Financial gateway to Ghana and Beyond
Founded in March 1994, CAL Brokers Limited is a Ghana-based investment brokerage with a rising reputation in the industry as innovators and leaders in Ghana’s financial sector. However, with mounting interest from foreign investors into the broader West African region, CBL is looking ahead to offer an even wider access to its growing clientele.
CAL Brokers Limited (CBL) was established as a licensed dealing member of the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) and is a wholly owned subsidiary of CAL Bank, a major universal bank publically listed on the GSE (GSE:CAL).
Under the leadership of chief executive officer David Ganesha Tetteh, a stock broker who has worked in the capital markets for over decade and has served on the Ghana Stock Exchange’s Listing and Finance committees, the company offers a number of services including online securities trading, trading of equities and bonds on the GSE, investment advisory services, as well as helping Ghana-based small-to-medium sized enterprises find capital.
In addition to its expertise in various forms of security issues and trades, CAL Brokers analysts have sponsored, advised and assisted various companies to raise capital and be listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange as well.
“We’re [currently] working to issue corporate bonds for about five companies; the corporate bond market is very green in Ghana,” explains Tetteh. “We have a lot of local and foreign investor clients that are interested in fixed income in Ghana, especially the government bonds. But the programme for corporate bonds has attracted a lot of attention.”
To date, CAL Brokers has raised GHS40 million in government bond transactions, which has been helping to build momentum towards corporates issuing more bonds as well.
Tetteh believes one of CAL Brokers’ greatest strengths is its well-resourced research desk, where its team collects in-depth research, analyses timely industry-related data and assesses its impact on the financial market. What this does is provide CBL with that competitive edge to be able to identify successful investment opportunities and offer solid advice to its clients.
“We believe that the availability of relevant information is an effective tool for decision making,” he says.
However, one of the biggest challenges interested parties have had to investing in the GSE is getting convenient access to the market and that invaluable information for smart decision-making.
So on January 23, 2009, CBL released an offering that not only worked to eliminate that challenge, but helped further establish the company’s reputation as thought-leaders in Ghana’s financial sector.
The service, called iBroker, is considered the first of its kind in Ghana and grants its users convenient access to research and information, as well as offers them the ability to track their investments and execute transactions on the GSE through the Internet.
“They don’t have to call the broker anymore to issue transactions,” says Tetteh. “Once you set up the account with us, you can do your own transactions.”
The feedback has been positive thus far, predominantly coming from its users in the UK, Europe and the United States. However, in 2013, Tetteh has plans to expand its execution capabilities to beyond Ghana and offer its clients access into other African markets, like the Nigerian Stock Exchange. “It’s something we’re exploring at the moment.”
Investing in Ghana
The Ghana Stock Exchange was incorporated in 1989 as a private company and trading on the floor of the Exchange began in late 1990. By 1994, the GSE was converted into a public company and today has 36 listed companies valued at about US $54 billion.
“In 2008, [GSE] was one of the best performing markets in the world, in terms of returns. Then it went down until about 2012, when the market returned by 23 per cent,” explains Tetteh.
The Exchange is now dominated by financial sector stocks, like banking and insurance, indicative of the growing strength of Ghana’s banking sector. Not unlike many other areas of Africa, the consumer story is getting larger in Ghana as well, which is reflected in the GSE’s listed consumer brands like Unilever, Fan Milk Limited and Guinness Ghana Breweries. And with Ghana recently becoming an oil producer, mining and oil companies like AngloGold Ashanti and Tullow Oil represent almost 60 per cent of the capitalisation, he says.
“In the past people have complained about access to information, but I think it has improved significantly now. Regulations are also in harmony with most around the world that investors are used to. The number one challenge is liquidity if you are investing in the stock markets,” explains Tetteh. “But things are looking quite good in 2013 and beyond.”
Tetteh is bold with his goals for the future, but CAL Brokers arguably has the experience and successes so far to confidently back them up. “Our goal is to become one of the best brokers across the West African region in the next three to five years,” he says.
The company is already in a positive spot, recognised among peers as an innovator in the financial sector as well as recognised by its international clients as a brokerage that provides insights into the inner workings of individual companies and the market at large.
Tetteh has hopes to see CBL expand its execution into Francophone West Africa and into the Nigerian Stock Exchange, while simultaneously offering clients a wider research and execution reach as well.
“We have very good relationships with all the listed companies, so it’s easier to get research out of them. We also have a wide range of domestic and international investors, so executing transactions are comparatively easier for us; it gives us a key edge in the market…We want to be the preferred broker for international investors to get into West Africa.”