Archive for the 'Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF)' Category

Exploring African bond markets at Livingstone

Africa’s bond market gurus will gather in Livingstone, Zambia, on 29 October, to discuss trends and developments in the local currency bond markets. The 3 day gathering is organized by the African Financial Markets Initiative AFMI, which highlights African Development Bank’s leading role to develop Africa’s domestic local currency bond markets, establish best practices and document lessons.
The first day of the AFMI 10th anniversary workshop is open to the public, and highlights “enhancing transparency in African bond markets”. It includes panels on initiatives in the African capital markets ad steps to increase transparency in bond markets, led by your author.

Victoria Falls

There are also presentations on African Development Bank’s contributions to deepening local currency bond markets including: the data collection tool and platform, bringing together data from African central banks; the African Bond index ABABI, BADBC and BADBX compiled with Bloomberg.
A key highlight will be the progress of the African Domestic Bond Fund, recently listed in Mauritius.xx Other sessions cover regional integration, African credit risk measuring and a top Zambian panel highlighting the business opportunity in Zambia. Prof Leonce Ndikumana from Massachusetts University will speak on African illicit financial flows.
Top speakers also include Thapelo Tsheole (Chairman of the Committee of SADSC Securities Exchanges COSSE), Stefan Nalletamby (Director Financial Sector Development at AfDB), Cedric Mbeng Mezui (AfDB’s Chief Bond Markets Expert and AGFMI Coordinator), Joseph Rohm (MD Adventis and African Financial Sector Deepening Fund) and many others. Keynote speaker in the evening will be Christopher Marks (Managing Director and Head of Emerging Markets at Mitsubishi UFI Financial Group MUFG)
The conference is co-organized with Bank of Zambia and the session will include the Ministry of Finance, Lusaka Stock Exchange, BoZ, Investment Board and stakeholders.
The following days, 30-31 October, are closed sessions for central bankers.

African bond markets statistics

Here are a few overview statistics on African local currency bond markets taken from the African Financial Markets Initiative (AFMI) annual report 2017:

Total outstanding amount of African bonds and bills rose to $413bn in 2017 (up 13% on a year earlier), and bonds made up 70%. More than 80% of the total comes from 5 countries: South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and Kenya (descending order of market capitalization). However, many markets are small with only 8 above $10bn in market capitalization and 19 markets below $1bn.

A total of $245bn of treasury bonds and bills were issued in 2017, up 12% compared to 2016. Of this, a total of $196bn (80%) was in instruments with term to maturity of less than 1 year. On the bond markets, $19bn of instruments with terms of 1-5 years was issued, $12bn of bonds with term 5-10 years and $18bn of bonds longer than 10 years.

Top 10 bond markets (source AFMI annual report 2017)


The AfDB/AFMISM Bloomberg African Bond Index (ABABI) includes 75% of the most liquid local currency sovereign bonds in Africa and it covers South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Ghana. According to AFMI “This will enable governments to improve the terms at which they borrow in domestic financial markets, thus reducing their dependence on foreign currency denominated debt.” The bond index family also includes African Domestic Bond Index (ABMDI) plus 2 sub-indices BADBC, which is a capped index giving a maximum 25% exposure per country and reducing the influence of South African bonds, and BADBX, which excludes South Africa. BADBC index returned 20.26% in USD in 2017, driven by high-yielding local-currency markets and stable exchange rates. The index offers diversification for global fixed income investors.

AFMI has organized an African Financial Markets Database which is a single portal as a web platform (www.africanbondmarkets.org) covering monetary policy, public debt management, auction results and guide to buying debt, and an African bond data portal, as a channel to disseminate domestic bond market data, standardizing data collected from different institutions. By December 2017 it covered 43 countries. The portal collects data from official websites of Ministries of Finance, central banks, debt management offices and stock exchanges and is updated quarterly. A data query section and automated data collection are being built.

In September the African Domestic Bond Fund was listed on the Stock Exchange of Mauritius as the first exchange traded fund (ETF) giving a basket exposure to several African fixed income markets. For coverage see earlier article. It will boost development of markets by providing a source of funding for local borrowers while creating a new asset class of African fixed-income securities.

AFMI has also created an African Bond Markets Development Index, which charts the state of development of the bond markets. In 2017 some markets gained strength in terms of liquidity and maturity profile based on indicators such as macroeconomic variables, market structure and market liquidity. In the top 10, Botswana, Namibia, Mauritius, Kenya and Seychelles all improved their rankings, while Nigeria and Morocco both declined, Nigeria from #2 to #6.

Top 10 in African bond market development index 2017 (source AFMI)

First African fixed income ETF listed in Mauritius, tracking bond index

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and Mauritius Commercial Bank Group (MCB) have launched the African Domestic Bond Fund (ADBF). The pioneer exchange-traded fund (ETF) is accessible to investors through its listing on 18 September on the Stock Exchange of Mauritius.

Sunil Benhimadhu, Chief Executive of the Stock Exchange of Mauritius submitted the Certificate of Listing of the African Domestic Bond Fund to Mr Stefan Nalletamby, Director AfDB FInancial Sector Development Department and Mr Rony Lam, CEO of MCB Capital Markets.


The ADBF fund will track the performance of the AfDB/AFMI Bloomberg African Bond Index 25%Capped, an index that comprises African local currency sovereign bonds of 8 African markets: Botswana, Egypt, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana and Zambia. It is intended that sovereign bonds of other countries will be included in the index in future.

It is the first multi-jurisdictional fixed income exchange-traded fund (ETF) in Africa. The Bank has committed $25 million and is acting as an anchor investor of ADBF. It was listed on Stock Exchange of Mauritius came on 18 September 2018.

Fund Manager is MCB Investment Management (MCBIM), a subsidiary of MCB Capital Markets. MCBIM is a pioneer of the pan-African fixed-income asset class, it launched the MCB Africa Bond Fund, an actively managed mutual fund focused on African fixed income, in 2014. The African Development Bank says the fund has consistently outperformed its benchmark.

The AfDB’s African Financial Markets Initiative (AFMI) aims to strengthen African economies by reducing their dependency on debt denominated in foreign currency (FX), increasing the range of available financing options, and acting as a catalyst for regional market integration.

According to the press release: Pierre-Guy Noel, chief executive officer of MCB Group, said: “We are delighted to partner with the African Development Bank in launching this pioneering fund. This attests to the Bank and MCB’s commitment to help develop the local currency fixed income markets on the continent and to the quality of our investment management capabilities. The fund listing on the Stock Exchange of Mauritius brings to investors the opportunity to access African government bonds conveniently.”

Cédric Achille Mbeng Mezui, Chief African Bond Markets & Coordinator of African Financial Markets Initiative (AFMI), said: “A key milestone has been achieved today with the listing of the first multijurisdictional Sovereign Bond ETF, namely the African Domestic Bond Fund (ADBF) on the Stock Exchange of Mauritius. Next steps: The dual listing on the Nigeria Stock Exchange and increased investment in this Fund.”

JSE listed ETF offers 15 African exchanges ex-South Africa

A new exchange-traded fund (ETF) offers investors access to an index covering 50 companies across Africa outside South Africa. The AMI Big50 Ex-SA ETF tracks a new index designed by Cloud Atlas Investing, a Johannesburg-based collective investment scheme. It covers shares in 15 African exchanges including Egypt, Mauritius, Kenya, Morocco, Tanzania, Nigeria, Tunisia, Botswana, Namibia, Uganda, Ghana and Zimbabwe, as well as the BRVM Exchange in West Africa.

The ETF was listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange on 20 April. Donna Nemer, Director of Capital Markets at the JS, said in a press release: “The JSE is committed to playing a role in the expansion and deepening of Africa’s investment opportunities. This new ETF offers an easy, safe way to invest in African markets and supports the continent’s growth journey.”

ETFs are investments that track the performance of a group or “basket” of shares, bonds or commodities. They can offer tax and cost benefits to some investments, and are good for investors who do not want to pick and choose individual shares, but they are also used by institutional investors. They are regulated by the JSE and the Financial Services Board (FSB) and can be acquired, like any other listed share, through a stockbroker or online trading account, or via an investment platform that offers a monthly debit-order facility.

Maurice Madiba, CEO and Founding Director of Cloud Atlas Investing, said: “We want to improve liquidity and help to develop African markets for investors to feel the full robustness of these markets, and as such, have chosen to invest in stocks that are listed on African exchanges. These could include stocks in multinationals that are listed on African exchanges, as well as local African companies.”

The fund is available for individual and institutional investors. Regulation 28 of the South African Pension Funds Act allows pension funds to invest up to 5% per cent of a fund’s capital in African investments outside South Africa. Madiba explained: “We have received a dispensation from the South African Reserve Bank to offer this ETF to institutional investors according to Regulation 28. We have already opened up the ETF to the retail market, and certainly have plans to bring the institutional investor on board. We believe this ETF is a good product to have for the long-term investor because of its growth prospects, and as such will be of interest to both the individual and the institutional investor. It is important to us that we try to facilitate ways in which Africans can participate in Africa’s growth.”

Nemer adds it offers South African investors a wider opportunity to share in Africa’s growth and “Rand-hedging opportunities.”

According to this report on website ETF Strategy, the fund has certain concentrated exposures including significant country exposure to Morocco (28.4%) and Egypt (19.3%), as well as highly concentrated single holdings in Moroccan telecoms firm Itissalat Al Maghrib (20.6%) and Egyptian bank CIB (11.0%). Other top exposures include Nigeria (13.7%), Kenya (11.0%) and stocks listed on the BRVM Exchange in West Africa (6.3%). The top sector exposures are to banks (29.3%), telecoms (27.9%), food & beverage (17.7%) and industrials (14.6%). (Data as of March 2017). The fund has total fees of 1.17%.

The ETF market has seen steady growth globally as well as in South Africa. There are 53 ETFs listed on the JSE, with a total ETF market capitalization of almost R73 billion ($5.4bn). Several providers offer various indexes on African markets including regional indexes.

Prejelin Naggan, Head of Primary Markets, Johannesburg Stock Exchange and Maurice Madiba, CEO and Founding Director of Cloud Atlas Investing. Photo: JSE

Namibia’s stockbrokers switch to IRESS to access NSX

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All 4 Namibian stockbrokers have switched their front-end links into the local bourse trading system to the trading solutions supplied by IRESS. The company is a leading supplier of innovative technology for financial markets, wealth management and the mortgage industry in South Africa, Asia, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

IRESS says that the fully integrated solution incorporates order and execution management means that brokers no longer have to use multiple and legacy trading systems when managing orders on the local Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX) and their institutional order flow to South African brokers for execution on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). Order routing is fully managed by IRESS and delivered within a unified multi-market order-management system. Brokers can leverage IRESS’ international trading connectivity and seamlessly access counterparties on the IRESS network, which includes many “buy-side” or institutional investors. Efficiency benefits include unified systems and no need to enter data twice or more, removing the potential for human data entry error.

Ridwaan Kharva, Head of Trading Solutions at IRESS, explains in a press release: “Having an integrated order-management system and execution platform creates a huge amount of efficiency in terms of both cost and workflow. We are delighted to include all Namibian brokers as IRESS exchange trading clients in addition to our presence in South Africa. IRESS has been connecting market participants for over 10 years and brokers in Namibia will now be able to benefit from enhanced trading capability, delivering improved speed and reliability with reduced cost.”

IRESS has also supplied the NSX with IRESS Professional Market Data, enabling comprehensive market monitoring and analysis.

The NSX made history in 1998 when it became the first African exchange to run its trading systems on the system offered by the JSE under an agreement to exchange technology, skills and . That has ensured, over the years, that it has remained with one of the world’s best and most up-to-date trading systems, currently running out of Johannesburg and previously run by the London Stock Exchange. The arrangement was renewed in 2014, and details of its benefits are given in this JSE press release.

The NSX has 34 listed companies and 4 listed exchange-traded funds (ETFs), 4 stockbroking members and 7 sponsoring brokers.

IRESS, headquartered in Australia, employs over 1,340 staff globally, with local knowledge and industry experience. All its product streams support a diverse range of roles and offer front, middle and back-office functionality for clients that range from financial service institutions through to independent operators

Nairobi Securities Exchange plans to offer 38% of shares in June IPO

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The Nairobi Securities Exchange (www.nse.co.ke) is pushing ahead fast with its demutualization plans and will sell up to a 38% stake in an initial public offering (IPO) in June. According to a report on Reuters, NSE chief executive Peter Mwangi said the NSE will offer up to 81 million shares, subject to regulatory approval.
The offer price will be set by the IPO advisors closer to the offer date. The bourse will use the funds for new products and enhance transparency.
Reuters quoted Mwangi saying: “We want to list through an IPO on the main market. We need to open this listing before 30 June. That conversion from a private to a public company will position us to be a very effective player.”
“We are playing in a sweet spot where the frontier funds think Africa is rising. East Africa is a hot spot on the African map and we are the gateway into that east African region.”

Soaring profits, new products
The NSE’s pretax profit more than doubled to KES 379m shillings last year from 2012. It has been lifted by a surge in trading turnover after the 4 Mar 2013 presidential election went peacefully. The dynamic Nairobi exchange is a mutual company owned by its stockbrokers, and demutualization is the process converting into a private for-profit company, as reported on this blog. The ordinary shares have a nominal (par) value of KES 4 shillings ($0.05) each.
Kenya’s Capital Markets Authority is reviewing the exchange’s advanced plans to offer currency and interest-rates futures and options. The NSE futures market will offer standardized contracts for currency futures that will be traded. Mwangi said: “We are seeing more and more international investors who might want to invest in Kenya and they might want to hedge the currency risk.” Local banks offer foreign-exchange forward contracts, which are negotiated directly with buyers, but they cannot be traded.
Mwangi added that part of the funds raised in the IPO will be used to bankroll new products such as derivatives, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and Sharia-compliant indexes. The NSE has already led the way with a number of FTSE-branded index products and is working with the CMA and CDSC to introduce a real estate investment trust (REIT) market in Kenya and trading platform and a futures and commodities exchange.

Diversifying income
The 60-year-old Nairobi stock exchange has been diversifying through new sources of revenue including sales of publications, provision of services through the Broker Back Office (BBO) and data-vending. It bought a prime commercial property in Nairobi’s Westlands area to tap into rental income, according to a report in Standard Digital.
The region is enjoying many benefits from increasing regional integration under the East African Community (EAC). The Nairobi bourse is a key player in the East African Securities Exchange Association (EASEA), which aims to standardize regulations and operations within the region to make cross-border investing easier. Members are the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE), the Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE), the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE), and the Central Depository and Settlement Corporation (CDSC). It also has a memorandum of understanding with the Somalia Stock Exchange Investment Corporation (SSE) under which it will have primary responsibility for the technical development of the Somalia Stock Exchange including identifying the most suitable partners and expertise.
Regional integration has also boosted expansion among listed firms and investor confidence after the discovery large quantities of gas and oil across several east African countries. There are many cross listing between the exchanges.
Mwangi said they wanted to attract more listings on the NSE’s Growth Enterprise Market (GEMS) which is aimed at small firms wishing to list their shares. There is only one listing, property developer Home Afrika so far. The NSE hopes to attract more listings through easier listing terms such as allowing business owners to offer a minimum of 15% if the shares in the market. Mwangi told family business owners who may be reluctant to lose control: “With 85% you have effective control of your company but you enjoy all the advantages of being listed. We are in a sense offering the best of both worlds.”
The NSE is a key member of the African Securities Exchanges Association and an affiliate member of the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) and intends to become a full member.

Bond trading coming to Egyptian Exchange, listing regulations eased

A bond-trading platform could be launched in Egypt in Q2 of 2014, after 10 years of planning, according to a story on Reuters, quoting Mohamed Omran, chairman of the Egyptian Exchange (EGX): “We hope to activate the bonds market in the second quarter of this year. The file is now with the central bank to come to an agreement with banks on how to issue certain percentages of the bonds for trading,” Omran told Reuters.

The regulator (Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority EFSA) is to relax regulations from 1 Feb so that a listed company will no longer need EFSA permission to split shares or need to call a general meeting before a capital increase, provided it complies with pre-set rules. Reuters cited a telephone interview with EFSA head Sherif Samy. He said the new regulations would also make it easier for companies who wish to list. The draft that amends listing and delisting regulations has been shared with capital markets institutions in Egypt last week and can be obtained (in Arabic) via this link.

Omran told the agency the new regulations would help boost trading on the African securities exchange and attract more investment. According to an earlier Reuters story, the new regulations will also include developing mechanisms for exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The aim is to attract new companies and boost turnover. Samy had told Reuters in October that listing regulations were in “dire need” of change.

A few treasury (government) and corporate bonds are listed for trading on the EGX but so far investors tend to hold until maturity and bond trading is slow.

The EGX also announced recently new monthly reports on important data and financial indicators of listed companies including PE ratio, turnover ratio, percentage of change in the stock price, market capitalization, average daily value of shares traded and volume (number of shares traded). According to a news release, Omran said the data and indicators would boost the quality of information, raise capacity of small dealers in making comparisons, and help investors make decisions.

Africa’s securities exchanges and their part in Africa’s future

“How can African exchanges become an integral part of the continent’s economic transformation?” This is the challenge from Sunil Benimadhu, President of the African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA www.african-exchanges.org), at the flagship conference in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, earlier this month. It is a good agenda for action by Africa’s securities exchanges in 2014.
Benimadhu asks how the stock exchanges can “become powerful enablers and powerful drivers of change”; how they can “empower the middle-class, democratize the economy and help overcome poverty”; and how capital markets can “effectively provide the much-needed capital for corporate funding, but also the funding of governments’ social programmes in Africa?”
He identified 4 “S”s for securities exchanges:

S is for synergy
“There is a fundamental need for African stock exchanges to establish strong synergies with the other clusters within the financial services sector, like the banking sector, the insurance sector, the asset-management industry, the pension-fund industry, and work towards the emergence of an integrated approach to the development of the financial services sector in Africa. African exchanges have, for too long, been considered as mere appendages to the mainstream financial services clusters, when in effect they should have occupied a central position within the financial services spectrum, as clearly evidenced by successful financial centres in the world.”

S is support
Governments and policy-makers in Africa need “to understand the fundamental transformational role of capital markets to the socioeconomic fabric of African economies. Governments need to be fully supportive of the development of vibrant capital markets and they need to adopt policies that are conducive to the development of efficient and competitive markets.” Benimadhu cites Singapore, whose success began with a “direct interventionist approach of the Singaporean Government which made a clear statement about its vision to transform Singapore into an international financial centre and adopted policies that were fully supportive of the stated vision.” He points out how Singapore’s capital markets have contributed immensely to the transformation of the country’s economy into a world star. He added that Africa’s most successful companies should support the African stock exchanges by listing and contributing to market growth.

S is scope
African securities exchanges should “move up the value-chain and extend the scope of products and services they offer”. He acknowledges the short-term challenge is still the flotation and listing of new, valuable and liquid companies, but adds: “the short-to-medium term target implies a fundamental review of the exchange business model and the diversification of revenue streams via a strategic shift from the current equity-centric focus. New products including bonds, exchange-traded funds, structured products and eventually derivatives need to be introduced.”

S – substance
“Substance is about the ability of African Stock Exchanges to demonstrate that they have created value for the different stakeholders they service, namely issuers, investors and society as a whole.” Benimadhu says exchanges need to show how they have enabled existing issuers to raise capital to fund their growth and to create value for their shareholders and this will help bring new issuers to the market. “The substantive contributions of African Exchanges on both these counts are quite compelling and I think that these strengths need to be aggressively marketed by African exchanges to attract new issuers and broaden our product offerings.”
It is also important for African stock exchanges to improve their image and marketing to investors: “African exchanges need to demonstrate that they operate in a cost-effective and transparent manner, that information on listed scrips are readily and timeously available and that exchanges offer products that can potentially generate attractive returns to investors.
“With regards to society, exchanges should demonstrate that they can contribute to the democratization of the economy, create wealth for the citizens of a nation, contribute to the job-creation process, improve corporate governance and finally contribute to the overall well-being of a society from both a quantitative as well as a qualitative perspective.”

Panels at the conference included government support to the development of vibrant capital markets in Africa; how exchanges can generate substance and value for issuers, helping issuers tell their story right and endorsing effective communication strategies; and listening to issuers and investors on how African exchanges have added value to each.

Botswana Stock Exchange launches automated trading

Months of hard work came to a climax when the Botswana Stock Exchange successfully launched its automated trading system (ATS) and now has live trading. This replaces the open outcry trading system and the aim is to make the BSE more visible and trading more efficient. The exchange has been using a central securities depository (CSD) since 2008 and this was upgraded alongside the implementation of the ATS.
The ATS was installed by MillenniumIT, part of the London Stock Exchange Group, after a BWP8.8 million ($1.1m) contract. MillenniumIT also installed the CSD.
The new system was implemented on Friday 24 August. The day before, Thursday 23 August, was a trading holiday, while Friday was a settlement holiday with trades settling instead on 27 August. These holidays were meant to enable the BSE to transition from the old CSD system to the upgraded version.
There is still a key target to encourage more shareholders to dematerialize their paper certificates and register them in the CSD for ease of trading. According to the BSE Annual Report, 46% of all domestic company shares and 91% of foreign company shares were dematerialized by December 2011, and so was the first corporate bond. In the annual report Chairman Patrick O’Flaherty notes “Along with the implementation of the ATS, our CSD (Central Securities Depositories) system is also being upgraded. This will ensure that the trading, clearing and settlement infrastructure of the BSE remains state of the art”.
In 2011 the BSE recorded average daily turnover of BWP4.1m. The volume of shares traded in 2011 was 458.7m, up from 308.7m in 2010. Letshego Holdings did a ten-for-one share split in 2010 and Furnmart and G4s followed suit in 2011.

INTERVIEW WITH HIRAN MENDIS, CEO OF BOTSWANA STOCK EXCHANGE
ACMN: What has the market participants’ reactions to the ATS?
HM: The response has been very positive. Automated trading is a completely new development in our market, but all market participants, particularly the brokers, have embraced the development and have basically hit the ground running. The amount of enthusiasm in the market is very humbling for the BSE.

ACMN: Were there any problems in the implementation?
HM: Apart from the normal day-to-day challenges that form part of any project, there were no major challenges. As the BSE, we had to work extra hard throughout the lifetime of the project to bring all stakeholders together and make sure that everyone is on the same page; that everyone understands and embraces the primary objective of bringing our market to par with other regional and international giants. Overall, it has been an extremely demanding but very rewarding experience for all stakeholders.

ACMN: Have you seen an increase in trading volumes?
HM: It’s still too early to say. In the first 2 days, it was quiet; probably because the traders were being cautious with the new trading platform. But turnover has since jumped back to previous levels.

ACMN: Are brokers now connecting from their offices (wide area network)?
HM: The brokers have been connecting from their offices since 2008 and this setup is still being used, even with the ATS. The networks have so far been very cooperative as we have not had any outages. The links that we have been using for WAN connectivity since 2008 have been very stable. On average, we have experienced less than 10 hours of downtime per year since 2008. About half of this downtime happened outside of trading hours.

ACMN: Can you give some technical details about the ATS and the CSD and their integration?
HM: The ATS is a trading platform, primarily responsible for accepting client orders, as input by brokers, and matching those orders on set criteria to produce trades. CSD system acts as a back-end for the ATS, handling the registry function for the ATS, together with clearing and settlement of all trades that happen at the ATS. For a client to be able to trade through the ATS, then they need to open a CSD account first. Communication between the systems is on a real-time basis and as clients buy/sell shares, their CSD account balances are updated in real time. The ATS is able to trade equity, debt, ETFs (exchange-traded funds), and GDRs (global depository receipts). Instruments that are currently actively trading through the ATS/CSD are equities and ETFs. Plans to include bonds are underway and CFDs will follow in due course. Trading currently happens from 10:30 to 13:30. The first trading session is an opening auction, followed by regular trading, then an interim auction session, then another regular trading session, which is followed by a closing auction session, and finally a closing price cross session.

ACMN: What future steps are planned – such as increased data flows, remote membership of BSE and direct market access?
HM: At this point we are more concerned with ensuring that that system continues to function according to expectations. Once the dust has settled and all stakeholders are comfortable with the system then the BSE will begin exploring availing market data in real-time to data vendors etc. After that, as a second phase of the automation drive, we will explore the possibility of Internet trading. As the BSE, we understand and appreciate that a wide spectrum of developments are now possible with an automated market. Funds and time permitting, we will build services around the CSD/ATS systems in order to turn our market into a true global player.

Are capital markets taking a wrong turn? Soul-searching on short-termism after UK’s Kay Review

Lots of useful commentary is published this week about what’s going wrong with the world’s leading capital markets and finance. This new bout of soul-searching follows the publication of Prof John Kay’s “The Kay Review of UK Equity Markets and Long-Term Decision Making” on 23 July and available here (and the Interim Report, published in February, with much of the evidence is available here.
The Prof says that equity markets are not working as effectively as they could. “We conclude that short-termism is a problem in UK equity markets, and that the principal causes are the decline of trust and the misalignment of incentives throughout the equity investment chain”. He says that successful financial intermediation depends on: “Trust and confidence are the product of long-term commercial and personal relationships: trust and confidence are not generally created by trading between anonymous agents attempting to make short term gains at each other’s expense.”
He blames the prevailing culture and says that people don’t only work for financial incentives, as widely promoted in current City culture – “Most people have more complex goals, but they generally behave in line with the values and aspirations of the environment in which they find themselves.” Prof Kay puts forward a series of 17 recommendations on how to make things better and this could be useful reading for anyone involved in developing capital markets with an aiming to help grow savings and create better performing businesses. This includes fiduciary standards of care if you manage other peoples’ money, diminishing the current role of trading and transactional cultures, high-level statements of good practice, improving the interactions of asset managers and other investors with investee companies, and tackling misaligned incentives in remuneration, and reducing pressures for short-term decision making. The Guardian newspaper’s Nils Pratley has a useful summary of some of the best recommendations here, ironically coupled with a beautiful rosy photograph of the City!
One background comment is by Evening Standard columnist Anthony Hilton here. He says “The behaviours that led Deputy Governor of the Bank of England Paul Tucker to use the word “cesspool” when giving evidence to the Treasury Select Committee on Libor come in a straight line from the reforms imposed on the Stock Exchange by the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1986 when she forced it to open up membership to all comers, and in particular to abolish single capacity — the arrangement under which firms had to confine themselves to a single activity in which they acted for themselves or for the client, but not both… From being a servant of the real economy, finance began its journey towards becoming an end in itself, with deals done not because they had economic rationale but because they made money for bankers and costs, both direct and indirect, that impose a colossal and unnecessary burden on that real economy.” He adds that this kept the system honest “or rather it was dishonest in a less poisonous way. Until Big Bang, the problems came from dishonest people working in honest firms; today the problems are caused by honest people working in dishonest firms. The culture is rotten.” This brought world-beating businesses low “by policies designed to pander to the stock market rather than secure the businesses’ long-term future for its customers, employees and indeed the country.” He says the rewards of finance should belong to customers, not their advisers.
Kay also notes that index investing, as growing popular in some African markets with the rise of ETF (exchange-traded funds) and other derivatives, may not represent a strategy for representative returns, see this Financial Times summary. He also urges less securities lending.
Most of the leading commentators though conclude that the view is rather rose-tinted, and not in touch with the real world. The Financial Times Lex Column says (unfortunately this link may be subscribers only, but you did not miss much if you don’t find a way around): “Dig a little deeper though and this vision – which includes an attack on the efficient markets hypothesis – is flawed”. It says although investors should engage more with companies a falling share price is better incentive for a manager to perform well than a phonecall and that quarterly reporting helps people see what’s going on and reduces insider trading. It points to the UK’s “shareholder spring” in which investors forced change at companies such as Aviva and AstraZeneca. Another Financial Times summary of reaction is that Kay is “no silver bullet” and while people may agree with his views “some.. may prove challenging to implement in practice”. Some recommendations can be implemented by the industry, including investors’ forums for collective long-term engagement and good stewardship, others such as calls for asset managers to disclose all costs, including transaction costs and performance fees charged to funds, may be carried out voluntarily. Only a few may be carried out through legislation, and many others (apart from Lex) support removal of obligations for quarterly reporting and argue that managers’ time could be better spent elsewhere.
It’s a week of interesting reading for people, including many in Africa, building capital markets that are meant to serve economies, the creation of business growth and jobs, and also to encourage more long-term savings.
Discussion is very welcome!