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Operators identify growth factors amid COVID-19

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to portend uncertainty for the global business environment, stockbrokers in Nigeria have identified critical factors that will sustain their operations despite some concerns in the ecosystem.

Besides, the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS), has embarked on a series of training sessions to equip members with technical skills for identifying options for survival and business expansions despite the negative impacts of the pandemic on all economic activities.

The Chairman, Association for Securities Dealing Houses of Nigeria (ASON), Onyenwechukwu Ezeagu, explained that the Nigerian capital market was not caught unprepared by COVID-19 because dealing member firms (stockbrokers) had been subjected to minimum operating standard (MON), by the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) over the years.

According to him, these are a set of standards prescribed and enforced by the Exchange for dealing member firms to enable them to develop strong robust control and governance framework as well as effective human capital that will enable them to achieve best-in-class operations.

“The pandemic has not taken away the level the market has attained in terms of technology and ability to reach out to customers.

“The operators have been prepared for a situation where customers are connected online real-time, and we have been engaging in virtual trading. Remember that in some years past, we were all subjected to a rigorous set of MON by the NSE.

“The MON covers the entire structure of our operations, including corporate governance and human capital. The philosophy is to globalise our business and the policy has always been religiously enforced by the Exchange for enhanced healthy competition among dealing members.

“Therefore, this period only serves to put our potentials into the real test and our members are equal to the task which is evident in the fact that trading was never disrupted by the lockdown,” said Ezeagu.

Appraising the attitude of investors during the lockdown, Ezeagu described it as mixed, saying: “initially, some investors did not know that the NSE was open for business, but when we let them know, it was a great relief and they started patronising the market.

”It was a pleasant surprise to them, and this ignited some positive sentiments towards the market.“

He, however, admitted that there were concerns in the entire ecosystem regarding the degree by which COVID-19 would affect the economy, the ability of investors to keep faith, health concerns of workers across the board in the capital market, and investors, which cannot be ignored.

“It is a healthy man that will invest, and so we are concerned about the rate of spread and containment of coronavirus. We are equally concerned about the sustainability of our Business Continuity Plan deployment,” he said.

Ezeagu advised that securities dealers should assure investors that the market has always been resilient.

He also urged them to assist the government in propagating the campaign of adherence to safety by the authorities that are handling the pandemic.

Last week, CIS held a comprehensive Panels’
Discussion on, “Opportunities for
Stockbrokers: Post COVID-19
Pandemic,” on Zoom, where a five-man panel unfolded options for securities dealers to expand businesses despite the pandemic.


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