This article provides a step by step guide on how to invest in the Nigerian Stock Exchange. We will also highlight a number of factors peculiar with the Nigerian stock exchange that we think you should know before investing.
Who is this article for?
- If this is your first time of investing in stocks, then this is also for you
- If you just read a book about investing in equities and feel this is the best time for you to test the waters, then this is for you.
- If you have been inspired by some of the things you read online about stocks and wish to invest in Nigeria’s stock market, then this is for you.
- If you are interested in investing in the Nigerian stock exchange and wish to get a fair and balanced insight into what to expect, then this article is also for you.
What is the official market for trading stocks in Nigeria?
In Nigeria, you can only buy and sell shares of publicly quoted companies solely from the Nigerian Stock Exchange which is based in Lagos. However, if you want to trade in equities of private companies, then the National Association of Security Dealers Over- The-Counter (NASD OTC) is the market for you.
How do I start?
Before you start trading equities in Nigeria, you will need to open a brokerage account with any of the approved stock broking firms in Nigeria. Upon application, you will be required to provide a means of identification, bank account details including BVN, passport photographs, signatures of account holders, next of kin details (if it is a personal account) etc. It takes less than 48 hours to open an account provided you have a bank account. Some stockbroking firms also have online trading platforms, meaning you do not need to visit the stockbroking firm physically. Just visit their portals and upload all the information that they need.
What else do I need to have?
We recommend that you open a Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) account. CSCS is a market aggregator that warehouses all the accounts created and maintained by all stockbrokers in Nigeria. By owning a CSCS account, you can also view your portfolio independent of your stockbrokers and see what stocks you own. This is important as it helps you mitigate fraudulent activities. It cost between N2k and N5k per annum.
How do I start trading?
To start trading in equities, you are expected to have opened a stockbroking account. You will be given a Clearing House Number (CHN), which is unique to your portfolio. To trade, simply deposit money with your stockbroker and instruct them to purchase shares for you on your behalf. The means of communications is typically with your registered email. However, it is easier using their online trading platform, which allows you to buy and sell stocks on your own. Through online trading portals, you can place bids or offers which usually terminates within seconds of being received. You should also get emails from your broker once you place bids and offers, and when the transaction goes through.
Transaction fees are charged any time your bid or offer goes through. There are statutory fees that you pay to regulators and those you pay to your broker. Statutory fees are fixed while broker fees vary between the range of 1.5% and 1.8% per transaction.
There are no capital gains taxes on buying and selling of equities in Nigeria.
Clearing of funds
When you buy or sell stocks, it usually takes about 4 days before the entire transaction is concluded. In the NSE, clearing and settlement is T+3.
After you sell equities, your cash remains in the account of the broker till you request for a withdrawal which takes within 24 hours to be completed. To withdraw using an online brokerage account, just visit the portal and click withdrawal. Some brokers also require emails for your withdrawals to be paid into your accounts. Remember, the account where your cash will be credited is the bank account you provided when you registered.
The Nigerian Stock Market usually opens for trading at 9.30am for pre-markets. During pre-markets, you can place bids or offers and catch a glimpse of how the prices of stocks and the market as a whole might open officially. Pre-markets close by 10.00am and trading commences immediately. The market then officially closes at 2.30pm. You can read about happens at 14.29 here.
The Nigerian Stock Exchange also has a number of market segments that represents different liquidity levels. They are the Premium Board, Main Board, and the Alernative Stock Exchange Market ( ASEM). The Premium Board includes the most capitalized stocks on the exchange: Zenith Bank, FBNH and Dangote Cement. The main board includes about 190 stocks and is as liquid as the Premium Board. The ASEM is a market for smaller stocks and is highly illiquid. This means you might not see the stocks to buy and even if you buy, there are very few buyers available.
Just like most stock exchanges in other parts of the world, the Nigerian Stock Exchange also has indexes. The first is the All Share Index, which is a broader representation of all stocks. It includes all the stocks on the exchange and tracks their performance daily. We also have sub-indexes for sectors such as banking, insurance, consumer goods, oil and gas etc. We also have the NSE 30, which is Nigeria’s own equivalent of the Dow. It tracks the performance of the 30 most capitalized stocks on the exchange.
Data and information
To have a robust stock, you will also need to have data you can use. The Nigerian Stock Exchange is not the best with data, however, there are a few you can get to start with. Companies publish their results and other corporate information on the website of the NSE. Results are published quarterly by companies and those who do not comply are fined accordingly. You can also check their investor relation section of each company’s website
You can also get closing day prices on the website of the NSE or from your broker websites. In fact, you are better off subscribing to newsletters from your broker for more detailed market information.
What about dividends?
Apart from capital gains, investing in companies quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange also allows you to earn some returns in the form of dividends. Dividends can either be paid in cash, stocks (script dividends) or a hybrid of cash and stocks. Cash dividends are now paid electronically into your bank account. To ensure that you receive your dividends, you are expected to visit the registrars for the stocks you own and provide them with your bank details. They will also ask you for means of identification as well as other documentation. Once you are done, you get your dividends as soon as it is paid by the company. Script dividends are also credited to your CSCS accounts by the registrars.
Pre market times were adjusted in 2018. Prior to that, pre market began at 9.30 and ended at 10am. Market makers then placed bids till 10.15am, when trading opened for the entire market.