Recession: Investors lose N281bn in less than 9 months – Vanguard

•As stockbrokers lament tough operating environment

•Say they may be pushed out of business if….

By Peter Egwuatu

Investors in the nation’s stock market have lost about N281 billion of their investment value in the past eight months as the ongoing economic recession continues to hit the financial market. This is just as stockbrokers continued to lament over difficult operating environment which has placed their businesses in difficulties.

Vanguard findings showed that the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE market capitalisation, which represents the value of total investment in the stock market   by investors, dropped by N281 billion or 2.9 per cent from N9.850 trillion it opened in the first trading day of January this year to close at N9.569 trillion last week Friday.

Another stock market gauge, the NSE All share index dropped by 2.7 per cent or 783.77 points from 28, 642.25 points it opened in January to close last week at 27,599.03 points. Meanwhile, stockbrokers have said that the on-going economic recession continues to affect the financial market with dire consequences on the income streams of the capital market operators and has given them concern for their continued existence.

According to stockbrokers, “There is a deep concern that the current operating environment characterised by high interest rate, weak purchasing power, poor corporate earnings, unstable exchange rate , high inflation rate and investors’ apathy among others are fast eroding our dwindling income fuelling speculation that many of   us may be pushed   completely out of the business.

So, if the government does not intervene appropriately we may be forced to go out of business and this will affect our employees and put them in the unemployment market.” Painting the gloomy picture of the stockbrokers’ weak financial situation, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Standard Union Securities, Mr. Sehinde Adenagbe said it would be difficult for stockbrokers to break even under the current climate. “Overhead cost is rising steadily and workers are clamouring for higher pay to cope with the high cost of living. Office rent, epileptic power supply and transport costs are of great concerns to us and there are other contending issues that are eating deeply into the incomes of stockbrokers,” Adenagbe posited.

Speaking on the survival strategy, the President and Chairman of Governing Council, Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS), Mr. Oluwaseyi Abe advocated personal development on the part of the stockbrokers in order to expand their income streams. “Recession is a time to take a breath. Invest on knowledge this time and be moderate. Stockbrokers should be multitasking to be relevant on all platforms and Exchanges. Also, they should not forget the age-long advice of an investment expert, Warren Buffet whose ideals covered risk taking, savings, expectation and earnings among others as survival strategy,” Abe said. Agreeing with Abe’s submission, the Registrar and Chief Executive, CIS, Mr Adedeji Ajadi    advised stockbrokers to be more creative and ready for diversification in order to remain in business. “This is not the time to limit business opportunities to trading listed securities. What about bonds, unlisted equities and foreign exchange? “Stockbrokers are also investment advisers.

This is the right time to work with governments at various levels as consultants and advisers on how to create alternative sources of revenue, and better manage scarce resources to ride through the challenges of the economy at this time,” Ajadi said Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Network Capital Limited, Mr. Oluropo Dada said there is the need for stockbrokers to leverage their wide professional latitude to go into money market instruments by way of portfolio switching in favour of money market instruments such as Treasury bills. Dada described money market instruments as very attractive at present as the federal government is deploying them to attract foreign investors. “This possibly accounts for massive sell-offs of some stocks in the market. Stockbrokers are now buying instruments with strong fundamentals like Nestle Foods and Nigeria Breweries for proprietary trading to remain in business in this period of recession,” Dada said The Chief Executive Officer, NASD OTC   Exchange, Mr Bola Ajomale simply urged stockbrokers to wear their investment banking cap and work on buy-outs, mergers and growth of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) in order to cope with the current realities.

The Chief Executive Officer, Finawell Capital Limited, Mr.Tunde Oyekunle advised stockbrokers to consider alternative income streams such as setting up of a strong fixed income desk to trade bonds and forex. He also recommended commodity trading and Derivatives such as forward contracts to boost income in the wake of recession. Oyekunle’s view was corroborated by the Chief Dealer, Coo Hedge Securities and Investment, Mr. Samuel Ndata who urged his colleagues to diversify whatever little income in stockbroking to agriculture in order to stay afloat. Mr. David Adonri, the Chief Executive Officer, Highcap Securities Limited stated that to remain in business, stockbrokers must embark on austerity measures by cutting cost and patiently awaiting recovery of the economy.

The Relationship Officer, Foresight Securities and Investment Limited, Mr. Fakrogba Charles who noted that economy moves in cycles said that stockbrokers should advise investors to invest in value stocks as recession is not a permanent feature . In his response, the Principal Partner and Chief Executive Officer, Alicorn Consulting Limited, Mr. Segun Oye simply explained that, “recession comes with external factors that can only be managed by aggressive reduction of overhead and option of innovative diversification .

Speaking as well on the economic recession in the country, Managing Director/CEO, B. Adedipe Associates, Dr. Biodun Adedipe, said that the recession is bad news for all stakeholders, and it also demands creativity and pragmatism to reverse. He tasked the government to provide leadership by spending more, especially on infrastructure to prevent a full blown depression and push for economic recovery. Adedipe, further charged the government on the need to make business environment more friendly, ensure policy alignment with expansionary necessity and press more into transparency and value for money spending. According to him, the government needs to revisit the exchange rate policy — the current arrangement is counterproductive for an import dependent economy with weak real sector.”

Also speaking on this development, Managing Director, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, said that with the economy going into a recession, there is the likelihood of more job losses as consumer demand declines further. “I think that our economic managers at both the fiscal and monetary sides need to evolve coordinated stimulus response to inject liquidity into the System and reverse the economic decline,” he said.” He, however, urged the nation’s economy managers on why emphasis should be shifted from fighting high rate of inflation to intensifying efforts in restoring economic growth. In a similar direction, Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr. Muda Yusuf, said government should work to rekindle investors’ confidence in the economy because capital and investment flows from investors are needed to complement government’s developmental drives. His words, “government can rekindle investors’ confidence in the economy by the quality and consistency of its policies.”