At the tender age of 13, with no shoes to wear to her school’s prize-giving, the young Marilyn Ramplin dreamt of becoming a millionaire before the age of 30—and she did!
Born and raised in East London, Marilyn came from a home where money was often a problem and she had to make do with what she had. What she had in abundance however was caring parents who instilled proper values in her and her siblings. Her mom instilled discipline in them by making sure they did all their homework and their dad encouraged them to work hard and dream big. When she was 13, her dad bought her a book called, “Think and Grow Rich”. This is where she adopted the idea that it’s your state of mind that will determine your future and not your current circumstances. This is also where she decided that she would become a millionaire.
After matriculating, Marilyn registered at Rhodes University for a B Com degree, but had to drop out during her second year. Even though she was working full-time, the money she earned wasn’t enough to pay for her studies. Not backing down from her dream, she saved up enough money and in 1995, she left for London, one of the financial capitals of the world. She lived in the cheapest accommodation she could find, and went on a search for a job that would help her achieve her dream. Her determination paid off when she landed a job at the investment bank, Dresdner Kleinwort.
Marilyn soon realized that she was really good at understanding the financial markets, and within 8 months, she got a job at Invesco where she focused on rebalancing funds in an index tracking team. She was well on her way to achieving her goal of becoming a millionaire by the age of 30.
Marilyn went on to become an Equities Trader at Rand Merchant Bank, a Hedge Fund Risk Arbitrage Trader at Sandell Asset Management, and in 2004, she was appointed Head of Alternative Investments for Reech Capital. She became an executive director for JP Morgan in 2006, where she managed equity derivatives and investment banking. She has served as Technical Advisor to regulators both in South Africa and internationally, and she served as Director at Ashburton and SEB Prime Solutions Limited.
She serves as an Independent non-executive Director at Alexander Forbes, FNB, Strate, Investment Solutions, , Ashburton, JSE Clear, and Avior. During her time in London, Marilyn completed a Derivatives and Regulatory Qualification from the UK Securities Institute.
The great thing about the financial sector is that it’s a fantastic way to get rich, really fast. The bad thing about it is that it is generally a place where the ‘already rich’ get even richer. It is of very little use to the average South African, especially people of colour, and Marilyn understood this. In an attempt to spread the wealth to communities of colour, she started the Hedge Fund Academy.
She started this programme to give back her to her community, after realising that graduates of colour were still struggling to succeed in the finance field due to the absence of opportunities given to them. By applying her finance knowledge and skills she was able to build a platform to help young people enter the world of finance without charging them! When she started in 2014, she could only fund 15 students. Since then, she has been able to put more than 350 unemployed graduates into employment and in their first year of employment, these graduates earned a combined income R73 million.
Marilyn is described by her friends, family and colleagues as hard-working, determined and smart. In fact, some of her colleagues often ask her, “When do you sleep?”. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her 3 little kids, standing around the braai with her friends, and just having dinner with her family. The thing about going from having no shoes to becoming a millionaire, is that you get to enjoy holidays that is, well, ‘millionairish’. The self-made millionaire also enjoys fun activities such as mountaineering and skiing on the Swiss Alps.
The 13-year-old Marilyn Ramplin, who dreamt of becoming a millionaire by the age of 30, has achieved that and much more. She has been to London and New York, settling back in South Africa where she gives back to the community through her initiatives and programmes. Marilyn Ramplin is proof that it is not where you come from that determines your future. Following the advice of the book her father gave her, she rose beyond her circumstances, and changed her mind set to that of hope and determination.