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Nigeria’s securities dealers affirm business continuity amid concerns

As Covid-19 lockdown continues to portend uncertainty for the global business environment, Securities Dealers (Stockbrokers) in Nigeria have identified critical factors that would continue to sustain their operations.

Amid some concerns in the ecosystem, the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) has embarked on series of training sessions to equip its members with technical know-how for identifying options for survival and business expansions despite the negative impacts of the pandemic on all economic activities.

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

The Chairman, Association for Securities Dealing Houses of Nigeria (ASHON), Onyenwechukwu Ezeagu said that the Nigerian Capital Market was not caught unprepared by Covid-19 because Dealing Member Firms (Stockbroking Firms) had been subjected to Minimum Operating Standard (MON) by The Nigerian Stock Exchange over the years.

According to him, these are set of standards prescribed and enforced by The Exchange for Dealing Member Firms to enable them develop strong robust control and governance framework as well as effective human capital that will enable them 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 minimum operating standards by The Nigerian Stock Exchange.

“The minimum operating standards cover the entire structure of our operations, including corporate governance and human capital. The philosophy is to globalize 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 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.

While appraising the attitude of investors at the commencement of lockdown, Ezeagu described it as mixed, saying that initially some investors did not know that The Nigerian Stock Exchange was open for business but when we let them know, it was a great relief and they started to patronize the market.”It was a pleasant surprise to them and this ignited some positive sentiments towards the market. “, he added.

He however admitted that there were concerns in the entire ecosystem such as the degree by which Covid-19 would affect the economy already badly hit, ability of investors to keep faith, health concerns of workers across the board in the Capital Market and investors. These issues cannot be ignored.

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

Ezeagu advised that Securities Dealers should be should assure investors that the market has always been resilient. He also urged them to assist the government in propagating campaign of adherence to safety by the authorities that are handling the pandemic.

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