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Opinions of Monday, 23 November 2020

Columnist: Armah I.J Akotey, Xorlali Torso, Miriam Amoako

Buying and selling bonds on the capital market in Ghana

Carl Odame-Gyenti, Finance and Telecom enthusiast Carl Odame-Gyenti, Finance and Telecom enthusiast

Recent reforms in the financial sector in Ghana which led to the revocation of the licenses of some commercial Banks, Savings and Loans, Microfinance Institutions has necessitated the need for potential investors to continue deepening their understanding of the financial industry. A recent publication by Business and Financial Times dated November 3, 2020, also made an important remark pointing to the fact that Fund Managers were losing clients to Banks.

In my view, empowering potential retail and corporate investors to understand the basics and necessary tools to the market in which they operate is the first step in helping them make the right choice and to obtain financial freedom. In my previous article published in Business and Financial times and dated June 2, 2020, I made an effort to demystify the concept of bonds, explained into detail how a class one child could even understand bonds, various types of bonds, risk and returns, various types of issuers and why the need for Governments, Corporates and Municipal authorities to raise funding through the capital market. I really found it intriguing the feedback received on the article which reached millions of people across the world. In view of that article, I received a lot of request from many people who are struggling to understand the requirements and even process involved in either buying or selling securities in Ghana. My focus in this piece is to delve into some steps in buying some of these financial securities. I may not be able to exhaust the entire process, but I am sure the highlights below may be beneficial.

Visit a Commercial Bank or Broker Dealer

Purchasing treasuries on the primary and secondary market is done through any Ghanaian broker licensed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Some of the major primary dealers and brokers include Databank, IC Securities, Strategic African Securities Ghana etc. Some commercial banks (the likes of Standard Chartered Bank) are licensed as dealers by the Bank of Ghana to actively trade bonds. Ghanaians and foreigners can actively own bonds. However, you must be a Ghanaian to purchase the shorter dated instruments thus Treasury Bills issued by the BoG. In this era of digitization and innovation, some banks like Standard Chartered Bank have placed these bonds and bills on their Mobile App to offer convenience and encourage clients to invest at any time.

Complete Central Securities Depository (CSD) Form

The next step is to complete and submit a CSD form with a passport picture and a copy of a valid identification card. A one-time unique number and account will be created to hold an investor’s local currency securities/portfolio thus Investment in T-bills and Bonds.

The CSD was established as a specialist financial organization holding securities such as shares in uncertificated (dematerialized) form so that ownership can be easily transferred through book entry form rather than the transfer of physical certificates. This allows individuals, institutions brokers and financial companies to hold their securities at one location where they can be available for clearing and settlement. This is usually done electronically, making it much faster and easier than was traditionally the case where physical certificates had to be exchanged after a trade had been completed.

In some cases, CSD may carry out centralized comparison, and transaction processing such as clearing and settlement of securities transfers, securities pledges, and securities freezes. It is important to note that, you don’t need to open multiple CSD numbers.

Risk Assessment

Every investor/individual needs to ascertain their risk appetite. This process is to determine one’s investment objective, capital preservation, preferred interest or gains, preferred tenor of investment, risk tolerance and how much of capital one may be willing to lose at early redemption or when market takes a nose dive. This largely applies to the potential investor who is actively trading on the secondary market. On the primary market, the assumptions are that due diligence will be done on the Issuer in other forms if the bonds are rated. If not rated, other risk assessment parameters are carefully assessed

The above assessment will help narrow down on the specific bonds that suits one’s individual needs and objectives.

Complete Purchase Order Form

As an investor, you need to complete a purchase order form which basically details the bond of choice, your intended principal/face value or the settlement amount (thus the amount to be debited from your account). Ideally for those investors who are keen in know the returns on the bond purchased, the broker can assist with all the information’s relating to the transaction. Some banks provide notifications which details the expected returns.

Due to how often the Government of Ghana issues bonds and how vibrant the bond market is, we currently have over 30 bonds available to investors.

Minimum Amount Required

Most of the feedback I have received from potential investors relates to the amount required to invest in bonds. It is always interesting to know people`s perception about investment amount required to purchase some of these securities. The minimum purchase amount at issuance is usually Ghs50,000. However, some banks and brokerage firms are able to peg the minimum purchase to Ghs1,000 for retail clients. A case can be made of Standard Chartered Bank where retail clients can purchase bonds as low as Ghs1,000 on the SC Mobile App.

Top sum up, complex things can me made simpler if there is clear understanding about the requirement to undertake an investment. Take the initiative and begin to create wealth on the capital market. Speak to a professional investment adviser, bank, licensed broker and seek for proper guidance.