For auditors in Lagos and across Nigeria, now is probably the most stressful time to have a job. It is the peak accounting period, as quoted companies in Nigeria finishing touches on their full-year 2019 financial statements. These results must be ready for public disclosure by March 31st, 2020, in line with the listing rules of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
The mental stress on auditors
In view of this, auditors must work round the clock to get these documents ready. This is not an easy thing, particularly for all the executive trainees and semi-senior associate auditors working in these audit firms. They must work extra hours and literally put their personal lives on hold, for the meantime.
One junior auditor who spoke to Nairametrics under condition of anonymity lamented about feeling burnt out and mentally stressed. He has been working at one of the big four audit firms for a little less than a year, so he is experiencing the peak season for the first time. He was, however, quick to note that this is his dream job and he wouldn’t give it up for anything—at least not for now.
“I never realised it can be this stressful because I started working with them in May 2019. So, this is my first time experiencing this level of business. The rush can be mad. I didn’t even go on Christmas break. You must audit all these companies in order to meet deadline. And you cannot afford to make any mistakes because…you just can’t afford to.
“So, it’s stressful. But besides the stress, this is one of the best places to work in this country, I can assure you.”
More challenges: No personal time
Part of the stress is that these young auditors must be ready to travel to any part of the country whenever they are called upon. As a matter of fact, traveling is an integral aspect of the job description in these audit firms. 27-year Chidoka (not his real name), who works in one of the top audit firms in the country, told Nairametrics that he initially enjoyed the extensive traveling schedules. But as time went by and the job was not allowing him to spend enough time with his wife and newly delivered daughter, he began to have some misgivings. Even when he is in Lagos, he sometimes closes very late from the office such that by the time he drives home, his daughter and wife are already asleep.
It may interest you to know that some auditors in Lagos sleep in the office, especially during peak periods. This is because they close late from work and some of them live far away. Moreover, closing late is not necessarily an excuse to come to work late. Therefore, putting all these into consideration, some of them often decide to just stay back at the office.
Not all the auditors are complaining
One top management executive in one of the audit firms said that while she understands that the job can be overwhelming sometimes, she does not expect anyone to be complaining now. After all, everyone is informed from the very beginning that the job can be stressful. New recruits are also made aware that auditing requires constant traveling and overtime work. She added that the reason new recruits are told all this is so that they will not be surprised when the requirements of the job become real.
The top executive further mentioned the numerous advantages of being an auditor. Now, while these might never make up for the near lack of work-life balance auditors experience, we must admit that they should serve as good enough motivation for auditors to love their job.
“We ensure to take good care of our staff. When they travel, they don’t fly anything less than business class. We also ensure that they are lodged in the best hotels in whatever city they go to work. In terms of remuneration, we pay quite well; sometimes more than what other industries are paying. Those who are complaining should remember all these.”
Auditors’ workload and their mental health
A 2016 research report published in the China Journal of Accounting Research, examined the correlation between auditors’ work-related stress and the quality of their work. Using evidence from the Chinese stock market, the researchers found that though there are no cases of prevalent decline in audit quality due to work stress, there are still instances where this can be said to be the case. One of such instance is when auditors complete the initial audits for new clients whom they’ve never worked for before.
In view of this, the authors of the journal report called on audit firms to always put into consideration the stress faced by their workers as well as “rationalise” the allocation of resources in order to ensure that audit reports are high quality.
A similar report published in the Journal of Educational and Management Studies found that there is usually a chance for a decline in audit quality due to stress. This is especially the case when stressed out junior auditors are the ones handling the process. There are also even greater chances for errors when stressed auditors are auditing the work of a new client due to a lack of “conceptual understanding of the customer.”
Note that audit firms are liable to legal actions from their clients, especially so if such clients find unforgivable errors in their audited financials. For this reason, audit firms should ensure that their workers are not too stressed such that they make mistakes.
In the meantime, quoted Nigerian companies are gearing up to disclose their full-year 2019 financial statements. A number of these companies have announced their closed period, which is the period between when a company prepares its balance sheet and discloses it to the public. United Bank for Africa Plc and Unilever Nigeria Plc are some of the top companies that have announced their closed periods.
Nigeria among countries to be worst hit by food crisis globally
Nigeria, others were listed as countries with the worst deteriorations in acute hunger in recent months.
Nigeria has emerged as one of the countries to be most hit by food crisis across the globe in the face of the coronavirus pandemic which had worsened the already bad situation.
This disclosure is contained in a report by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The report from the FAO also shows that the Democratic Republic of Congo is emerging as the country with the world’s largest food crisis in terms of absolute numbers, with Burkina Faso listed as the country with the worst deteriorations in acute hunger in recent months.
The food crisis is made worse in Nigeria by the longstanding religious and ethnic conflicts and even organized crimes by some bandits, which has greatly affected farmers working on their farmlands.
In addition to these, the farmers were already contending with the issue of flooding or drought, which has negatively been impacting on the agricultural sector in a period the country is desperate and very desirous of economic diversification. The coronavirus pandemic has triggered a surge in food prices as can be seen in the reports released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in a country that imports over 10% of its food supply.
With a population of over 200 million people, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, which is regarded as the world’s most food-insecure continent. This is made worse as importers of food items struggle to gain access to dollars for their imports due to scarcity of foreign exchange which is triggered by the crash of oil prices and low foreign inflow.
This is expected to be exacerbated by the recent order by President Muhammadu Buhari to the Central Bank of Nigeria, to stop the allocation of foreign exchange to importers of food items.
The Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Sani Bello, warned in April, “We are heading toward famine and starvation.”
The FAO report which states that Congo has about 21.8 million people that are acutely food insecure, also points out that Burkina Faso has witnessed an almost 300% uptick in the overall number of people experiencing acute hunger since the start of 2020.
US government to ban WeChat and TikTok from app stores
Chinese-owned social media apps are facing a ban in the US over national security concerns.
The United States government says it will ban the services of Chinese tech giants, WeChat and TikTok, from online mobile application stores in the U.S. It also plans to prohibit any funds transfer/payment services through the WeChat mobile application.
This was announced by the U.S Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, in a statement on Friday, following President Donald Trump’s Executive Orders (E.O.) 13942 and E.O. 13943, on the 6th of August.
“In response to President Trump’s Executive Orders signed August 6, 2020, the Department of Commerce (Commerce) today announced prohibitions on transactions relating to mobile applications (apps) WeChat and TikTok to safeguard the national security of the United States,” said Wilbur Ross.
He added that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has proven it has the means and the motive to use Chinese tech apps, to threaten America’s national security foreign policy, and the economy of the U.S.
He said the following transactions will be prohibited from September 20th for WeChat and November 12th for TikTok
- Any provision of service to distribute or maintain the WeChat or TikTok mobile applications, constituent code, or application updates, through an online mobile application store in the U.S.
- Any provision of services through the WeChat mobile application, for the purpose of transferring funds or processing payments within the U.S.
Mr. Ross said that with the Executive Order, the US government has taken a ‘significant action’ in fighting China’s malicious personal data breach on American citizens, and also promote democratic rule-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations.
The U.S government announced that further prohibitive measures, relating to both companies may be announced in the future.
“Should the U.S. Government determine that WeChat’s or TikTok’s illicit behavior is being replicated by another app somehow outside the scope of these executive orders, the President has the authority to consider whether additional orders may be appropriate to address such activities.”
President Trump has given until November 12, to resolve the TikTok security concerns of the US. He added that the prohibitions may be lifted, if they are addressed.
GMD, 2 Executive Directors buy 5 million additional units of Zenith Bank Plc shares
In three separate transactions, major stakeholders purchased 5 million units of Zenith Bank’s shares.
Zenith Bank Plc, Group Managing Director, Mr Ebenezer Onyeagwu, and two Executive Directors, Messrs. Dennis Olisa and Ahmed Umar Shuaib, have purchased an aggregate of 5 million units of additional Zenith Bank Plc shares.
This was disclosed by the bank, in a notification sent to the Nigerian Stock Exchange, and seen by Nairametrics.
According to the notification, signed by the Company’s secretary, Michael Osilama Otu, the purchase was made in the bourse, over three transactions on the 16th and 17th of September, 2020.
As part of the regulatory requirements, the disclosure must be reported to the Nigerian Stock Exchange, especially when the trade is executed by a major shareholder or director of a listed firm.
Breakdown of the deal
According to the details of the deal verified by Nairametrics, Mr. Dennis Olisa pulled the highest deal as he purchased 2,000,000 additional units of Zenith Bank Plc’s shares at an average of N17.18 per unit, totaling N34.36 million. Mr. Ahmed Umar Shuaib also purchased 2,000,000 additional units of the Bank’s share, at an average price of N16.99 worth N33.98 million. Completing the trio was, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu who purchased 1,000,000 additional units at an average of N17.05 worth N17.05 million.
This major purchase boosted the total number of trade deals (Volume) posted by the Bank in the NSE market, as the deals contributed about 11.61% of the Bank’s total deals between 16th and 17th of September, 2020.
What this means
Based on the recently released H1 2020 Financial Results of Zenith Bank, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu had 45,500,000 direct shares as of June 30, 2020. Mr. Ahmed Umar Shuaib had 7,577,343 direct shares, while Mr. Dennis Olisa had 7,122,316 direct shares. All these remained unchanged from their reported shares in H1 2019.
With the addition of 1,000,000 shares, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu’s stake increased to 46,500,000, indicating an increase of 2.19%. Mr. Ahmed Shuaib’s shares also leaped by 26.39% to 9,577,343, while Mr. Deniss Olisa’s shares increased by 28.08% to 9,122,316 direct shares.
This deal may signify that the Bank’s insiders expect an increase in share price. It is a positive signal to outsiders, coming from top insiders who are abreast with latest information on the Bank’s prospects.
This can play a vital role in stimulating a bullish trend. Zenith Bank’s share price is currently trading at N16.70 on the NSE.
Regardless of the impact of the pandemic on the income and revenue of banks, Zenith bank still remained one of the high-flying financial organizations in Nigeria. For example, the tier-1 bank’s gross earnings grew by 4.37% from N331.5 billion in H1 2019 to N346.1 billion in H1, 2020. Its Profit After Tax increased by 16.81% from N111.7 billion to N114.1 billion within the period under review. The aforementioned factors might have been the reason behind the recent bullish trend for its stock.