We have about 190 listed companies today, 73 of them have no woman on their boards, 10 percent have 20 percent women on their boards and I think there are only 15 female CEOs of the 190 listed companies.
You recently said SEC will work with CAC on some regulations on having more women directors in quoted firms. What format will it take?
It is important to have more women on boards. We have about 190 listed companies today, 73 of them have no woman on their boards, 10 percent have 20 percent women on their boards and I think there are only 15 female CEOs of the 190 listed companies. What we have found out recently is that there is some link between the performance of companies and the number of women they have on their board. And that linkage is very positive that the more women we have on the board, the more likely their performance would rise. There is a catalyst organizational study that companies which had more women on their board, at least 19 percent of their board members being women, did better in terms of ROI, and in terms of other profitability indicators. My suspicion is that the reason for that is that first if you have got women on the board, it opens up the market to the broader range so when you are crafting your policies, when you are reviewing how you are doing as a board, the questions would point you to some things that may not have come out if you had just one gender - if you had a board that is solely men.
The other thing is that diversity inspires innovation; there is a linkage between diversity and innovation because people come from different directions, so we think that something should be done. The Companies and Allied Matters Act was last reviewed in 1990. There was a recent amendment which was very specific. We think that one of the things which should be looked into is certainly having a clause that encourages greater participation of women. We are the custodian of the SEC Code of Corporate Governance, so through that we can somewhat influence that issue. But I think that the best ways is that the companies themselves look at that issue as something that is most beneficial to them because it opens up the space for them and their market. So, we will probably report in a more granular fashion on this issue of having more women on boards.
How can women tap into the capital market for investment opportunities?
First and foremost, what I tell everyone is that investing is very critical. If you are going to invest, you must have some level of familiarity on what you are going to invest in. Even if you have an expert that is helping you, you must be able to ask the right questions to that advice. First and foremost, my advice to people is to focus on building their knowledge because it is a skill that you will need through your life because saving and investing help you to raise your standard of living, to save for your retirement, to save for any health challenge you may face or to save for the education of your children. So, it is a skill that people should learn about.
In fact at the SEC, we have broadened our financial education to include all kinds of tools, so we are working with Nollywood, we have the movie Breeze, and we have short documentaries like Easy Money, Mutual Benefits that was recently released in that respect.
But we at SEC are saying that don’t expect to understand the market the way that financial experts understand it. Look at how to intelligently leverage the financial market. We are recommending mutual funds. Mutual funds allow you to invest a small amount, but to have the opportunity of investing that amount in several companies or several types of products. So if you have N5000 you can buy a money market bond and that money market bond can invest in various treasury bills.
Are you thinking of regulations and incentives that would encourage women to invest in collective investment schemes (CIS)?
I think in 2010, we first drew attention to the fact that as a retail now steal their money. We also have tried to improve the capacity of fund management firms; we also asked that they come together as a trade group so that we can interact with them much more efficiently. We are very proud with what they have done; they have put together a strategic document which basically shows what the potentials are for Collective Investment Schemes. And today, we have less than 200,000 who are leveraging into CIS funds to save and invest.
There is clearly room for more to be done; we have about $1bn of funds under management that is very investor, you may consider as an alternative instead of investing directly yourself while you are not so familiar with the company, that you may seek the services of a financial expert and go through collective investment schemes. Before we did that, we decided to enhance the regulations of fund managers because you do not want a situation where you are encouraging people to go to mutual funds and it turns out that the fund managers will small for a country of 167 million people. So the potential is enormous. One of the things we are looking at doing, and hopefully we will be able to achieve it this year is to make sure that we have a common standard for reporting on performance so that the investors can compare one from another, so we are looking at what CFA does. The Global Performance Standards is a standard we should look at adopting in Nigeria. What we want to do is to make sure that