As a relative unknown in the U.S. market, Investec gets some quizzical looks from other firms, who often warm up after doing research on the South African powerhouse, Brennan said.

"Because we're not American, we have no brand awareness or recognition here. We actually need to sell the concept to them," said Brennan. He added that the prospect of partnering with the ambitious U.S. outpost of a well-backed foreign firm should be attractive to acquisition targets.

Once Investec has a base of domestic investment management and develops a set of products, the firm will engage in an aggressive branding campaign.

"We'll build a brand like we're doing in the U.K. We're not ready to get there," he said.

Although the timing of the upcoming acquisition is still unknown, Investec's expansion has been--and will be--very measured as Brennan and Comely learn the American mutual fund market and go beyond the first steps of creating a basic brand and product line.

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