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STANDARD CHARTERED’S GAUTAM DUGGAL ON WHY AFRICA IS A GOOD BET FOR RETURNS

Gautam Duggal, Standard Chartered Bank’s Regional Head of Wealth Management for Africa, the Middle East and Europe, speaks to Forbes Africa on his experience advising people how to invest their money and why Africa is a good bet for returns.

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FREE DOWNLOAD: FORBES AFRICA’S WEALTH MANAGEMENT SUPPLEMENT 

‘HERE FOR GOOD, HERE FOR AFRICA’ | Download Forbes Africa’s Wealth Management supplement

Africa is home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world and the stats show how moneyed its populations are; high-net-worth individuals, according to the World Wealth Report, grew by 8.1% in Africa last year, with overall affluence increasing by 10.7% – faster than anywhere else in the world.

“We definitely see this trend continuing far beyond 2018. There is an entrepreneurial spirit sweeping the region. As we see technology permeate all areas of the economy, individuals are using this access to start new businesses and expand beyond city centers and geographies. It’s these entrepreneurs who are creating wealth for themselves and their families,” says Duggal.

The wealth needs of Africa’s diverse, growing middle class population, estimated at 300 million people, are intricate, with most countries being emerging economies and wealth being a relatively new notion for many. The African Lions report defines the continent’s middle class as “not in poverty” and having “disposable income and discretion”. The African middle class, says the report, also has a tertiary education that has been completed or is underway; they have money to fall back on in times of emergencies and access to a computer with email and internet.

“This particular growing middle class is looking for means to save for their first home, pay for their children’s education and set money aside for retirement. In many cases, they are the first ones in their families to attain surplus wealth, so often, there is a need to care for their aging parents or other relatives,” notes Duggal.

Saving early and doing so prudentially is key, however there is a need to dispel the sentiment that a considerable amount of cash is required to start investing. Many banks cater for basic savings plans that allow for a fixed amount to be put away each month. Standard Chartered, for example, offers a vehicle where money can be invested in a diversified portfolio of globally-recognised mutual funds. In South Africa, tax-free savings plans that are comprised of unit trusts and other investment vehicles intended to bolster savings are also gaining popularity, with the likes of Allan Gray and Old Mutual offering similarly structured products.

THERE ARE CHALLENGES WHICH NEED TO BE ADDRESSED BUT I WOULD SAY THERE ARE FAR MORE OPPORTUNITIES THAN CHALLENGES.

The best place for one to start creating wealth, Duggal tells us, is to become financially literate and to understand the options available as an investor. “Of course, every investor is unique and their investing is solely dependent on their individual client risk profile and personal preferences.”

On the trends in Africa, Standard Chartered sees real estate as a favored asset class for many with developers turning to mixed-use projects as a means to boost their bottom lines. There is also a marked increase in technology start-ups with the rise of mobile devises – an IDC report shows that the African smartphone market reached an estimated 95.37 million units in 2016; although feature phones still rank number one, homegrown manufacturers such as Mint Mobile in South Africa are coming to the fore with a ‘Made in Africa’ solution to meet local smartphone and tablet demand. And while asset classes invested in Africa’s natural resources and commodities are popular, a portion of their money can also be found in offshore investments.

From the bank’s perspective, diversification across both asset classes and geographies is vital to reducing overall risk, which is unique to the individual with investment power dependent on their existing risk profile as well as personal preference. But generating wealth substantial enough to be able to invest it is not without its challenges, which includes high inflation, illiquid markets, a lack of information and credible research data however, Duggal is confident the pros outweigh the cons.

“We are optimistic that many African economies will continue to grow in the long run amidst certain shocks here and there. There are challenges which need to be addressed but I would say there are far more opportunities than challenges,” he says.

MILLENNIAL MENTALITY

There is a growing consensus that the millennial generation currently has the greatest buying power – projections put this number at between 80-90 million in America alone and thus, millennials are at the core of the majority of industries today. Wealth management is no exception.

The millennial generation, in particular, has been exposed to significant global, social and economic change in relation to previous generations. Millennials are distinguished by their impatient nature and have different attitudes towards how to manage their assets. It is for this reason that Duggal believes that it is crucial to have a conversation with the bank’s younger private banking and investment clients to explain their investment profiling and look at how they can invest their money, saying that “a millennial investor has no issue with understanding the math behind a solution, yet, we lose them over a traditional paper and pencil explanation. Millennials want to understand how the advisor thinks and analyses through a screen and a dynamic tech solution. It is important to get them to see how the right kind of advisory platform can help them make an informed decision in terms of their investment.”

A key driving factor amongst millennials in their decision making is their need to change the world. According to EY, a millennial is twice as likely to invest their money in a company that is focused on social or environmental issues. This bodes well for sustainable investments, which currently represent 18% of assets under management in wealth and asset management classes.

“They need to know where their money is put, and they want to make sure that this it serves their purposes. This would require vast research and a restructuring of product offerings,” explains Duggal.

HOW DO THEY DO IT?

So what qualifies Standard Chartered to advise its clients on where to put their money?

“We have strong advisory capabilities and a specialist model, which makes us unique in the market. We also leverage on our local market knowledge. We have had a presence for over 100 years in many of the countries we operate in… We are deeply rooted in Africa and can confidently say that we are ‘Here For Good, Here For Africa’. The bank also has a global footprint. It is because of this that we are able to combine global, regional and local knowledge to best serve our customers,” says Duggal.

From within, Duggal believes in the importance of nurturing the bank’s young talent. Standard Chartered has programmes to invest in its talent across all levels of seniority – a leadership programme aimed at its senior managers and heads of business helps them grow within the business. Similar programmes are in place for junior employees with the objective of upskilling them, where they can travel on short-term assignments for up to a year to more established markets to help them to gain a better understanding of how these markets work.

As business as a whole moves into a more global space, it is more important than ever to develop programmes that aim to bring about a diverse range of skills and experience and nurture talent by encouraging mentorship at all levels – the Boyden Talent Management Trends in the Banking Industry 2017-2018 report notes that “The best talent wants to work for innovative companies that offer learning opportunities and financial institutions must win the talent war in order to succeed in their efforts to recruit and retain individuals most suited for their organisation. This flexible and focused workforce will help build an organisation that is digitally savvy and flexible enough to adapt to current and future changes. To this end, having leaders and recruiters with experience in transformational change is essential.”

With the prospects in Africa riper than ever before, we can certainly look forward to seeing Standard Chartered putting their money on the continent, along with their clients.

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FOCUS ON CAMEROON: The Heart Of Africa Unleashing Its Potential From Within

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“As a source of creativity and vitality, our diversity blends harmoniously with our desire to live together, to lay the groundwork for our constant quest for the consolidation of our country’s unity.” – President Paul Biya

Many consider Cameroon to be a source of life for Africa due to its size, connectivity, advantageous position and accessible coastline. It serves as an entryway for other landlocked countries and its ports position Cameroon’s economy in a rising trend, registering 4.2% annual growth, with estimations that it will reach 5% in 2020. Much of Cameroon’s economic growth is due to its diversity, and under the guidance of President Paul Biya and PM Joseph Dion Ngute, Cameroon is dedicated to solidifying its role as a major economic player by improving its infrastructure, finance, energy, and ICT sectors, among others. These positive changes are set to create new opportunities for investment and improve the country’s rating in the ease of doing business index. 

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In the infrastructure sector, Cameroon is working towards improving its foundations on which they can build the future. The port sector is building new and modernising its ports to enhance trade, exports and transportation. For example, the Kribi port is a new port that is designed to ease the flow of traffic from the current ports that experience high volume. As the younger port in Cameroon, the port is also well located in the centre of Africa, making it a prime location for new investment opportunities. “It is one of the deepest [ports] in the area of the Gulf of Guinea, and our infrastructure and equipment are very modern,” says Patrice Melom, General Manager of the Port Authority of Kribi.

Additionally, the infrastructure and tourism sectors are combining forces with the establishment of new routes for Cameroon’s airline, Camair-Co. As the airline expands from domestic to inter-regional and intercontinental flights, the economy of Cameroon will enjoy a large influx of Forex to boost the economy. Not to mention, Cameroon’s new Japoma Sports Complex project, will aid Cameroon greatly as they host the 2021 African Cup of Nations, an event that is destined to show visitors from all over the world just what Cameroon has to offer. Additionally, this stadium will continue to help the country prosper, boosting other sectors.Tufan Sercan, Regional Director of Yenigün Construction Company, says, “Japoma will re- ally be a nice complex, it should certainly attract real estate.”

As the country advances in infrastructure and tourism, the energy sector is ready to handle the influx of persons visiting. To begin, Cameroon is investing in clean energy as a means to eliminate reliance on imported fuels. Universal access to energy is at the top of the Cameroonian government’s agenda. Not only is the sector working towards enhancing its electricity sector, they are also exploring natural gas options that will make the country more self-sufficient. Not to mention, the country has a wealth of renewable sources of energy, such as hydro, solar, geothermal, biomass and wind energy. The successful implementation of Lom Pangar dam has allowed Cameroon to decrease its dependence on thermal power plants. The plant guarantees less cost and pollution, not to mention an additional 700 GWh of hydroelectric generation, almost twice that of a thermal power station that runs on heavy fuel oil. Dr Theodore Nsangou states, “These efforts are why the World Bank cites the Lom Pangar Project as a successful model of hydropower development.”

In today’s world, finance and ICT are closely related. As the coverage of internet access throughout the country has exploded from 4.3% in 2013 to 43.6% in 2018, more Cameroonians are connected now than ever. Taking that into consideration, the financial sector is digitising its services to make sure that financial inclusion is a thing of the past. Ecobank, for example, recognises that digitalisation is one of the biggest changes the Cameroonian financial sector is experiencing today, and they see it as an opportunity to strengthen its role as the digital leader of the market. “With our services, clients can send money to anybody anywhere there is an Ecobank,” says Gwendoline Nzo-Nguty Abunaw, Managing Director of Ecobank.

There is an old proverb that states, “There lies a lion in every heart.” As Cameroon is one of the hearts of Africa, we can see that this proverb holds true for the potential of the country and its unique place in Africa. Through preparations of infrastructure, which lead directly into aiding the tourism sector and motivate other sectors such as energy, ICT and finance, it is clear that Cameroon is preparing for a prosperous future that will allow the lion’s roar to be heard from all over the world.

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The Laws Of Impactful Banking

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Human rights icons such as Albie Sachs and Dulla Omar shaped the early career choices of Yasmin Masithela, the Managing Executive of Transactional Banking at Absa Corporate and Investment Banking. These human rights lawyers inspired her to pursue a career in law spurred by hope to have impact on the South African society.

Masithela chose Corporate Law and after graduating and went into private practice with Webber Wentzel Attorneys and later an Associate at Siemens in the Project and Export Finance Division. The lure of being able to self-determine would soon become great, and Masithela joined forces with professional friends to form their own law practice.

She became a founding partner at Phukubje Pierce & Masithela Attorneys, where among other roles, Masithela was Head of Mergers, Acquisitions and Project Finance.  The young and aspiring firm was idyllic and passionate about making a difference, but collectively they had little experience as entrepreneurs at the time.

READ MORE | The Evolution Of Compliance In The Banking Sector

The fine balance between survival and aspiration that most entrepreneurs struggle with quickly became their reality, topped off with the common start-up challenge of having to wear multiple hats and struggling to break through in a traditional professional services industry.

“At the time we were idealistic – all we wanted to do was support our clients to protect their businesses and to grow,” she says, “only to find ourselves bogged down in multiple other mundane tasks and responsibilities necessary to keep the lights on. It was a constant roller coaster of highs and lows, feast and famine. I learned a lot that is permanently emblazoned in my mind – small business owners need a more supportive tax regime and help with managing cash flow and establishing structure that allows them to be viable.”

Masithela took the difficult decision to leave the partnership and go back into the corporate space. Some of her partners chose to stay in the business and they have fared very well.

Masithela’s stint as a free agent was short lived – she subsequently entered the corporate sector again and joined Absa in 2011. At Absa, she rose through the executive ranks, occupying various key roles as General Counsel and Head of Compliance for the Wealth, Investment Management and Insurance business before her appointment to the Absa’s Group Executive Committee as the Chief Compliance Officer in 2014.

READ MORE | People And Culture In The Workplace

In 2018 she took on an expanded role as the Chief Executive for Group Strategic Services – a portfolio that drove the group’s strategy including digital strategy, as well as the Human Resources and Culture agenda of the enterprise. The role allowed Masithela to play a key role in embedding the group’s new strategy and a renewed focus on its corporate culture under the new brand.

In March 2019 she took on a new challenge to run a substantial P&L as the Managing Executive for Transactional Banking within Absa’s Corporate and Investment Bank (CIB) business.

Masithela admits the transition from a specialist lawyer to a “generalist leader” is never an easy one, but emphasizes that this is what enterprise leadership requires – specialists who turn into generalists, with the ability to translate the vision of the group and lead many colleagues and other specialists into executing and delivering the vision. That said, generalists still must know enough about all facets of their business in order to run the business.

“I think analytical skills and system thinking is a natural by-product of being trained in Law, and in a large way eased my journey. There is also a lot to be said about leaning into opportunity, owning your seat at the table and being very deliberate about it,” she says.

She relishes the opportunity to provide strategic input and support to the overall Absa CIB business under the leadership of Chief Executive Charles Russon. “CIB’s strategy is grounded on growing primacy, which has a large dependency on the business I am responsible for,” Masithela explains.

“Transformation and Innovation are also critical for the bank as both our corporate and retail customers rapidly adopt digital technology. I am fascinated by and focused on our digital strategy, and with keeping up with global trends in corporate banking. We see a big transition for our industry to being customer-led and I am excited about the role I can play in this space within the CIB footprint and across the continent,” she says.

Like many in the industry, Masithela is concerned about the current tough economic environment in South Africa which is the bank’s largest market. There are strong economic headwinds across the African continent in the markets where Absa operates, but she sees opportunities even in this uncertain environment, by focusing on customer centricity using what she describes as “a clear pragmatic, service oriented approach” to drive growth in Transactional Banking.

 “Transactional banking is about transforming our client’s business through products and platforms of the bank that interact seamlessly with their business in order to help them operate with flexibility across their value chains, and to grow. That is Absa’s strength. Our strong presence across the continent helps facilitate the growth ambition of many of our clients, and indeed we often even help ignite those ambitions in some cases,” Masithela says.

Outside of work, the proud mother of three says time spent with her children grounds her and is a deep sense of comfort. Masithela enjoys other personal pursuits such as long-distance running, swimming and reading.

“When we were growing up, my parents kept the entire series of Encyclopaedia Britannica proudly displayed in the living room – that was our google back then. We were not allowed to say you didn’t know how to find the answer to anything – you go look it up!

This probably explains how I ended up going to law school where before the advent of digital research, we spent hundreds of hours scouring over journals and precedents. Today my reading tastes vary from cook books to autobiographies and science fiction.”

Travel is a passion she has grown to enjoy, and which gives her the opportunity to sample cuisines around the world, meet new people and experience new cultures. “I especially enjoy travel within the African continent where our history and heritage are truly rich and vibrant,” she says. Exploring new restaurants feeds her cooking passion and “guilty pleasure” of experimenting with new flavours.

“Good food need not be complex or high end … it’s the little things that make for a fantastic culinary experience: quality ingredients, technique, creativity, ambiance and value… and isn’t that a euphemism for life in general?”

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The Evolution Of Compliance In The Banking Sector

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Lindelwe Zwane, the Managing Executive: Compliance at Absa Corporate and Investment Banking says the role of compliance in the financial services sector has changed significantly over the years. Compliance has and continues to evolve to meet the ever increasing demands and complexity of financial regulation, she says.

“Compliance has to evolve from traditional methods of managing compliance towards integrated risk management using automation to leapfrog compliance from gatekeeper to game changer.

“To meet the demands of a rapidly changing financial services industry, the compliance function has to shift its focus by using data insights to inform decision making and creating value for the business,” she says.

READ MORE | People And Culture In The Workplace

She says there has been an increase in the use of robotics process automation and predictive analytics for risk assessment, monitoring and testing, complaints management, surveillance and regulatory reporting.  “This creates efficiency and saves costs in the long run,” Zwane says.

Zwane, who assumed her position in 2017 has a big task ahead of her.

“As the CIB Chief Compliance Officer, I am primarily responsible for overseeing the Compliance Programme for CIB globally to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and policies of the bank. I am also responsible for safeguarding the reputation of the bank and driving culture change within the organisation,” she explains.

READ MORE | The Laws Of Impactful Banking

A qualified lawyer with 18 years post qualification experience, Zwane has worked in various roles in the industry including as a Legal Manager at Deloitte and as Senior Legal Counsel for Deutsche Bank in South Africa. She joined Absa in 2015.

She describes her rise in the corporate world as a journey of self-discovery and reinventing herself through learning. “This has helped me shift my mind-set and opened up new growth opportunities and challenges,” says Zwane, who leads a team of 30 professionals in her division.

She agrees that finding a perfect balance between work, personal and family life is always important, and this she achieves by being 100% present.

“Wendy Tan in her book Wholeness in a Disruptive World (2017) says balancing is not a 50:50 compromise. Its 100:100 over time. We need to be, think and act whole to do our best at work. This means that work life balance does not have to be a zero sum game,” Zwane says.

She handles pressure by staying focused on the goals to be accomplished and asking for help if she needs it.

Scanning the future, Zwane says in the next five to 10 years, she would like to be in a role where she can continually deepen and diversify her skills to become an enterprise leader. What is her advice to young, upcoming women professionals?  “Lift as you rise. We need women to invest in women,” she says.

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