COVID-19: As SEC Drives Market Development Initiatives

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been providing the regulatory radar in the nation’s capital market through steps that have helped to develop and deepen the market.

An assessment of the commission’s transformational strides has reflected remarkable innovations and the attendant positive developments, especially when understood against the backdrop of the pervasive effects of the economic sluggishness globally in the past few years and given the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SEC under the leadership of the Acting Director General, Ms. Mary Uduk has ensured that investors are adequately protected in a bid to make the Nigerian investment space attractive to global and domestic investors.

She came with a mission of fulfilling the SEC’s statutory mandate through team work, collaborative engagements of stakeholders and a deep sense of purpose.

In a bid to deepen the capitalization of the market, the SEC’s leadership in collaboration with the exchanges, have not fared badly.

In the face of COVID-19, measures were put in place to ensure the market does not shut down, presently trade is going on in the various exchanges that make up the market.

The Nigerian Stock Exchange is continuing with trading, the FMDQ and all the Exchanges are actually continuing and everything is going well.

As the Director General confirmed recently, the management believes that technology, when properly leveraged, will reduce the cost of doing business in the capital market and improve business processes.

The Regulator went ahead to release about three circulars concerning the action against the COVID-19. One of them was to direct the entire Capital Market Operators to provide report on their Business Continuity Plan and processes (BCP), for public companies to make sure that they continue to send out information to investors and also to give out information on how COVID– 19 would affect them if possible make forecast and outlook to let investors know how the pandemic can affect their operation volatility and others.

The SEC on its part has put up email addresses that people can use to send returns, applications, which are all on its websites so that the Capital Market can continue to work even during the pandemic.

In a bid to address challenges associated with identity management in the capital market, the Commission has recently developed a standardised Investor’s Data and Consent Form to be adopted by all Capital Market Operators which has been exposed on the Commission’s website.

Identity management has been a problem not just in the Capital market in Nigeria, but in many sectors of the economy.

The Form will assist CMOs in collecting and updating investors data as well as enable CMOs to obtain consent of investors for implementing capital market initiatives targeted at improving overall experience and participation in the capital market.

For investor protection, the Commission ensures that no one takes investors’ money away in an illegal manner and also enlightens investors to try to diversify their portfolio and consult experts.

Other initiatives the SEC has put in place to protect investors include Direct Cash Settlement, e-dividend Management System, and multiple subscription regularisation among others, National Investors Protection Fund (NIPF) Risk-Based supervision and the Complaints Management Framework that opens communication channels for investors to lodge complaints and get prompt responses.

Similarly, the SEC has intensified sundry initiatives to protect the public from fraudulent or scam investment promoters. This the Commission has done by issuing several warning notes to the investing public, urging them to refrain from investing their money in outfits not registered with the commission. They have also advised the public not to subscribe to any financial investment plan without first checking the registration status of the operating company on the commission’s website.

Only recently, the Commission released a list of 12 unlawful/unlicensed investment schemes which are: Loom Nigeria Money, Box Value Trading Company Ltd, Now-Now Alert, Flip Cash Investment, Result Investment Nigeria Limited, Helping Hand and Investment and No Failure Development and Empowerment Nig. Ltd

Others are MBA Forex and Investment Ltd, Federate Investors Trading Company, Jamalife Helpers Global Ltd, Flexus Global Solutions and Investment Ltd, United Capital Investment Company Limited.

The listed outfits were termed not registered to carry out fund management functions of any sort, stressing that those who stubbornly patronize them would end up burning their fingers.

Again, as a proof of the SEC management’s commitment to promoting Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs, foster economic development and deepen the market, the regulator released draft rules on crowd funding.

The rule seeks to further deepen the nation’s capital market and enable it to provide developmental capital for medium and small-scale enterprises of the economy, in line with global best practices.

Complementarily, the commission had last October held a round table on Commodities Trading Ecosystem which was followed with an International conference in March 2020.

Uduk, emphasized the need to have a vibrant commodities exchange in the country which will ensure that Nigeria realizes its full potential in the commodities market as well as boost foreign exchange earnings.

Market watchers believe the capital market has been properly positioned to attract Nigerians and other investors and provide benefits to those who invest therein and commended the SEC on its sustenance of its investor education programme to assist people understand whatever issues they have around the capital market.

Looking at the performance of the SEC on critical rating parameters showed that the management has done reasonably well in terms of sustaining investors’ confidence in the capital market; instilling discipline in transactional processes in the bourse; and enlightenment and engagement of investors and their associations on emerging trends in global investment space.

On the way forward for the capital market, it is strongly recommended that all stakeholders in the investment space, should extend hands of support to the Uduk-led SEC management in the task of attracting long term investments into Nigeria.

Joshua Afolabi writes in from Lagos

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