Our biannual 2018 CFA Society Nigeria Investment Conference held successfully on Thursday, 8 November 2018 at the Eko Convention Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos. The theme of the conference was “Let’s Measure Up”. The conference was used as a platform for advocacy and knowledge exchange with the broad aim of improving the professionalism and ethical standards of Nigeria’s investment industry. The Investment conference was used to amplify CFA Institute’s global “Let’s Measure Up” campaign which aims to increase awareness that the investment industry is built on honesty and transparency.
We had in attendance more than 500 attendees from the investment industry comprising of senior executives, regulators, industry leaders, academics, senior government policy makers, and investment professionals. We were also joined by delegates from other African CFA Societies such as CFA Society South Africa, CFA Society East Africa and CFA Society Mauritius. The conference moderated by Gary Baker, the Managing Director, EMEA, CFA Institute, featured a morning session focusing on investment industry practitioners and an afternoon session which focused on policy dialogue with high-level policy makers.
The President of CFA Society Nigeria Mr. Banji Fehintola in his welcome address described the event as “a platform for dialogue and advocacy to improve the landscape of the financial market.” He drew attention to the relevance of the theme of the conference. In his words, “for Nigeria in particular, there is no better time than now to remind ourselves of our collective obligations to measure up to the highest standards that will promote the development of our capital market, increase inward investment flows and deliver economic prosperity to our people.”
The President and CEO of CFA Institute Mr. Paul Smith in his remarks was full of optimism about Nigeria. According to Smith, the country’s demography is a compelling case for investments. With 60% of the population under 30, Smith sees Nigeria as the future of the CFA.
The first panel which was featured in the morning session was moderated by Ore Sofekun, Managing Director, Investment One Vencap deliberated on ‘Boosting Confidence in the Financial Services Industry – The Role of Ethics, Incentives & Behavioral Changes’. The panelists, Andrew Alli, Non-Executive Director, CDC Group Plc, Oscar Onyema, CEO, Nigerian Stock Exchange, Abubakar Suleiman, Managing Director/CEO, Sterling Bank Plc, and Alhaji Shehu Mohammed, FCA, FCCA, Sarkin Shanun Kano agreed that post-2008 global financial crisis, financial institutions must place top emphasis on building trust with their clients and customers. “Trust” in Mr. Suleiman’s words “is one way to unlock the Nigerian economy and grow its commerce.”
The second panel focused on ‘Bridging the Infrastructure Gap: What Nigeria Must do to Measure Up with the Developed World.’ The discussants Mr Oliver Andrews, Chief Investment Officer African Finance Corporation, Bolaji Balogun CEO Chapel Hill Denham, Mrs Eme Essien Lore, Country Manager, International Finance Corporation, Mr Jabalo Oshikanlu, Legal and Compliance Director, ARM-HARITH Infrastructure Fund agreed that for Nigeria must give top priority to the “Sanctity of Contracts”. Nigeria’s quest to address its infrastructure deficit through investments and public-private partnership can be achieved if it values the “Sanctity of Contracts”.
We had the pleasure of hosting Carla Harris, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Morgan Stanley in a conversation on ‘Strategize to Win: Why Gender Diversity Matters’. Carla challenged the Nigerian women in finance, to step up and make their voices heard in the boardrooms and the industry. In her words, “work-life balance is important, and women have to find a way to negotiate on the issues of pay gap inequality because Gender Diversity and Inclusion is the commercially right thing to do”.
The afternoon session focused on policy dialogues with the following headliners; ‘Attracting Foreign Direct Investments through Ease of Doing Business Reforms: What has been done and what should we expect?’; ‘Monetary and Exchange Rate Policies: How Resilient is Nigeria to the Shocks of EM Capital Reversal and an Upcoming Election?’. We were honored with the presence of Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria. Mr. Emefiele lauded the institute and its role in promoting transparency and professionalism in the Nigerian investment space.
The last session “Putting it all Together: 2019 Economic & Investment Outlook” moderated by Wole Famurewa, Anchor, CNBC Africa had Mr. Bismarck Rewane, Managing Director/CEO, Financial Derivatives Company Limited addressing the need to tackle poverty in Nigeria and the distribution of income.
Representing the Minister for Industries, Trade and Investments the Executive Secretary and CEO of the National Investment Promotion Council, NIPC Yewande Sadiku spoke on “Attracting Foreign Direct Investments through Ease of Doing Business Reforms”. In her words, “more businesses are formed in an environment that makes business formation easier.” She stressed that there was a correlation between Ease of Doing Business and economic prosperity, and Nigeria should make efforts to attract Domestic Direct Investments and not just Foreign Direct Investments.
The conference ended with a networking reception where our attendees had the opportunity to meet and greet. Altogether, the conference was a huge success and we look forward to our 2020 Nigeria Investment Conference.