Nigeria: Stockbrokers Affirm Business Continuity Amidst COVID-19 Concerns

1 June 2020

Stockbrokers in Nigeria have identified critical factors that would continue to sustain their operations despite some concerns in the ecosystem.

The Chairman, Association for Securities Dealing Houses of Nigeria (ASHON), Chief Onyenwechukwu Ezeagu explained that the Nigerian capital market was not caught unprepared by COVID-19 because operators had been subjected to minimum operating standard (MON) by the Nigerian Stock Exchange over the years.

According to him, these are set of standards prescribed and enforced by the NSE for dealing member firms to enable them develop strong robust control and governance framework as well as effective human capital that will enable them achieve best-in-class operations.

Ezeagu said: " The pandemic has not taken away the level the market has attained in terms of technology and ability to reach out to customers. The operators have been prepared for a situation where customers are connected online real time and we have been engaging in virtual trading. Remember that in some years past, we were all subjected to a rigorous set of minimum operating standards, (MON) by the NSE. The MON covers the entire structure of our operations, including corporate governance and human capital. The philosophy is to globalise our business and the policy has always been religiously enforced by The exchange for enhanced healthy competition among Dealing Members. Therefore, this period only serves to put our potentials into real test and our members are equal to the task which is evident in the fact that trading was never disrupted by the lockdown."

Appraising the attitude of investors at the commencement of lockdown, Ezeagu described it as mixed, saying "initially, some investors did not know that the NSE was open for business but when we let them know, it was a great relief and they started to patronize the market."

"It was a pleasant surprise to them and this ignited some positive sentiments towards the market, " he added.

The ASHON boss, however, admitted that there were concerns in the entire ecosystem such as the degree by which COVID-19 would affect the economy already badly hit, ability of investors to keep faith, health concerns of workers across the board in the capital market and investors.

"It is a healthy man that will invest and so we are concerned about the rate of spread and containment of corona virus. We are equally concerned about the sustainability of our Business Continuity Plan deployment," he said.

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