Category Archives: NSE investor awareness

Stanbic Bank “It Can Be” launch

Stanbic Kenya has launched “It Can Be,” a new way of engaging with customers, particularly with women and small & medium enterprises. Stanbic is the second-oldest bank in Kenya, having started over 100 years ago and grew to later merge with CFC Bank in 2007. Today, it is a Tier-I bank with $3 billion assets in Kenya and serves over 200,000 customers with services in corporate & retail banking, wealth management, investments, and insurance.

“It Can Be” symbolises a new push to engage with customers, in the new decade, beyond Stanbic’s 26 branches in the country. The bank has transformed and adopted digital-based solutions to serve its customers who have also largely shifted to online and digital after business disruptions with the emergence of Covid-19. One new Stanbic tool is automating core functions in documentary trade finance using artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) for real-time counter-party verification, giving customers quick feedback while reducing trade risks.

The “It Can Be” brand ambassador is Brigid Kosgei, the women’s marathon world-record holder.

Stanbic Kenya CEO Charles Mudiwa spoke at the “It Can Be” launch and mentioned how Covid-19 had shown the importance of relationships and standing with communities. He added that the bank’s customer focus had shifted to being relationship-based and Stanbic has embraced four policy initiatives of funding, markets, business competitiveness and influencing policy. In its third-quarter 2020 financial results, Stanbic Kenya announced that it had extended loan restructurings to 23% of its customers, at no cost, to cushion them from the effects of Covid-19. It also reduced the interest charged on existing loans and waived charges for using the bank’s digital platforms.

Stanbic is the largest bank group in Africa, with $151 billion in assets and a presence in twenty countries on the continent. Its largest shareholder is the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s largest bank that owns 20.1%. Stanbic Kenya is listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) and shareholders receive a high dividend yield of 8%. Stanbic Africa is also increasing its shareholding of the Kenyan bank to 75% by buying shares from other shareholders.

African Investor? Think Global

Huge potential financial returns from global markets:

The financial markets have started like a rocket this year. The main global indices have incredible resilience through the current pandemic and political turmoil. The German Stock index (DAX30) started this year up 80% from its March 2020 low. The US NASDAQ closed off last year with a gain of 43.64% and since the opening of 2021 all the main US indices (Dow Jones, S&P500, NASDAQ) keep relentlessly printing new all-time highs.

Some of the strongest performing global stocks continue to be those that are servicing the needs of a planet in lockdown. For example, ZOOM (ZM), a video communications company that has kept the world connected and has benefitted from a 2020 share price increase of 396%. Peloton (PTON) brought health and fitness into the planet’s living rooms and was rewarded with a 434% increase.

While these stocks are striving to improve lives during the pandemic and beyond, Tesla (TSLA) continues to fight against the global climate crisis. Traders from across the world have bought into the Tesla story, and those that have held the stock since 2019 are smiling with a return of well over 1,000% (none more so than the newly crowned richest man on Earth – Tesla CEO, Elon Musk). On Friday 8th January an incredible $62 billion of Tesla shares were traded, one of the largest daily stock trading volumes in history.

These volumes and returns are not just concentrated on equities. Bitcoin, considered by some as ‘digital gold’, has had an incredible run over the past few months, recently smashing through $40,000. The ‘digital gold’ has returned over 40% to investors in the first trading week of this year alone. Actual gold also performed well, giving a 19% return over the past year. So, equities, indices, commodities, cryptocurrencies- most global asset classes can reward those with access.

Don’t miss out on the global bull-run:

African investors are wise to compare these potential returns to local markets. Many of the African stock exchanges were negative over the past 12 months, with some of the larger ones finishing 2020 down 7 – 15%. The issue here is that most investors in these regions are still predominantly trading local shares/ equities and bonds. Fixed income products are showing extremely poor returns across the world, so the net result for these people is that they are missing the huge global bull-run and it just isn’t fair. It is the mission of my company EGM Securities/ fxPesa to help resolve this issue. The era of holding solely long positions in local stocks and bonds has gone. Africans need and want so much more- and we are determined to give global access and education to anyone that seeks it. We see it as our responsibility to help improve financial literacy across the continent by relentlessly educating the population.

Expect more volatility this year:

On the topic of financial literacy, it is important that we note that we are certainly in a bubble fed by several factors, not least the incredible amount of stimulus from global central banks – more than $9 trillion has been pumped into various markets. There is certainly a disconnect between the global economy symbolised as ‘Main Street’ and the Stock Markets, or ‘Wall Street’. Last week there was a poor jobless claim print (Non-Farm Payroll or NFP) showing unemployment increasing, but in parallel main indices were at record highs. Commentators are calling this a ‘Rational Bubble’, as prices are inflated but with there not being an expected end to the money printing, the bubble looks set to continue.

However, a correction (10% stock market drop) or bear market (over 20% drop) is inevitable. A correction occurs, on average, yearly. A bear market occurs every 3-5 years. We must remember Warren Buffett’s most well-known advice- “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful”, and for sure the world is being incredibly greedy with the returns they are getting. This is the reason why Tesla and Bitcoin volumes are through the roof. So, if a downturn is inevitable, Africans need the ability to trade and profit from falling markets (going short) – something unknown to many traders in the region.

If you’re an African investor you must think global:

Taking this all in, my point is this – if you are an African investor you must think global. By doing this, the investor can tap into heavily traded markets moving with potentially larger returns. You should find a brokerage that you trust and that, like mine, allows access to global indices, foreign exchange (fx), commodities and shares, so that you can diversify your portfolio away from just local equities and bonds. It’s important that you educate yourself in financial products that will allow you to benefit from falling markets. By doing this and constantly learning, you will be on a great path towards financial freedom.

Follow me @bjmyersUK

A guest post by Brian Myers, the CEO at Equiti Capital UK.

Absa Kenya on Wills, Trusts and Succession Planning

Absa Kenya has been holding thought leadership seminars since their rebrand in February 2020.

This week they had an investor education connect session on wealth management, with a focus on wills, trusts and succession planning which featured Madabhushi Soundarajan (Managing Director, MTC Trust), Peter Waiyaki (Partner at Mboya, Wangong’u & Waiyaki Advocates) and Anthony Mwithiga (CEO, Absa Asset Management).

Some excerpts 

Wills:

  • People don’t do wills because they think they have nothing – but anyone over 18 who has been working has something to give. 
  • Another excuse of some educated Kenyans is they think they are courting death or will be marked for death by their families
  • Can do a will in an hour or five years. It does not have to be expensive or complex.  
  • A will should have two things to help a will (i)  a residual clause. assets grow after the will make sure any other assets be distributed the way the old “any other assets  (you don’t have o make a new will (ii) creation of a testamentary trust. 
  • Let your family know where your will is kept. If two wills emerge, the latter one will be used. If a will is destroyed, it is not valid.
  • If someone remarries, it invalidates a will because they are considered to have new dependents. 
  • Do not include matrimonial property should not be in a will. Or joint owner – when someone dies the spouse inherits the full property. They should not be in the will. 
  • Also don’t put investment or trust property in a will.
  • Proof of dependence: wives and children do not need to prove they are dependents. This also includes conceived but not yet born and adopted kids. But parents or siblings of a deceased must prove they are dependent. Also in Kenya, a husband/man will have to prove  he was being supported by a woman.
  • Covid situation: Oral wills are only valid for 3 months and must be mentioned in the presence of two witnesses who are not beneficiaries. And for a written will, someone in a hospital, surrounded by relatives is not considered to have the freedom to write a will. 
  • Without a will, only the family of a deceased person can inherit from the estate. No gifts to charities, churches etc. are recognized. 
  • Do not put assets in a will that already have nominated beneficiaries elsewhere e.g. life insurance, pension funds. 

Trusts:

  • Have the philosophy of giving things up as you will nor carry your wealth to the grave – so start thinking about preservation.
  • Banks are getting worried about lending to trusts. 
  • A trust is not a legal entity, a foundation is a better legal entity that can be created to run a school or a hospital.
  • Most common are discretionary trusts and others are ones that founders can create to run businesses for their families
  • A trust is a lengthy document. In a trust, you can exclude rogue children. 
  • To set up a trust; define the objectives, the trust structure, the beneficiaries, the trustees (ideally a corporate) and seek professional advice. 

Investments:

  • Use professionals e.g. in a unit trust to administer investments if you are too busy. 
  • If you have a vision, take a lead and invest in it so that others will follow.  
  • the realty over the last five year is the property prices can go down, unbelievable to many investors of 15 years ago. Covid has hit offices and malls, but there are still investments in residential, logistic and warehousing ventures.
  • Attributes of an ideal asset; gives returns, it should grow, it should be liquid, be understandable and It should also be secure (legal ownership & from damage). Individuals and families have investment portfolios, as it is not possible to get one asset to full all these attributes. 
  • The investment universe encompasses money markets, treasury bills, bank deposits, and listed shares which now includes a New Gold ETF.  Also unlisted shares (shares in a business stems/OTC), real estate, and alternatives such as derivatives, commodities, currencies and infrastructure projects which is a new asset class open to pension funds.

Suggestions:

  • Everyone should discover what type of investor they are and what stage they are on the life journey to understand what to invest in. 
  • Think investments beyond Covid-19.
  • Write a will today; there is no way of running from your dependents –  except through trusts, which allow one to better organize estates.
  • The best non-taxable investment in Kenya is infrastructure bonds.

AFMI 2020 shows African financial markets resilience

The findings of the 2020 African Financial Markets Index (AFMI) report were highlighted in Nairobi today for a year in which countries face economic and medical challenges from COVID-19.

The fourth edition of the AFMI report by the Absa Group and the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF) now measures 23 countries that encompass two-thirds of the continent’s population and 80% of its GDP. The countries are ranked by six assessments of investment attractiveness and this year, Eswatini, Lesotho and Malawi were added to the Index. 

South Africa remained on top, followed by Mauritius, and surprisingly Nigeria, which, along with Morocco, Ghana and Seychelles, made great strides to improve. Kenya, which was number three in 2019, dropped to number seven this year. Overall, 14 of the 23 countries scored above the median mark, a great improvement from the first index when only 6 of the 17 countries achieved this.

COVID-19 has had different impacts on African countries, but as Jeremy Awori Absa Kenya CEO said, even with the slowed-growth in the first half of the year, much was still expected from the continent that has a rising middle-class, and rising urban population. He added that growth would come from developing open, transparent and well-regulated financial markets.

Absa Economist, Jeff Gable said Africa cited some developments on the continent towards financial inclusion and making exchanges accessible to retail investors. These included Eswaitni’s automated trading platform and the Nairobi Securities Exchange’s revamped mobile app for retail investors with Dar es Salaam also working on a similar one. He spoke of moves to encouraging more funds to invest within the continent that saw Lesotho require its pension fund managers to invest locally (currently just 3% of assets are in the country), the launch of a derivatives market in Nigeria, and Ethiopia drafting legislation for a stock exchange.

In terms of sustainable finance, Kenya had its first green bond, Egypt had the first one in the MENA region, and Nigeria is working on its third green bond. Also, the African Development Bank was one of the first institutions to issue a financial instrument to fight the COVID-19 pandemic as it issued a $3 billion social-bond tranche. 

Danae Kyriakopoulou of OMFIF spoke of Kenya’s drop which was mainly in the “access to foreign exchange” measure where which it was ranked tenth after having topped the pillar just two years ago. This was partly due to the perception of the currency exchange rate. And on market transparency, she said that Kenya has few firms that have global credit ratings, compared to Nigeria, South Africa, and Mauritius.

She added that a strong local investor base was a source of long-term capital and a financial markets shock absorber of volatility, and that Namibia has the highest pension assets under management per capita on the index.  In terms of protection of minority shareholders, Kenya does well on that but it also needs to adopt enforcement of international financial master agreements (ISDA) as a key area of improvement. Kenya is also part of a pilot Africa Exchange Linkages Project to promote intra-African investment flows between the stock exchanges of Nairobi, Johannesburg, Casablanca, Egypt, Nigeria, Mauritius and the BRVM in West Africa.

George Asante, Head of Global Markets at Absa, said that the impact of COVID-19 was not as drastic on African financial markets as they had developed more resilience through having regulators work in uniform. This was in comparison to the 2008 global financial crisis which had a big disruption on African markets resulting in bond yields shooting up 30%. But he cautioned that African governments should work hard to remove the uncertainties that are still in the prices of their bonds, to attain lower borrowing costs in future.

The 2020 AFMI report by Absa Group and OMFIF can be downloaded here.

Money-WiseKE: Safeguarding families using Wills

Last week, Money-Wise with Rina Hicks had a nice talk on “Safeguarding your Family after you’re gone: Wills and More”. Her guest was Leah Kiguatha, a family law expert who said that in the court processes encountered, only 10% of Kenyans of African descent have written wills.

Other excerpts of new stuff (from a male perspective!)

  • Why write a will? Make a decision, as if you don’t decide, someone else, who is handling a hundred other disputes, who does not know the pain and peculiarities of a family, will make that decision for you. Whether you write a will or not, there will be a court process.
  • Spousal Status Changes with Death: If a man has a secret wife and kids, he should mention and provide for them in the will. When he is alive, they may not be recognized, but once he dies, the law allows them to become wives and dependents for purpose of succession. (Laws made by a heavily-male parliament in the 1980s!)
  • Register Land: As joint ownership or in common as this enables you to by-pass the will process. Register land with someone so they are not harassed when you die. Also if a wife dies, and she expects that her spouse will remarry, through in-common ownership, she can ensure that 50% of the matrimonial house passes to her children.
  • Bank Access: Have your spouse or some older children to be signatories to a bank account and know your card PINs. If you are the only one who can access money, your family will be scrambling to feed mourners, pay school fees, and be disturbed by landlords – as it will be a year before they can access that money and after hiring a lawyer.
  • Update Records: Check your will every 5 years. Also, update your insurance, SACCO and pension beneficiary details every few years. Insurance does not have to go through a court process if a beneficiary is nominated a beneficiary, but if different people show up to claim it, they will leave it to courts to settle. Sometimes, as a widow is mounting, a brother or mother of the deceased has rushed to the employer to claim they are the intended beneficiary.
  • Reduce Unintended Beneficiaries: A will safeguards your family and minimizes disputes, and as dependent fight it out, assets and estates go to waste, or are exploited by opportunistic people. If you don’t have good records, squatters or a county government will benefit along with banks, insurance, and the Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority. It is estimated that over Kshs 200 billion deposited in banks belongs to families who are awaiting court grants to release the money to them.
  • Oral wills: Are only valid for three months unless one is in the military. Also, they must be witnessed (heard) by two people, who are not beneficiaries.

The full hour is online, and you can watch it here.