections that Adam has at this stage of his career, about the importance of stopping and taking pride in what has been achieved and analytical about how success is defined.

Series 2 of 2023 is kindly sponsored by Beach Point Capital Advisors, an investment manager that believes in investment beyond the traditional.  It specializes in credit investments and employs a flexible, value-oriented, risk-controlled focusing on complex and less well-followed opportunities.

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