Category Archives: financial reporting

Draft banking conduct and consumer finance laws in Kenya

In a move that may weed out practices that led to the introduction of interest rate capping, the Kenya government has developed a draft Financial Markets Conduct Bill for consumer finance protection.

Some clauses in the bill of interest:

  • Advertising: A person without a financial conduct license cannot put out an advertisement for the provision of credit. This also applies to building owners (billboards?), or in newspapers, magazines, radio, television.  Also, lender advertisements must be truthful. They cannot be misleading by deception.
  • Credit Limits – cards/overdrafts: Once a credit limit is approved, a financier can’t reduce the credit limits or decline to replace a lost credit card
  • Credit ReferenceNo release of  credit reports to unauthorized people
  • In-Duplum: There is also roundabout way of reintroducing the in-duplum rule. There is a clause that if a loan goes into default, the interest, fees, and other charges to be repaid cannot exceed the balance of the loan on the day it went into default.
  • Insurance: Loans cannot require a borrower to get insurance from a specific company.  
  • GuarantorsThe new laws protect guarantors and requires that they be made aware of all clauses in loan contract before they give guarantees, and with no variation to guarantor terms allowed. This is probably inspired by one guarantor and default dispute involving a cousin of the President that has seen over a dozen cases litigated in several courts over 25 years.
  • Pre-Receivership Management:  The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK)  can appoint a person to assist an institution to implement its directives when the CBK believes a bank or its officers are not in compliance with the act. The new law provides tools to assist troubled banks without shutting them down, and CBK can also order some shareholders to wind down their interest in institutions within a specific time.
  • Spam messages? Bank shall not communicate marketing messages to customers unless the customer loan agreement authorizes it.  
  • Statements: Requires all borrowers to be given term sheets before signing for loans, and a  copy of the loans contract afterwards. They are also entitled to a free statement every six months and other copies within ten days of a request.
  •  Variations: loan agreements shall not have clauses to vary interest during the loan, or be based on a different rate other than the reference rate of the lender.  
  • Wide Regulation: The new laws will apply to all providers of more than fifty loans and issuer of loans have six months to obtain the new licenses. What of loan apps?

Whether this new law which cracks down on unsavoury banking and consumer finance and behaviors will ease out the 2016 interest rate capping law while assuring parliamentarians who  championed the setting of maximum interest rates that bank behaviour will be better-regulated remains to be seen. Also if the clauses will help borrowers who have shifted to other more expensive lending platforms regardless of the consumer finance terms and interest rates charged there.

But the bill also creates a host of new financial regulators including; (i) a Financial Markets Conduct Authority (ii) Financial Services Tribunal (iii) Conduct Compensation Fund Board (iv) Financial Sector Ombudsman (v) an Ombudsman Board who may trip over other existing financial regulators.The bill is in the public participation stage and interested persons can send in feedback on its clauses to ps_at_treasury.go.ke before June 5.

When to hire a smart accountant

 A question I often get, is when should I hire hire an accountant to manage the books of my small or growing company? This should provide some answers. Reposted with permission from the author..article first appeared in the Nation.

Accountants help out in the growth of your business. They handle more than just tax and payroll. This question has become all too familiar. “When should I consider hiring an accountant?” It depends on your immediate needs. Out of your needs, you will either get a full-time accountant, part-time one or contract one.

A good reason for hiring an accountant however is to create a business plan, form a company, apply for loan, during tax audit or simply in order to delegate some duties. However, since we have a number of rogue ones out there, recruit your accountant carefully.

Here are some moments when an accountant would be a smart hire.

  • Say you need to write down some financial projections, a business plan or the usual business finance management and reporting. An accountant can help you use an accounting software to generate reports.
  • The earlier you hire one, the better. This way, you benefit from sound financial knowledge. It saves you a lot of money and helps you mitigate risks associated with poor financial management.
  • An accountant can also advise you on the best legal structure for your business. For example, it is a fact that you will have business liabilities. When you operate as a sole trader, you could be held personally liable for business deals whereas in a limited liability company, the burden of the enterprise is limited to its assets.
  • SME accounting can easily become complex when you do it yourself, and can get overwhelming since you are stretched across many control points. An accountant can help you fix your cashflow by computing key business metrics that help you ensure that the outfit is on track. Say ratio of salaries and other employee payments to total revenue, cashflow analysis, your gross margins and net margins. These are reports that help you understand your business’ financial standing at a glance. It is even better if you are using an accounting software that is online as this can allow even an external accountant to review your financial records for regular reporting. These kind of reports help you monitor the pulse of your business. With the reports, an accountant is able to offer input on how to improve your business model, pricing or even inventory.
  • Generally, you need an accountant to prepare and file tax returns. Although we have software that simplifies this, it is always safe to get a seasoned hand to deal with the taxman. A good accountant should help you complete and file all legal and compliance company returns, prepare regular annual statements of accounts, handle your payroll, ensure all individual taxes and payments are recorded and bank reconciliation is done monthly. A good accountant will help you meet tax obligations. If external auditors are coming, your accountant should ensure that all necessary reports are ready.
  • You might need an accountant when applying for a loan, overdraft or securing a fresh investment. An accountant will help you develop the financial statements your bank will need. Your accountant can help you know if the loan interest, terms and conditions are favourable.

Overall, at some point, you will need to hire an accountant, so recruit wisely!

@DorcasMuthoni is the founder of OpenWorld

EABL 2008 AGM

The 86th Annual general meeting (AGM) of East African Breweries was held on 30/10/08 at Safari Park. The actual meeting business (passing of accounts, election of directors, and approval of auditors) all took about 10 minutes. There was only one question on the accounts and the rest of the meeting was left to a myriad of shareholder questions.

Why Financial Markets Crashed: the meeting began with a talk from the former chairman of the Nairobi Stock exchange Kibuga Kariithi (Director Afrika Investment Bank). He traced a path of American economic exuberance, greedy investment bankers, sub-prime-mortgages, careless insurers which all led to a liquidity crunch and loss or confidence in the markets – eventually reached Kenya

He exhorted EABL shareholders that their company was strong, with growing sales, profits, products and almost 7 billion shillings in the bank. He said the market would remain so for a few more months, maybe with a few more bank crashes, but the fundamentals of EABL and other companies were strong and this was a time for shareholder not to panic or sell, but to consider buying more shares.

Mini-controversies
Crap Calendar: one of the goodies handed out was a (single-sheet) wall calendar. Which was not well received by several shareholders. It was called, cheap, not in keeping with the image of the company, not as good as the one which was given to distributors, eventually even the chairman had to admit that it was a poor quality item.

End for Chami?: Mr. Chami is a (small) shareholder in almost every listed company and a feature at almost all NSE-listed company AGM’s held. He unusually is the first to ask any questions and almost all directors know hi. He usually asks but occasionally hits the mark. Today he got off to a bad start giving a 5 minutes speech that led to a round of boos by shareholders. When he finally got to asking questions, he was challenged by the chairman on the accuracy and validity of his questions – and told not to waste the time of the other 700 shareholders present if he had no questions. Hope it does not spread to other meetings

Mr. Chami

Trivia some questions asked by shareholders
– Start with prayers
– More environmental plans; will consider energy savings from steam and have participated in forestry activities in Ndakaini and may look at maul when government sorts out the matter
– Unclaimed dividend: a bill has been prepared on unclaimed assets that will soon be in parliament after which companies will get guidelines on compliance
– Is Alvaro alcoholic? no it is not
– can dividend be cashed at banks?
– give more bonus shares please?
– give more dividend to long term shareholders asked by an old lady who has been a shareholder for 35 years)
– can we have cheaper AGM’s? e.g have the meetings at a venue like Kasarani Stadium and serve African foods, not expensive hotel foods that give high blood pressure!

Goodies: T-shirt, Calendar (see above), Safari Park Lunch box [with meat (big chicken slice, cake, beef & cheese sandwich) fruit (banana, apple), drinks (yoghurt, alvaro, water, orange juice)]

Lunch on the controversial calendar

Back to accounting school

Back in school there was new maths (though I forget what that was about) and now there’s new accounts coming with no net income and replaces net profit with a total comprehensive income figure that includes gains and losses now kept in other parts of the financial statements such as currency and hedge fluctuations. It also combines the balance sheet and cash flow statements resulting in assets and liabilities being group together as operating, investing and financing categories.