Head, Wealth Management, Meristem Wealth Management Limited, Mrs Damilola Hassan, in this interview with Capital Market Editor for The Nation; Taofik Salako speaks on the opportunities and challenges in the investment market.
What has been your experience managing people’s assets?
Be it little or much, an asset is something of value you have worked hard to acquire so you want to ensure you have a reliable and trustworthy partner to help you with the professional management. I must say it has been quite fulfilling playing that role of “trusted partner” to our clients over the years and actively participating in the growth of these financial assets in line with their objectives. People have different objectives and goals as well as resources, the challenge for a professional asset manager is to find the right mix to help each person realize his or her goals. In doing this, one needs to understand the peculiarities of each person. That’s where the challenge is. But you have a sense of fulfillment every time a client walks out satisfied.
What is your assessment of the investment market in Nigeria?
The investment market is upbeat, with a lot of creativity being infused into how investment is done. Technology has also been a major enabler, simplifying the on-boarding process, execution and generally creating an improved customer experience. Despite all these, we still have a wide gap between our national numbers and the numbers of people actively investing.
A lot remains untapped, and it requires the collective effort of market operators and regulators to harness the huge potentials we possess as a nation. Given the right mix of investor education, regulatory proactiveness and deepening of the basket of offerings by market operators, our footprints will be boundless. So, my advice to the populace is to take advantage of the latent opportunities in the Nigerian financial markets.
What are the challenges inhibiting efficient asset management and what can be done to address these?
There are many challenges and a few that readily come to mind include lack of trust, limited investor education, and relatively narrow investment offerings. Some people are wary of entrusting their assets to professional managers based on previous not-so-good experience having fallen into the wrong hands. We all need to join hands to address these challenges. On the part of regulators, improved regulations, efficient monitoring of the market and increased transparency of the investment process are things that will assist to boost investor confidence. In the same light, the importance of investor education cannot be over emphasised. You cannot invest in what you know very little or nothing about. No matter the performance of any asset class, you will only find a handful, relative to our population of course, of investors participating because they have basic knowledge. I recognise a lot of industry players are doing a number of things to bridge this gap, but we need to be more strategic about it in order to get desired results.
We also need to have flexible and adaptive regulatory environment. Rigidity on the part of regulators can stifle creativity and limit market depth. While I recognise the need for them to play their role for market sanity to prevail at the global level, things are moving at a fast pace and if you don’t have a relatively nimble structure, you will be left behind regardless of size.
We also have to cope with huge costs of data management and safety and market volatility due to significant foreign portfolio investment when compared with local participation in our market.
What stands Meristem Wealth Management Limited out from other asset managers?
We are a full-fledged wealth management company, with thorough understanding of the entire wealth management cycle of growth, preservation and transfer of wealth across generations. We pride ourselves in providing tailor-made solutions to address client financial concerns at whatever stage of life, while putting into careful consideration unique circumstances. We don’t do it alone, as wealth management can be as simple as investing in a collective investment scheme or as complex as structuring a business succession plan. We work with other professionals in various fields to deliver on our promise. At Meristem Wealth, our clients come first. We don’t just say it, we live by it as a culture and strive to ensure that we create memorable experiences along all our client interface channels.
There is this notion that wealth management is an elite thing and for the super – rich alone, how true is this?
I am going to agree and disagree with you on that. As I had mentioned earlier, wealth management can be as simple as you starting from where you are and working your way up to the more comprehensive services. As a wealth management firm, we have investment options that allow you access to professional portfolio management with as low as N10,000, while we also have elite offerings in foreign currencies, alternative investments and personalised estate plans. The most important thing is that every individual should be able to assess where he or she is financially and then take a decision to be better off.
What are your plans at Meristem Wealth Management Limited?
We will continue to meet and exceed our client’s expectations even as we tap into huge opportunities for growth in our industry. We are poised to remain the bespoke wealth management service provider with a passion for excellence and our relentless disposition to always deliver on our value proposition. Technology again is one of our ace enablers. We have prioritised convenience for our clients and strive to strike a balance between generic and tailor-made products and services. This approach calls for a lot of ingenuity and we keep scaling the odds to ensure value is truly delivered to our clients.