Mr Adedeji Ajadi, the Registrar and Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) is the first Nigerian Certified International Securities and Investment Analyst (CIIA). He Is a Chevening Scholar and multiple award winners. In this definitive interview, Ajadi bares his mind on the philosophy that underpins the Institute’s Curriculum and why government should accord more recognition to securities dealers.
Q. Congratulations on your investiture as a Fellow of Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) during the recently concluded 23rd Stockbrokers’ Conference. How did you respond to this milestone?
The status of Fellow is the highest attainable in the profession. It is proof that the holder has demonstrated capacity, competence and character in the profession consistently for a considerable period of time. It is therefore a mark of honor to be invested as a Fellow of the institute. But it also comes with responsibility. It is said that ‘‘to whom much is given, much is expected.’’ I therefore receive this honor with pride, but also with a sense of responsibility to make a difference in this profession and our nation at large.
Q. What are the key messages from the conference?
The theme of the conference is Boosting Capital Market Competitiveness in a Challenging Macro-Environment. You will agree with me that this theme aptly captures our experience in the capital market today. But we are aware that in spite of the tough operating environment, we can focus on bringing up creative and innovative ideas in solving our problems. We have therefore invited seasoned experts with proven, practical experience to discuss a wide range of macro issues such as how to use innovation and creativity to drive growth in the capital market, leveraging fintech to enhance retail participation in the capital market, attracting and retaining talents in the securities market and exploiting the nexus between agriculture and capital market growth.
Q. What is the Institute doing to re-direct the mindset of the government to appreciate the relevance of the capital market to Nigeria’s economic growth and development?
Over the years, the institute has championed advocacy along this line, and I can assure you that our efforts are yielding results. We have engaged both the Executive and Legislative arms of government this year on several issues with very positive results. Earlier in the year we had fruitful deliberations with the Vice President and members of the economic team. At this 2019 Annual Conference, the Chairmen of both the Senate Committee and House Committee on Capital Market are personally in attendance. This is a demonstration of the growing commitment of the government to work with stakeholders in the capital market to give the capital market its rightful place in national development.
Q. Prior to your employment at the Institute, can you tell us what you were doing?
Prior to joining the institute in May 2010, I had garnered over 17 years of professional work experience that cuts across banking, management consulting, accounting, auditing, administration, and learning and development. I garnered extensive domestic banking operations experience while with Chartered Bank Plc between 1999 and 2005. I then spent another five years in management consulting where I gained valuable experience in learning and development, business and strategic planning, HR and recruitment.
Q. What motivated you to become a stockbroker ?
I developed interest in Stockbroking in the course of my accountancy training which exposed me to core issues in finance and financial management. I particularly enjoyed finance and the process of raising funds in the capital market. I was fascinated by the various techniques and analysis finance managers employed in taking financing, investing and dividend decisions. This spurred on my interest in the profession.
Q. You have been described in many quarters as a man of many parts. Could you shed more light on this, especially, whether there is linear relationship between your multidisciplinary background and your current job?
I consider myself very fortunate to have had versatile training and work experience earlier on in my career. I hold a Bachelor’s Degrees in Agricultural Extension and Rural Sociology from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Applied Accounting from Oxford Brookes University, U.K, Post Graduate Certificate in Business Research Methods from Herriot-Watt University, UK, MSc Degrees in Agricultural Economics from University of Ibadan, Nigeria and Finance and Investment from University of Exeter, UK. as a Chevening Scholar. I am a Chartered Accountant. In terms of work experience, I started out in learning and development and administration. I went on to audit and accountancy, then banking and management consultancy. I have had to leverage, over the years, on these very practical and useful experience in my roles at CIS. Indeed, no experience is ever wasted.
Q. You were reputed for winning multiple awards during your Master’s Degree in Investment and Securities in the United Kingdom as a Chevening Scholar. Can we have more insights?
During my Post Graduate Studies in the United Kingdom, i won the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI) Top Postgraduate Award, CISI Educational Trust Award and CFA Award for Outstanding Investment Analysis, UK. I am currently studying for a PhD. in Accounting and Finance.
Q. What has been your driving force as the Chief Executive of the Institute?
My primary motivation is to contribute my own quota to the development of our institute and our country, Nigeria. Despite the challenges we face in Nigeria, I see enormous opportunities and possibilities. The greatness of this country will only be unleashed if each of us in his/her our own sphere of influence does his/her bit. When we aggregate our seemingly little and insignificant efforts, it becomes huge and impactful. Each time I put this in focus, I get the motivation to keep moving on.
Q. Under your administration, the Institute has reviewed its professional examination’s syllabus. Are you satisfied with the current one which provides opportunities for specialization?
Let me start by saying the process of syllabus review is a continuous one in view of the dynamism of the financial market and the need to keep our curriculum up to date. Hence, being, conscious of the multi-faceted nature of the Securities and Investment Profession, the Institute has created Specialized Professional Certifications (SPCs) to build skills and competences of members of the Institute in Equities Dealing, Fixed Income Dealing, Commodity Trading and Derivatives, Share Registration and Custodianship Services, Investment/Fund Management and Financial Advisory Services. This has simplified considerably the process of getting certified to practice in the Nigerian Capital Market. It also allows for flexibility, such that those who wish to specialize in specific areas in the market can do so without needing to write the omnibus examination.
Q. With members that are less than 4000, the Institute is believed to have the least membership base, compared with its professional peers. Why?
I guess it all boils down to the low level of awareness about the capital market which the CIS is working with other stakeholders to address. As we speak, less that 5 million Nigerians have investments in the capital market. So, most Nigerians are not aware of the enormous career opportunities provided by the profession. This has impacted negatively on students’ enrolment. I also have to mention the loss of confidence in the Nigerian capital market resulting from the unfortunate global economic meltdown of 2008/2009. Many investors got their fingers burnt and it has been challenging to convince them to return to the capital market. Therefore, across the strata of the society, capital market education is a strategic imperative required at both academic and professional education levels to create awareness on capital formation and wealth building. This will inculcate the savings and investment culture nationally, and attract talents to the securities industry.
Q. It has been argued by many candidates of the Institute that its syllabus is too wide and demanding as many topics are similar to that of Certified International Investment Analysts (CIIA), Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA), and some other global examinations. Can this be attributed to low performance of many candidates ?
Well, our examination curriculum is designed to comparable to the best globally. We realize that financial markets are getting more and more integrated, hence similar skills are required by investment professionals worldwide, irrespective of their location. The institute intends to maintain its high standard so that we can continue to produce professionals who can compete anywhere in the world. Therefore, anyone desirous of obtaining the CIS certification should be prepared to put in the hard work required to study and pass the required examinations. The examinations are challenging, but surely success is achievable with focus and hard work.
Q. There are two categories of stockbrokers: Those who qualified before the commencement of the Institute and the ones that passed through the Institute’s examination. What is the Institute doing to bridge the knowledge gap?
Before anyone is certified fit and proper to be admitted into membership of the institute by the Governing Council, they must have been adjudged to have the requisite skill, capacity and character. So really, irrespective of the time admitted as member or the route to membership, every member of the institute is considered fit and proper by Council. However, to maintain their cutting edge, members are required to meet specified Continuing Professional Development requirements annually to keep them up-to-date with new techniques, new regulations etc in the ever-dynamic capital market. All members are required to keep themselves up-to-date in the profession.
Q. You have canvassed in many fora that a stockbroker has an array of job opportunities. Can you expatiate?
According to the law in Nigeria, a Stockbroker is defined as a professional whose business is to effect transactions in securities including Debentures, Stocks, Bonds, issued or proposed to be issued by a government or body corporate, any rights or options in respect of any such Debentures, Stocks, Shares, Bonds or Notes; or Commodities Futures, Contracts, Options, and other Derivatives, and such term Securities in the ISA including those mentioned above…..(Section 315 ISA, 2007 and CAMA, 2004).’’ This states without any ambiguity that stockbrokers are not just equity dealers as it is erroneously held by some, but security dealers. In addition to security dealing, stockbrokers are trained to be investment advisers, portfolio managers, pension fund managers etc. Moreover, we need stock brokers in every sector where securities are packaged, traded or regulated including commercial and investment banks, the Central Bank of Nigeria, regulatory organizations like the DMO, NDIC, AMCOM, SEC, all security trading platform. Stock brokers are needed to manage finance and package transactions in Government Ministries, Agencies and Departments. We need stockbrokers as financial consultants. So, the opportunities are simply enormous.
Q. Despite the wide latitude of job opportunities, why is it that many government parastatals are yet to place premium on recruiting stockbrokers?
Again, it has to be lack of awareness about the capacity and skills of a stockbroker. But, I will admit that the institute and its members need to do a lot more advocacy work along these lines. Gradually, awareness is being created, but we need to do a lot more to promote our brand.
Q. What is your vision for the Institute in the next five years?
In the next 5 years I would like to see the institute grow its membership base aggressively, especially by bringing in youths in their numbers to the profession. By that time CIS qualification will be the preferred choice among competing certifications. I would like to see CIS taking its rightful place in the Nigerian capital market and at the forefront of advocacy to support the Federal Government in creating the capital market of our dreams: a market which will truly be the platform for capital formation and wealth creation for transforming the Nigerian economy.