Meristem Securities Limited, a leading capital market conglomerate has recently launched its economic outlook report for the year 2021. The outlook report titled ‘Bracing for a Different Future’ highlighted in depth a wide range of issues relevant to an evolving future. With a global economy that has been scarred by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the domestic economy was not left out, as the Nigeria economy slipped back into a recession, amplifying the structural weakness of the domestic economy in the form of weakening exchange rates, rising inflation, among others.
In Meristem’s H2:2020 Outlook: “Unmasking Value in a Scourge”, Meristem had warned that the threat of a second wave of new infections was very much a possibility. As a result, the recovery of economic activities would remain fragile until a vaccine is developed. Hence, much would depend on strict compliance with social distancing and healthcare measures as economies gradually re-opened. The Deputy Managing Director of Meristem, Sulaiman Adedokun, stated that while the rising number of daily infections pose a threat to economic activities, we expect a rebound of the domestic economy”.
Launching the outlook “Bracing the future” during a webinar attended by institutional investors, corporate clients, retail investors amongst other industry professionals, Sulaiman also commented on the equities market highlighting that “The equities market recovered from deep selloffs to finish as the best performing equities market last year, citing unattractive yields in the fixed income market, excess liquidity and a resilient corporate performance in the middle of a pandemic as major factors which drove the market.” “We expect these factors to persist thereby sustaining the positive momentum of the market through the better part of the year; in the first half of the year, we expect the financial market to be dominated by attractive dividend yields and the low yield in the fixed income market,” Sulaiman added.
The face of work has changed and many corporate organizations and their employees are rapidly adopting cutting-edge technology to meet the future of work in a COVID-19 era. While fielding questions from journalists about how the organization has deployed its business continuity plan, Sulaiman expressed that “The pandemic has influenced changes amongst people globally and we have enabled this change in our organization by utilizing the power of technology, we have also adopted a work from home culture that enables team collaboration through technology, we intend to maintain this even beyond the pandemic.”
Meristem offers a wide a range of services that cater to all classes of investors regardless of the stage in their financial journey, services like stockbroking, wealth management and financial advisory help clients to access various opportunities within the capital market. Via Meritrade, an online stockbroking platform, investors can trade stocks from anywhere around the world as well as better manage their shares and enjoy access to the most exclusive market research.
Meristem for the past 16 years has been consistent in value creation and innovation within the capital market space. In 2018, the Nigerian Stock Exchange awarded Meristem as the Best Digital Broker of the Year. In the same year, Meristem also became the first Nigerian asset management firm to attain compliance with the Global Investment Performance Standards (GIPS) by the CFA Institute. Still, in 2018, Meristem received two nominations from Business Day, for the best Money market Fund and Equity Fund.
The firm has remained a leading player in Nigeria’s competitive investment market with a solid reputation as a highly professional and client-centric firm, helping to take their clients farther.
Konga launches revolutionary membership programme, Konga Prime
Konga Prime puts money back into the pockets of subscribers by helping them make great savings.
Konga, Nigeria’s leading composite e-Commerce giant, has rolled out Konga Prime, a revolutionary membership programme, with a lot of benefits for shoppers.
Konga Prime members enjoy unlimited free shipping, have access to exclusive offers and early bird deals, among others.
The incentives-filled loyalty programme went live on Monday March 1st, 2021.
Specifically, Konga Prime brings together a suite of exciting benefits which delivers great value to subscribers, helping them enjoy exclusive deals and other incentives such as faster deliveries of their orders. In addition, Konga Prime puts money back into the pockets of subscribers by helping them make great savings, incomparable to that offered by any other retail platform.
Furthermore, members of Konga Prime including busy individuals and families get to enjoy premium access to the full range of Konga’s cutting-edge assets. Among these are its powerful e-Commerce engine and online presence as well as the nationwide reach of a growing list of over 31 stores spread across the nooks and crannies of Nigeria. With this, Konga Prime members can take advantage of nationwide delivery of their items as fast as the next day.
Also, members have the added incentive of unlimited free delivery from Konga.com and access to discounts that make shopping faster and cheaper for all categories of shoppers.
Interested subscribers can sign up for Konga Prime here: https://www.konga.com/konga-prime Membership of Konga Prime is available to all customers, effective March 1st, 2021, beginning with Lagos and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Equally important, Konga is currently offering specially discounted rates for interested subscribers to sign up for Konga Prime. In other words, subscription rates for Konga Prime membership have been slashed by as much as 50% for early bird subscribers.
In Lagos, membership of Konga Prime is currently up for N1,000 a month, as against N2,000 and N2,490 for three months, instead of N4,950 along with a 7-day free trial period. For Abuja, membership rates presently stand at N1,290 a month, as opposed to N2,500 and N3,490 for three months, instead of N6,950.
Meanwhile, the Konga Prime rollout is set to be extended to other states soon.
Vice President, Konga Online, Kenny Oriola, says the initiative is one that will deliver great value for members, including exclusive access to a growing list of special offers. These include unlimited free delivery, early access to exclusive deals as well as partner benefits and rewards.
“This initiative was implemented to provide a platform that allows our esteemed customers enjoy great value, including having their orders delivered to their preferred location for free. Saving time and money is not just the end goal here, but having access to exclusive deals, and mouth-watering discounts on special products also makes this service one to subscribe to.
‘‘Today, we kick-off this initiative in Lagos and Abuja. Subsequently, other states across the country will benefit from this service. We urge all interested subscribers to take advantage of the ongoing discounted rates to sign up for this value-adding programme,’’ he disclosed.
Further, Oriola submits that in the future, Konga will leverage its wide-ranging assets to add additional benefits for members in a variety of services and offerings, adding that the list of benefits will continue to grow over time.
Capitalism must be balanced with social impact – Niyi Adenubi
Niyi Adenubi, Executive Director at VFD Group chats about investments, capitalism and much more.
The Executive Director, Institutional Business and Investor Relations, at VFD Group, Niyi Adenubi recently sat for a chat with Chinasa Ken-Ugwuh on her radio show called Social Conscious with ‘Nasa hosted on Africa Business Radio.
The focus was on the 21st-century capitalists’ dilemma: Social Impact or Profitable Value Creation. The conversation also featured ex-Diamond Bank GMD and Chief Sparkler at Sparkle, Uzoma Dozie.
As today’s corporate executives build and the world changes more and more, it has become apparent that the capitalism as practiced from eons may not be suitable for the yonder. “You have to balance economic prosperity and social development to take all stakeholders into consideration,” Niyi says.
Who are the most critical stakeholders in your view – are they the customers and employees?
I think customers and employees are critical stakeholders. I totally agree. The most critical stakeholders are your customers because customers are directly correlated with your profitability. If you cannot serve your customers right, they will go somewhere else, and you will be losing money. They are always the number one. But a very close second in our company, is our employees. And it is very important especially now that we are hiring young people. We have graduate trainees’ programmes. These people come to us straight from university. Millennials and Generation Z are very different in terms of their aspirations. So, it is very important for us to start building our own culture in our company to manage them so that they can be optimal. We also have a minimum pay structure – one that ensures that everyone that works in VFD earns a certain minimum. This is very important. Of course, our regulator is quite important too and on the last, but not least are our capital providers – bankers, equity providers and shareholders – they are very important too.
How is VFD reacting to investors’ expectations on capitalism?
I think the investors are ready for this change. COVID has accelerated the pace for most people. The days of running a business primarily and solely for shareholders are gone. I think even employees demand that we are socially conscious. When we started our ESG program at the company, it was to make our internal stakeholders happy and we have been pushing for this for a long time. Ever since we became quite successful, we have been able to give back and that has encouraged our staff to give more in some of the things we do. On the social and governance side I think we have done quite a lot in our organization.
Do you believe in stakeholders’ capitalism over shareholders capitalism? Do you agree with the idea?
I sincerely believe in it. About six or seven years ago, I read this book by a French economist, Thomas Piketty, called ‘’Capitalism in the 21st century.’’ It was basically the summary of what is now trending and which the world is going through. We see more poverty, more famine, more climate change dislocating more farmers, more inequality in the world. For me, that was a wake-up call personally. It suggested that the world was returning to an age where the middle class is being eradicated.
I just picture a world where, for example, Nigeria, where the inequality is just so wide, that there will be security issues as we have now. At VFD Group we are very conscious to educate our shareholders of the importance of all stakeholders’ management; for example, the environment in which we are operating must benefit directly from what we are doing. Our staff must be directly beneficial both from the point of salary and profit-sharing and from the general standard of living. We will not squeeze ourselves just to maximize or earn an extra dollar. All those things are very important to me since I came to that actualization six or seven years ago, I have tried to incorporate them in the policies that shape the Group’s ESG and CSR policies.
At the point when you started to think like this, was there any resistance and how did you try to persuade them?
Yes, I think there is always resistance to change. But in my situation, there was none. It was quite logical.
Just look at the calculation that we did. On the return on capital, we always exceed the growth rate of the economy which means that richer people will go in a certain direction and if you don’t incorporate the right policy you will be squeezing the middle and getting more people poorer. So, it was not that hard to do and even on the investors’ relations side, even our local investors are aligning to the ideas. So, it has not been that difficult and with COVID we have pushed more in that direction.
Most corporate leaders are moving into philanthropism these days. Do you think that there is capitalism agenda behind this CSR?
I think there is a way that the world works and until we find a better way, we just have to use it. So, I completely understand what you are saying.
If I give money to a cause just because I want something back in return and if that is the motivation for me to do well and make that cause to happen, that will be my legacy. It is not bad. I particularly like the kind of philanthropy that is done in America. Americans give more money than anybody in the world. They also make more money than any body in the world. When they build a new hospital or when they build a new library or research center in a university, they want it name after them or stuff like that.
What is your view on socialism?
I do agree that this is the period we should wear our socialism tag. At the height of the lockdown, it was very obvious that in a place like Nigeria where there are no social safety nets, asking people to stay at home while they are can’t feed, and their children are crying and dying, will make them become aggressive. And I believed the fallout of the #ENDSARS protests was as a result of that. We need to have a more balanced approach in handling problems. For me, I believe that more Nigerians are dying of hunger than are dying of COVID-19.
On CACOVID’s Covid-19 interventions
I think the identification project is a very crucial one. The BVN project was a big one too. Once we get identification right in the country, that should solve a lot of our infrastructural problems in terms of identifying people to give them the palliatives or to send money to their accounts and to avert all those other disasters that happened to CACOVID. The uproar surrounding CACOVID could have been avoided if we had a way of identifying ourselves.
Do you find that your value, vision, and mission at VFD addresses all the stakeholders?
At VFD Group, our mission statement says in part about building a socially conscious ecosystem from the environment that we are operating. It is top priority for us as I said.
Our stakeholders are quite excited about it. Our customers are quite excited about it; our employees are quite excited about it and our shareholders are excited about it. It has always been a very conscious and deliberate thing for us.
One part of it is to have this statement, how does it translate into the culture?
We have these recurring strategy sessions where we set goals for the organization. We are a goal-setting organization. Every year, we ask what we want to achieve that will be in line and in tune with our mission statement. We list them and through the course of the year, we evaluate for execution. We carry everybody along that helps us.
How else are you able to demonstrate this value apart from goal setting?
Our values are innovation, integrity, teamwork, and newly empathy. I would like to talk specifically on empathy. We had a strategy session in 2018 or thereabout to prepare for the new year and empathy generated a lot of debate in the organization amongst everybody.
The whole idea when we were pushing for empathy as a value is that it should drive our business. The key thing is if you can put yourself in the shoe of the other person either customers or another colleague or your regulator or your auditor and understand where they are coming, from there is less friction and it solves the problem. Our work is about providing solution.
If a customer calls and you answer the phone and maybe cannot solve the problems at that point because you don’t work directly in that business. For example, a customer calls for something with V Bank and the person that answers the call works with the Asset Management subsidiary, it is expected that you attempt to solve the problem before transferring in a professional way. Empathy does not mean that you are soft or vulnerable.
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