Thursday, 5 June 2014

THE BASIC RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE INVESTOR RELATIONS UNIT OF A QUOTED COMPANY

INTRODUCTION

 A Company’s Investor Relations Structure and Activity Chart should include the guiding philosophy, the roles and responsibilities, the activities as well the deliverables of the unit in support of the Company’s corporate goals.

GUIDING PHILOSOPHY

The Investor Relations Unit serves to handle Investor related issues, manage market expectations and release information required for investment judgment suitable to the stockholder or the Investor in order to improve The Company’s market value thereby engendering sustainable superior returns to Shareholders.


POLICIES – CREATING A PLATFORM FOR VALUE ENHANCEMENT

The unit shall in alignment with its guiding philosophy develop the following policies and plans to guide its operations:

·         Disclosure policy.

·         Definition of "material Information".

·         Deciding who will be the company spokesperson.

·         Disaster plan.

·         Annual and quarterly report preparation policy.

·         Analyst policy and media contact list from the Capital Market Correspondents Association of Nigeria (CAMCAN).

·         Appropriateness of advertising.

·         Informing employees of stock movement or participation in stock plan.

·         Creating or enhancing mailing lists of target audience.

 
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

·         Increase visibility in the financial community

·         Decrease stock price volatility

·         Make a public offering of stock

·         Increase percent of stock owned by institutional investors or employees

·         Attracting new or more analysts to cover the company.


STRUCTURE AND ACTIVITY CHART

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES


  1. Maintain Shareholder Register

Liaise with Registrars on updates to Shareholder Register

    • The unit will on a Monthly basis request a current list of the Company’s Shareholders from the Company’s Registrars.
    • This list will contain the names of the Company’s current Investors and their holding.
    • Upon receipt of the list, the unit will proceed to upgrade its register and furnish the Company’s Management with same.
    • The list where possible will contain current addresses of the Company’s shareholders.

  1. Attend to Shareholders complaint and enquires
Keep a Register of complaints, letters, etc. Liaise with Registrars to handle issues of reconciliation, Share Certificate issuance and unclaimed Dividend and Certificate

    • The Unit will upon receipt of Investor complaint, register such complaint in a register.
    • The register will among other things record the following:

-       Name and contact of Investor

-       Nature of complaint

-       Date filed

-       Status

-       Action taken

-       Resolution

    • Having recorded the complaint, the department will proceed to resolving the complaint.
    • Where the complaint is related to missing share certificates and a request for a re-issue, the following steps shall be taken:

-       The complainant shall be given a standard affidavit format on which he is expected to depose in a court of law and return the hard copy of same to the unit for further processing

-       Upon receipt of the sworn-affidavit, the unit will do a photocopy of the affidavit and then forward the original copy with a letter to the Company’s Registrars

-       The Complainant shall be re-issued a Certificate by The Company’s Registrars within 72 hours of the receipt of the affidavit and the same certificate shall be dispatched to the Complainant within 24 hours of the receipt of re-issued certificate by the unit

    • Where the complaint is related to errors in name or address printed on the certificate or units of shares subscribed to, the following steps shall be taken:

-       The complainant will be requested to do a letter to the unit   

      stating the correct name, address or unit of shares

      originally subscribed to

-       A covering letter will be attached to the complainant’s letter and both shall be forwarded to the Registrars for processing.

-       The necessary corrections and dispatch of corrected certificate shall be done within 72 hours of the forwarding of the certificate to the Registrars

 
  1. Handle Director’s Shareholding issues

    • The unit shall, as directed by Management, deal on Director related issues. 

  1. Keep records of exceptional transactions relating to Share movement.
    • The unit shall liaison with the Corporate Finance unit keep track of exceptional transactions relating to the Company’s share movement
    • And shall immediately notify Management of such exceptional transactions

  1. Track the quantity of Shares traded on daily basis as well as the Share-price
    • The unit shall generate report on traded Shares fortnightly
    • The unit shall do this through monitoring of stocks traded daily as well as the price
    • The unit shall also prepare Quarterly Share-range Analysis.

  1. Edit monthly Investors Digest

    • The unit shall gather, edit and publish Investor related news and information on a monthly basis

  1. Stock Exchange Liaison

    • The unit shall in liaise with the Stock Exchange on behalf of the Company and as directed by Management.
 

  1. Organization of Road-shows, Fact-behind the figure, Stock-brokers and Investors Forum

    • The unit shall as directed by Management convene forums that help to help to improve the visibility and investment appeal of the Company. 

  1. Organization of AGM, Board and other statutory meetings

 

    • The unit shall organize the Company’s investors gatherings such as Board Meetings and AGM’s


  1. Publication of Annual Financial Reports and Accounts

    • The Unit shall, working closely with the Financial Control and Legal Units publish the Annual Financial Reports and Account.

CALENDAR AND ACTIVITIES

  • Look out for HNI’s and Institutional Investors who presently have little shares and delight them through responsiveness to complaints and release of timely information.

-       Publication of Monthly Investors Digest

-       Quarterly letter to these group of Investors by the CEO and Company Secretary intimating them of the activities of the Company and leaving a line for response and suggestions

-       To boost interaction, the unit shall mine data on their business, family and birthday using a structured questionnaire

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

THE NIGERIA IMMIGRATION SERVICE RECRUITMENT TEST AND UNEMPLOYMENT IN NIGERIA

a. THE IMMIGRATION SERVICE RECRUITMENT DRAMA
Recently, we saw vivid pictures of a segment of the Army of the unemployed in Nigeria. We saw a massive head-count, we saw desperation, we saw tears, we saw death... 
b. UNEMPLOYMENT: A MANIFEST, YET IGNORED PROBLEM
I have repeatedly said before now, that unemployment is at the heart of the crime and violence in this Country, for where do you think the political thugs and the willing tools in the hands of political paymasters come from? Certainly, from the Army of the unemployed. Recent statistics put Nigeria's unemployment rate at 23.9% and our Youth unemployment rate at 54%, but I think these figures are pretty conservative. The problem is masked by our extended family system and the fact that an employed person may actually be catering for about seven to ten unemployed people. 
c. IS THERE REALLY A CORRELATION BETWEEN GROWTH AND OPPORTUNITIES WITHIN THE NIGERIAN ECONOMY?
The problem stems from the fact that the economy, though growing at a year -on-year average of 6% in the last ten years, is not creating opportunities for people at the bottom of the pyramid and also throwing up very few opportunities for movement into the middle class. Growth merely mean the creation of more billionaires and the purchase of more private jets and the display of crass materialism by the less than 1% of Nigerians in the upper class on the streets of London, Paris and New York.
d. WHAT DRIVES CLASS MOVEMENT IN NIGERIA - IS IT HARD-WORK OR CORRUPTION?
Certainly, wealth in Nigeria is largely driven by corruption and rent-taking, made possible by access to power as opposed to hard work, rare genius and a culture of investment and industry as it happens in other climes.
e. ADDRESSING MASS UNEMPLOYMENT
Nigeria's unemployment, is driven by structural and institutional failures and the only way to address it, is to do the following 5 things:
1. Over-haul the system - reduce or eradicate corruption and rent-taking
2. Improve the tax system by making those who earn more, pay more for the maintenance of the social order
3. Revamp the social security system - lets work towards getting a credible figure of both skilled and unskilled unemployed people in every nook and cranny of Nigeria and build a support system which does not glorify indolence but works to support people by building the right skills and matching skills with the right job / entrepreneurial opportunities.
4. Strengthen the institutional framework - Rather than celebrate wealth without questioning its source, let's create a system where the nations resources are deployed for the greater good and allow honest private initiative thrive.
5. Work to create a smaller government and a bigger economy - Reduce the size of government and deploy resources to social and physical infrastructure which create the the right investment and business environment. Let government play the role of the enabler and not a back-door participant, devolve powers to the regions, create a smaller government and a bigger economy underscored by strong and unwavering rules which does not cringe in the face of nepotism or corruption and prioritize sectors of the economy which has the greatest potential to employ more people like Agriculture, Manufacturing and Construction.

REBASING NIGERIA'S GDP AND THE WORLD BANK REPORT ON POVERTY - MATTERS ARISING

Interesting news, Nigeria's Gross Domestic Products now stands at 510 Billion Dollars, purportedly making Nigeria the biggest economy in Africa, but that is not the real news. The real news is that we have a growing economy side by side growing poverty.The real news is that there is growth in the midst of high unemployment? Does this not point to some form of dysfunction in the macro economy? I platform my argument on three interesting scenarios thrown up by the rebased GDP figures:

1. HOW COME NIGERIA'S NOLLYWOOD IS DOING BETTER THAN BOLLYWOOD WITH A MORE ORGANISED STRUCTURE?
The rebased GDP figures shows that the Services Sector has dethroned Agriculture as the highest contributor to Nigeria's GDP as Services Industry which hitherto contributed less than 10% now contributes about 50% to Nigeria's GDP. This is mainly due to new figures coming through from Telecoms, Information Technology, Movies (Nollywood) and Music under the Services sector. The Services sector raked in about 260 billion dollars (about 40 Trillion naira) out of Nigeria's total GDP figure of 510 billion dollars. The question to ask then is how come Nollywood racked in $5.6bn when Bollywood with a better industry structure is doing $3.2bn? How was the figure for Nollywood calculated without an organised Studio, Box Office and Distribution System? Ofcourse Nollywood indeed has great potential to do more but I reckon that government needs to help create the right structure for the thriving of a creative economy, but that is not currently happening with Intellectual Property rights abuse currently at its highest. I reckon the number of jobs that is being lost to Pirates is something that we need to look into.
2. HOW COME AGRICULTURE CONTRIBUTES ABOUT A QUARTER TO THE GDP WHILE MANUFACTURING IS DOING A PALTRY 7%
Aside from what the current Minister of Agriculture is doing to support small-holder farmers, is there a long term strategy for Agriculture which can push output Northward and help the move from Farm-gate to Factory-gate? This is because normally, Agriculture should function as a primary industry which supports the secondary Industry - Manufacturing. But with Manufacturing contributing only 7% in the rebased GDP figures? Does this not give the government cause for worry? 
3. HOW DO WE TRANSITION OUR ECONOMY FROM A PIRATE ECONOMY TO AN ORGANISED ECONOMY?
From the rebased figures, it is apparent that growth came only from the Nigerian enterprise spirit and not a concerted effort on the part of the Nigerian Government to deepen the economy and create an enabling environment for business, no wonder there is so much income inequality and joblessness. I would imagine that the rebased GDP figures merely throws more challenges in the face of government as opposed to a cause for celebration. There is still so much to do to transition our economy from a pirate economy to an organised economy.

BRIDGING NIGERIA’S INFRASTRUCTURE DEFICIT - THE SEARCH FOR AN ALTERNATIVE MODEL


The recent study conducted by Mckinsey on Nigeria's Infrastructure requirement threw up the need for the investment of well over 31 Billion Dollars investment annually, well over a 10 year period for Nigeria to bridge her huge infrastructure deficit. Given the huge amount required therefore, it is near impossible to expect government to foot the entire bill, neither will traditional project finance models essentially leveraging medium to long term funds from Banks and Development Finance Institutions do much, given huge of funds required for infrastructure projects and the mirades of needs that DFI's contend with on the African Continent. So projects such as the 2nd Niger-Bridge, the East West Road, Dredging of the River Niger to allow Sea-going Vessels to Dock at in-land Ports, a Standard guage rail line connecting the State capitals and economic centres of Nigeria from North to South, Power Dams, Electricity Transmission Lines, Electricity Distribution Infrastructure and other critical infrastructure are not attended to, affecting the quality of Economic growth, the creation of jobs and the enhancement of the economic well-being and standard of living of Nigerians.
Furthermore given the fact that in government, there are competing needs and limited resources,  the projects needed to jump-start Nigeria's industrial revolution become mere pipe-dreams. So how do we move forward? Where are the risk-takers who will partner with government knowing the risk involved with Community resistance to Tolling and all other forms of payment for access to public infrastructure once concession-ed?  Apart from these, there are also other encumbrances to Public Private Partnerships, which should otherwise have helped unlock the required funding for economically viable public infrastructure projects, chief among such obstacles confronting private participation in public infrastructure provision is funding! A project such as the Lagos Ibadan Expressway will require well over one billion dollars to remodel the road and without a good Financial Model, how will Financial Institutions come together to fund such projects?

DRIVING PPP's THROUGH STRONG REGULATIONS AND BUILDING AN ALTERNATIVE FINANCIAL MODEL FOR INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS

Its been said that government cannot be left to go it alone with regards to bridging infrastructure deficit, but we all know the political risks as well as Financial model risks involved in putting together a Public Private Partnership deal? Hence, you find the failure of PPP projects the like of the Lagos Ibadan Expressway, the Lagos Local Airport and lately the Lekki Link Bridge. But we cannot allow that to frustrate the delivery of economic infrastructure which have potential to create jobs as well as leapfrog growth and development. So we need to think through a proper financial model and a strong regulatory platform for delivering PPP's - one that ensures that projects time horizons are shortened, project partners reap benefits derivable from such projects, with minimum resistance from users of such economic infrastructure, citizens, local community and politicians.

BRIDGING THE FUNDING GAP - HOW CAN PENSION FUNDS HELP?

With the Nigerian Pension reforms, we suddenly have a situation where we have trillions of naira sitting with Pension Custodians which are deployed to all manner of investment which do not add much value. For a while, the CBN under its Financial System Strategy -  FSS2020 - has been trying to help unlock Pension Funds for infrastructure Financing with very little success thus far. I reckon that government needs to throw its weight behind this initiative as it will have multiplier effects in the sense that once we are able to develop critical economic infrastructure such as Roads, Bridges, Rail as well as Power and Energy Infrastructure. it will automatically reduce the cost of doing business, create more jobs, lead to output gains with consequent impact on our Gross Domestic Product.

THINKING OF AN ALTERNATIVE INFRASTRUCTURE FUNDING MODEL - ONE THAT OFFERS A WIN-WIN PROPOSITION FOR GOVERNMENT AND ITS PRIVATE SECTOR PARTNERS

I reckon also that in terms of gains accrual to Pension Custodians and Administrators, Infrastructure Financing will have very positive impact as it will help value addition and risk diversification. Also from the Infrastructure Project Owners and Off-takers, the deployment of patient capital will lessen the burden of having an investment-mismatch and limit defaults. My take therefore is that government should throw its political weight behind birthing an alternative funding model for infrastructure projects - one that meets  Nigeria's economic target, makes  us competitive in terms of the ease of doing business and delivers quality growth which creates jobs and enhances the living standards of Nigerians.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

BOKO HARAM AND THE ALMAJIRI SYNDROME: WHAT'S THE WAY OUT?

Thank God the Sallah celebrations are over with no major security skirmish in the North or around Nigeria. It seems to me that the State of Emergence declared by President Jonathan is actually working, but at the risk of speaking too soon I reckon we should look at a more sustainable solution to these security challenges rather than imagine that the brute force of Military power can continue to lead the way in the quest at having a safe, peaceful and harmonious society where people can live their lives without fear of losing it to mindless causes and where business can flourish and grow unhindered. Thank God, the Sallah passed without any bombs exploding or without some hoodlums going into a school to shoot at innocent students, however, we must use this period of respite to critically re-examine and reassess the security situation in Nigeria with specific focus on the North.

BEFORE BOKO HARAM, THERE WAS A CULTURAL PRACTICE:
Before the coming of Boko Haram, there exist an archaic practice up North where people willingly firm out their male Children to Religious Clerics to be trained in Arabic and the Doctrines of Islam. Over time, these Clerics took on more Children than they can care for, leading to a situation where the Children are left to go into the streets in search of food and alms. This situation continued over time,creating a mass of uneducated, ill-bred and ill-prepared people who lead a desperate, destitute and despondent life which makes them vulnerable to indoctrination and puts them at the disposal of mischievous Clerics and Politicians alike. A manifestation of  this cultural practice are the incessant religious uprisings in the North starting from the Maitasine Riots to its later day devious and dangerous transmutation - Boko Haram.  Ofcourse, some have blamed the Boko Haram uprising on the Arab spring which suddenly liberated potent energies and weapons that had hitherto been held bound by Dictators like Moamar Ghadaffi, my take has always been that behind every fire, is a fuel which had seemed harmless until there came a flicker of fire romancing the seemingly harmless fuel and giving birth to death and destruction. In the case of Nigeria, there was already an Army, willing and able to start a crisis and suddenly arms came pouring in, and with it, the spirit of death and destruction. Unfortunately, years of irresponsible and careless leadership up North as with everywhere else in Nigeria, had failed to see this coming!
WHAT'S THE SOLUTION?
Although I am not one of President Goodluck Jonathan "cry till your voice becomes hoax" supporters, I none the less acknowledge that the problem was not caused by him and that the solution actually lie far from the ambit of his influence because the problem stems from an archaic cultural practice which has created an army of ill-informed and ignorant mass that are usually willing sparks for religious or political fire. I do not mean to denigrate anyone or lay the blame at anyone's table because indeed inimical and antediluvian cultural practices exist in every culture - from the sacrifice of human beings as penance for communal sins in parts of Yorubaland,  the Osu Caste system in Igboland, to the killing of Twins in Calabar;  cultural practices which bear no place in modern societies had existed in our various communities, but what shows an indication of progress in any society, is the ability to rethink the route that  society must take in order for there to be peace, progress and prosperity under a changing order. This fact become more glaring when one notes the fact that Europe did indeed pass through the dark-ages long before the coming of the Industrial Revolution and America actually fought a war of liberation in 1776 and a war between the Industrial North and Agrarian South before settling to the ideals which today makes them a model for democracy and free-markets. What this points to is that any situation can turn around for good depending on how it is managed.

THE SOLUTION IS NOT IN MILITARY BUT SOCIAL SECURITY

Although, I supported and still support the idea of State of Emergency declared in volatile States in the North by President Goodluck Jonathan, I believe however that Military putsch is not a sustainable solution, rather the solution lie in Social Security:
1. A resolve by Northern Elites, working with government, to rein in the inimical Alamajiri tradition and create a vent for everyone who is born in the North of the Niger to have access to education (inspite of the fact that Boko Haram preaches that education is a sin).

2. The creation of Welfare camps for existing destitute and despondent Almajiri's with soft infrastructure such as Mobile Clinic, Skills Acquisition Centres and Farm Settlements. This is in keeping with the need to positively engage the Mass of the Almajiri's.

3. The creation of a social safety net built around trade and guild systems such as credit and thrift systems which can free up their productive energies and consequently raise SME's in traditional Northern trade and businesses such as Pasturing, Hides and Skin, Tie and Dye and Farming with a possibility of moving from primary production to secondary production as the society settles on a growth and productive part.

4. Decentralisation of Nigeria's Policing system in order to allow for local intelligence and a better understanding of cultural nuances which often lead to unrest.
All of the above may seem simple, but it does demand firm introspection not blame trading, a sense of sincerity, a willingness to concentrate on the big picture rather than chasing shadows and above all, it will require a lot of political will on the part of the Nigerian power elite to achieve.

THE CEO BRAND AND CORPORATE SUCCESS


In the normal context, a company as corporate citizen should have a life, an essence and a personality, which will distinguish it from other companies which offer similar products or service.   However, most companies as corporate citizens take the definition of their life, character and personality from individuals who are either founders or operators. Indeed, companies are defined by the character and personalities of their founders or those who run them.

This is so because, the values, the philosophies and the characters of these individuals usually rub-off on these entities and determine their success or failures. Hence, it is difficult to think about Apple without thinking of Steve Jobs, or Microsoft without Bill Gates or Virgin without Richard Branson or South-West Airlines without Herb Kelleher or General Electric without Jack Welch. These individuals function as the lifeblood of their enterprises in such a way that the company takes its functional existence from these eponymous personalities. In other words, there is a kind of symbiotic relationship between corporate brands and the personality brands of their principals.

The pertinent question to ask then is: what is the significant correlation between the success of a Corporate Brand and the personality of its CEO? The obvious answer is: the personality of the CEO either as a change agent, a deal maker, a quiet and conservative builder, a hardline technocrat or a people person, will have an impact on the direction of the company he / she runs. Since the buck stops on the CEOs table, the direction of the enterprise is certain to be shaped by his/her temperament.

Cases abound of enterprises that were stipe in legacy, losing market share and tottering on the brink of collapse. However, the arrival of a CEO on the scene turned-around the fortunes of the company. In this instance, a CEO does not just make the company to rise above water; he also rethinks the route to market – either by selling under-performing units of a company, acquiring another either in similar industry or a complementary one. The CEO’s managerial ingenuity can further be demonstrated by vertically or horizontally integrating an acquired company into the old either to gain scale and scope advantage, overcome legacy issues, move to primary production from the secondary market in order to leverage the value chain approach to resolving critical supply and access to market hurdles.  Aside from the strategic focus enumerated, the CEO may also take a soft or human approach to waking up a dead enterprise – either aligning a demotivated work-force, rousing them to rebuilding the enterprise through a better management of soft-issues.

From Roberto Goizueta in Coca Cola to Lou Gerstner at IBM, CEO’s as eponymous characters are critical factors in corporate success. This can be attributed to the fact that not only does a CEO carry the burden of change and progress at critical times in the life of an enterprise, the man at the driver’s seat determines how the company he drives travels. He / She may decide to toe the line of tradition and maintain the well-travelled road as Tom Cook is doing at Apple with the demise of Steve Jobs. Or at other times may decide to make a U-turn like Jack Welch who shut down the white-goods side of GE because it could no longer compete with the Asian white-goods market. Jack Welch upon taking over from Reg Jones in 1981 embarked on a number of reform measures. His first strategy was to either fix or sell any business within the conglomerate that was not playing either as number one or number two in its industry. The second was to refocus the enterprise by choosing to acquire companies in Broadcast and Finance Industries and integrating them into the operations of the erstwhile electrical and white-goods business. Welch prioritized the chemical plant, turbines, heavy-duty and medical equipment business by leveraging the GE heritage while acquiring strategic companies which were either competitors or had critical skills needed to consolidate GE’s market growth. The earnings of the business grew by well over a thousand percent before his exit in 2001.

Furthermore, beyond following tradition or departing from tradition, a CEO may decide to do a mix of both in order to bring back the spark in his / her business—Robert Goizueta did just that at Coca-Cola. Goizuieta, a Cuban-American, arrived as CEO of the Coca-Cola Company in 1981 at a time when the company’s mystique had begun to wane as Coke was fast losing its market-share to rival Pepsi. Immediately he got on the job, Goizuieta made a detour from legacy by radically re-inventing the brand portfolios of the Coca-Cola Company, essentially focusing on consumer preferences such as the need for less sugar, a demand of the emerging health conscious consumer, positioning the diet range for this class of people. He toyed with the age-long formula of Coke, making a departure from what was the original mix by John Pemberton. This experiment immediately raised a quest for the original coke taste, which he later brought back as Coke Classic. This action drove sales northward and created exceptional shareholder value never before witnessed in Coca-Cola’s contemporary history.

Aside from adopting a mix of tradition and inventiveness, Goizuieta’s witty personality and grass to grace story, having arrived in America as a Cuban immigrant and rising to the top of corporate America also captured the popular imagination and broke down a lot of resistance to his corporate moves while at the CEO suite at Coca-cola.

Bringing home the point I am making on the relationship between the personality of the CEO and corporate success, let us look at the story of Guaranty Trust Bank in Nigeria. A bank started by two young turks seeking to change the banking landscape in Nigeria. Fola Adeola and Tayo Adenirokun before venturing into owning a bank at the behest of the liberalization of the Banking and Financial Services Industry by the General Ibrahim Babangida regime, had jointly owned a barbing saloon and had used this experiment to hone their skills as entrepreneurs as regards what a consumer actually desires from a player in the service industry. While running the barbing saloon, they discovered that central to the success of any service business, is the ability to create a differentiated service experience. Based on their antecedents as professional bankers, who had risen through the ranks, they transferred their insights from running a barbing saloon into the banking industry. Upon winning a banking license, they immediately raised service experience, a value-added strategy that most bankers usually avoid in order to save cost and created a value proposition which differentiated Guaranty Trust from its competitors. Looking at the drab way in which service was delivered in the banking halls of the old order, Fola and Tayo from the outset, resolved to build banking halls with grandiloquent facades and boutique interior designs which offered comfort and style and beyond ambience, also elevated customer experience using people and technology. This apparently attracted the young and young at heart. The strategy paid off because it immediately won converts to this “new generation” banking style and it created exceptional shareholder value in the process. It is note-worthy that despite Fola and Tayo’s exit from the management of the Bank, this novel tradition continues today with the result being the creation of a huge banking franchise that ranks as one of the most efficient bank in the Nigerian banking industry in terms of cost to income ratio and return on equity, easily defeating the earlier held notion that a value-added strategy such as the like pursued by Tayo and Fola will make a bank uncompetitive in terms of cost. That said, the magic at Guaranty Trust Bank did not just happen, it took the over-riding influence of Fola Adeola and Tayo Adenirokun – two out-going and cosmopolitan individuals – who created a system which placed a premium on customer experience and pursued a strategy that elevated customer value and changed the way banking service is delivered. It did not take much for the magic at Guaranty Trust Bank to happen; it took the personalities of the founders and successive CEO’s of the enterprise.

THE CORPORATE PERSONALITY - IS IT HUMAN OR INSTITUTIONAL?

From the fore-going, a critical question arises: is the corporate personality human or institutional? This may appear to be a difficult question, but I will attempt an answer.

a.      Corporate Governance and the Institutional Route to Creating Value

Corporate Governance often lays water-tight rules which prevent individuals from over-powering an enterprise. This perspective looks at an enterprise as institutional citizen which must be protect and seeks to create barriers which will mitigate the overpowering influence of individual(s) over the enterprise, because such influence, when not exercised with a conscience, often-times corrupts a system and destroys shareholder value.

Taking a cue from corporate history; with the movement of business from Laissez-faire attitude at the advent of the industrial revolution, to the era of corporate citizenship which dictates a need for the operations of business to come under regulatory scrutiny and statutory contributions to society in the form of taxes to government, to the era of enlightened self-interest, which gave rise to corporate philanthropy; to the era of Corporate Social Responsibility, which presupposes that because companies draw their profits from society, they must of necessity exercise a duty of care by giving back to society; and the most recent being the era of sustainability  which preaches the need to ensure continuity of business by ensuring that the social, economic and technological environment in which businesses operate is not destroyed. Looking at developments through these various epochs, corporate historians discovered that the concentration of too much power in the hands of an individual in the quest at raising shareholder value may be counter-productive as such individual in exercising his discretion, if not checked by written corporate rules and the board which needs to exercise the needed oversights, may become power drunk or corrupt. Therefore, the thinking is that creating processes and procedures which defines the corporate direction of an institution as opposed to allowing the discretion of the CEO prevail all the time, is a better route to attaining year-on-year growth and stability of the enterprise. Hence, the widely held notion CEO’s as individuals operating within the corporate context must operate within an institutional framework for corporate success.

However, the problem with this approach when rigidly followed is that an enterprise may not be nimble and fast enough to re-invent itself in the face of changes within the operating environment. We have seen businesses such as IBM before Lou Gerstner and Apple before the comeback of Steve Jobs go under because of the rigid application of the Institutional approach.

Let us look at the Apple story:  Apple was founded by two young and ambitious geeks – Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniack - who wanted to put the computer on every table in America. Along the line, Apple needed venture capital to expand its operations and this gave rise to a need to have an institutional framework with a board at the head of the whole company’s structure. The board, aided by Steve Jobs himself, appointed a CEO, John Sculley, who had a responsibility to expand Apples product portfolio and market-share. Steve Jobs and John Sculley disagreed on a number of issues regarding Apples product and marketing strategy and given that John Sculley had garnered a lot of goodwill coming from his success as a President in charge of operations and marketing at Pepsi, the Apple board sided with John Sculley and Steve Jobs had to exit from the business he founded. What followed Steve Jobs exit was years of near-misses and outright blunders by Apple which Sculley’s exit and a succession of other CEO’s could not fix until the comeback of Steve Jobs himself in the mid 1990’s. And upon his arrival, the board agreed to take a back-seat and gave Steve Jobs a free hand to re-launch Apple’s success, leading to the creation of the world’s most valuable company before the death of Steve Jobs.

b.      The CEO’s Personality Being Synonymous with the Enterprise

Beyond tight corporate governance, another school of thought believes that the CEO’s personality and the corporate personality should be subsumed in each other, in such a way that the CEO’s personality becomes the hallmark of the brand and business.

Here the reference is Richard Branson and the Virgin brand and Donald Trump and the Trump Organisation. Both personalities define their enterprise and not just doing so, they continue to capture the popular imagination because of their maverick and unusual approach to business. Both personalities have grown their enterprise, surpassing expectations and creating exceptional shareholder value. However, one critical risk that dogs this approach is the key-man risk! A risk which comes as a result of placing so much premium on the discretion and ability of one human being at the expense of other variables which may catalyze corporate success. Hence the share price of such enterprise will react either positively or negatively to physical and intellectual as well as the psychological disposition and mortal existence of a personality while tying it pungently to the enterprises they run. Imagine what is today happening in Apple without Steve Jobs? Imagine how Samsung a company without an eponymous character and a charismatic CEO is stealing Apple’s fire and creating exceptional shareholder’s value at Apple’s expense? Imagine what the situation would have been like if Steve Jobs were to be alive?

Striking a Balance – The Asian Example

The scenario above shows that while the CEO has the power to create exceptional shareholder value, he or she also has the power to destroy value and given the need to keep value growing, organizations need to strike the right balance.

Let’s look at the success of Asian companies like Toyota, Honda, Tata, Samsung, LG and Hyundai. Let’s consider the context in which these companies grew to become global power-houses in their industries. It is glaring that a lot of these companies focused on building systems as opposed to promoting the CEO’s image.

An example is Toyota’s focus on six sigma as part of its quality assurance and customer experience strategy; building automobile products that outperformed their American counterpart and not only dominating the American market and giving Detroit a run for its money but also conquering the world.

Another example is Samsung, a global Original Equipment Manufacturer, Mobile Phone and Electrical Appliance Company, which leveraged its access to cheap but skilled labour to create a scale and a scope advantage which its western competitors could not beat even with offshoring and outsourcing. Samsung built a learning organization, one that was receptive to changes within its external environment, adaptive to new trends and nimble and fast in its market roll-out.

It must be noted that one critical fact that cannot be controverted is that all the successes recorded by these Asian companies is that success cannot be traced to just one individual as opposed to the Hollywood styled CEO’s in corporate America, but rather to systems and processes with a usually unseen and oftentimes uncelebrated  eponymous character working behind the scene and leading change, while embarking on an aggressive succession plan which leaves no room for the erosion of corporate value upon his or her exit.

 

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

NIGERIA HOUSING CRISIS, WHAT'S THE WAY OUT?

1. THE PROBLEM:
Nigeria currently has a Housing Deficit of about 16 million. Lagos alone accounts for 30% of that deficit. Let’s look at the state of Housing in Lagos:  according to recently released statistics, Lagos has about 4.75 million Houses against a population that is in excess of 20 million. Statistics also show that out of these 4.75 million Houses, only 3.15 million are residential, while the rest are offices, churches and mosques. And over a third of the remaining 3.15 million houses are in slumps and areas which clearly need urban renewal. 


One may not appreciate how bad the issue of housing deficits currently is until one considers the size and the age distribution of the Nigerian population and the population growth rate, which is put at a year on year average of 2%  against the low rate of growth of the real estate market, especially at the lower end of the market.  World Bank statistics  puts Nigeria at 168 million people with 70% of the total population below 40 years of age.  From the total population therefore,   about 118 million people are below age of 40 years with the median age at 17.9 years . Now if that statistics  is placed against other key indicators such as rate of migration from rural to urban centres, it becomes palpable that beyond the current 16 million Housing deficit, there will be a major Housing Crisis in less than 20 years from now.

2. FINDING A SOLUTION:
The question to ask is how do we resolve this problem? An easy answer will be to say that Government should prioritize the building of low cost houses. But Government already has a lot of issues it is battling with, such as Education, Health and other Social Amenities, so where is the money for mass low cost housing going to come from? Another hurried answer will be to use the PPP model? The question then arise, how do we do this successfully since the PPP model already adopted by some State Governments like Lagos appears to be failing, with the cost of the houses delivered through PPP's being out of the reach of the people it is meant for.


 With minimum wage pegged at 18,000 naira it will be near impossible to get people of low income brackets to buy houses delivered at over 5 million naira even if they were expected to be allotted on owner occupier basis with repayment made through deductions from their salaries over a twenty year period. Now the next solution will be to prioritize Medium Income Housing through PPP’s while we rethink low cost housing. The current reality is that the interest on  Mortgage loans in Nigeria averages 19%  and equity contribution is about 20 - 40%. Now if a medium housing unit which is delivered at an average of 20 million naira through a PPP is put on the market for 22 million naira at 10% profit (which is below the rate of inflation, put at 12.3% in 2012); how will a medium income earner be able to access  a mortgage facility at 19% interest and an equity contribution of between 5- 6 million based on national income averages? 

Of course some will say why not access the Federal Housing Loan through the Federal Savings Bank that has a 6% charge attached to it? But then, the maximum available is 15 million naira, and how many people are able to access that? 

3. SO WHAT IS THE WAY OUT?

a. CRASH THE COST OF MORTGAGES
The way out is to get the banks out of mortgages first of all because the current interest structure from the Banks defeats the essence of Mortgages. The question then arises; where will the average person desirous of owning a home get funding? Some will quickly say through the Pension Funds. But we all know that all Pension schemes in Nigeria before the Obasanjo Pension reforms – from National Provident Fund to the Nigerian Social Security Trust Fund - have been embezzled with the consequence being the lack of real long term funds within the economy for projects such as mass housing.  So how can Pension Funds bail us out of this Housing quagmire?


My recommendation will  be to first of all build more transparency into Pension Fund Administration and the next step will be to encourage Pension Funds and Insurance Companies to pull together long term Funds for Mortgage lending through the a National Savings and Loan Scheme which is Privately run by different operators and regulated by a National Mortgage Commission to be set up by Government.

b. ENCOURAGE LARGE HOUSING OFF TAKERS TO ACCESS THE PULL OF FUNDS FROM INSURANCE AND PENSION FUNDS 


i. ON THE SUPPLY SIDE - Large Real Estate Off-takers can  be encouraged to take advantage the pull of funds from the Pension and Insurance funds with preference given to those with low cost designs and cheaper source of building materials. These Real Estate Off-takers will be licensed on a Regional basis based on proven capacity to deliver cheap and durable housing under a National Mortgage Policy akin to what is be is obtainable under the Power Reforms. Allocation of land for this purpose will be done through State governments under a land swap arrangements which will give marginal equity to State Governments for housing projects under their jurisdiction. If this process is fine-tuned and backed by relevant legislation, there will be a huge interest by credible foreign and local participants on the supply side and selected Off-takers will be able to leverage scope and scale advantage to lower their cost and have a good spread in terms of margins.


ii. ON THE DEMAND SIDE - Prospects will be encouraged to form thrift associations to buy into such housing projects. And this thrift system will further reduce cost as subscription will be done on group basis in order to drive down cost.

It is my sincere belief that if this strategy can be fine-tuned, with other Fiscal policy measures which will encourage cheaper building materials and more cost effective housing solutions taken by government, Nigeria will begin to tread the right path to reducing her huge Housing deficit, while putting plans in place to arrest the looming burst should Nigeria's population begin to age.