Zimvest Economy Conversations: Financial Experts Call For Reorganization Of Nigeria’s Market Architecture

…Warn Against Unregulated Financial Institutions

Stakeholders in the Nigerian Capital market, Asset Management and Banking Industries have called for a rethink of the nation’s economic philosophy and a reset of the financial market architecture. This was part of the major takeaways from the “Zimvest Economy Conversations”, a thought-leadership series of Digital Private Wealth and Investment Management Firm, Zimvest (Zedcrest Investment Managers) held on Saturday, June 20, 2020.

Giving the opening remark during the virtual event, Business Head of Zimvest, Gbenga Adigun, noted that investors are gravely concerned with investment returns in light of the current low yield environment while financial institutions are thinking of how their product development and service delivery should evolve with the changing needs of investors.

Bola Onadele Koko, CEO of FMDQ Group while delivering the keynote speech on the event theme “The Economic Landscape and Investor Preferences in Post-pandemic Africa”, talked about the toll the growing pandemic has had on African markets. He laid emphasis on the slowdown in key segments of the economy including the financial markets, tourism, remittances and foreign direct investments. He called for a rethink of Nigeria’s economic philosophy with clarity from the fiscal policymakers which will be critical for gaining investors’ confidence.

According to him, “Now is the time to develop new and ingenious ways to develop and drive the Nigerian financial market and in the continent at large. Private capital will especially be more essential as recent shocks have shown the limits of Governments’ abilities particularly in developing countries”, he said.

The capital market leader also stated that FX reforms will be critical for the Nigerian economy at this point; noting that trading activity in the Nigerian Fixed-Income and Interbank Currencies market is down by 55% due to economic slowdown linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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All panelists in this first episode of the thought-leadership series pointed out that most investors were affected by the pandemic and are looking for further ways to diversify their portfolios that may end the year on a negative real return.  

Speaking during the panel session, Abiola Adekoya, Wealth Expert and Ex-CEO at RMB Securities, stated that one of the key things that investors are concerned about in this era is the need for diversification, more liquidity and higher investment returns.

In her words: “A lot of investors have been focused on one product and this pandemic has shown that that is not enough. The nascent interest in alternative assets have shown that there is strong liquidity in the overlooked retail space and Investment managers should pay keen attention and develop alternative assets products, and reduce the reliance on the traditional Fixed income, Money markets and Equities offerings.

Buttressing Abiola’s position on alternative assets, Esiri Agbeyi, Partner and Head Private Wealth Services, PwC Nigeria, emphasized the need for investors to take keen interest in private equity and other alternative assets investments. She shared a PWC survey on Family Offices. The survey revealed that 63% of family businesses leaned towards private equity as an investment portfolio. Local pools of private capital are important to drive economic development

Onome Komolafe, Divisional Head of Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS), stated the need for improved product development and differentiation, clear market segmentation and smart communication as tools that financial services firms can deploy in evolving with the changing consumer behavior. She also pointed to premium service delivery and technological innovation as crucial to democratization of investment opportunities in Africa.

The Group Executive, Treasury & Financial Institutions at First Bank, Ini Ebong, pointed out the present opportunity available for investors, regulators, institutions, market practitioners to reset Nigerian financial market architecture. He noted that this opportunity presents itself mostly around periods of crisis. 

 According to him, as markets develop, the investing public becomes more able to embrace risk and go for higher return instruments outside traditional bank based deposits.

“If you want high returns on investment, you must be willing to take on more risky investment products”, said Adetoun Dosunmu, Treasurer at FBN Merchant Bank. “Giving the highly specialized nature of investing, working with a regulated fund manager will be most beneficial to the investor in the long run and would protect against fraud and sharp practices from the teeming number of platforms offering untested investment opportunities”.

During his closing remark, the Founder of the Zedcrest Group and the Chief Host of the event, Saheed Adedayo Amzat, CFA, called on the Nigerian capital market stakeholders to unite to further capital formation in the country. He sounded a note of warning to Nigerians on suspicious wealth generation platforms.

“Many unsuspecting investors over the last three decades have lost their funds to unregulated institutions that promised unbelievable returns. All stakeholders in the sector need to speak up and inform the unsuspecting public about investment platforms. Our regulators need to do more with the support of all players in the Investment management space”, he opined. 

The much-anticipated event lived up to its billings as over 1,150 participants engaged the speakers on investment challenges and opportunities they can tap into post-Covid.

Zimvest, the newly launched Investment Management subsidiary of Zedcrest, plans to be at the nexus of a continuing conversation series around Investment management and economic policy landscapes. The second edition of the series is to be announced soon.

A poll conducted during the event also shows that over 60% of participants prioritized “Capital Preservation” when choosing an investment option. Over 72% were concerned about inflation and exchange rate fluctuations and over 81% were concerned about Proven Track Record, Regulatory Compliance and Transparency when choosing an investment management partner. The session ended at exactly 1pm on the day.

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