PICTURE LEFT: Amoy Van Lowe COURTESY: Nicole Drayton
There will come a time when entrepreneurs will not be able to access debt financing (bank loans) to grow their businesses and will not have any choice but to consider listing on the Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange (TTSE).
This is the argument put forward by the TTSE CEO, Amoy Van Lowe who in an
interview with the Business Guardian said: “At some point in time, going to the bank for debt is going to come to an end and therefore if you want further expansion—the exchange is a viable option.”
Van Lowe continued that a company’s “debt to equity ratio is going to get to a point where they need to find another way to grow their business or other ways to find funds to expand their business—and I know that the banks will do the right thing by channelling them to another opportunity.”
Notwithstanding the challenges, Van Lowe described the country’s capital market as “a potential pearl” and said the Brokers, Entrepreneurs, Regulators, Ministry of Finance, Listed Companies, Various Chambers, Associations, Trinidad and Tobago International Financial Centre “need to work in greater unison to realise this under-tapped resource.”
From the corporate perspective, Van Lowe admitted that it has been argued that there is a narrow pool to select from.
She asserted that as a consequence, one finds the Corporate investors, Pensions Funds, etc holding on to their performing shares for their respective Portfolios. While the TTSE CEO noted that one cannot find fault in that approach, because it is
what any savvy investor would do, she said that it does create a challenge.
Van Lowe explained that from the individual perspective, the culture in T&T is one where persons are quite risk averse and the country is not. Additionally, she adds that T&T does not have a natural a trading culture.
Van Lowe asserted: “Whether they are not investing due to a lack of adequate knowledge of investing or persons purchasing and holding the shares, there is reduced activity in our market today, which contributes to our market being, to
some degree illiquid.”
Van Lowe said for this reason, the TTSE is working assiduously towards making the whole investing mechanism and by extension trading more widely accessible.
She said that having the infrastructure to support active trading and educating the public about investing are the two components needed in order to create a market that is responsive and dynamic.
TTSE’s Online Trading Platform
One of the strategic initiatives that the TTSE will implement to increase accessibility to investment opportunities is the establishment of an online trading platform, referred to as TOP (TTSE Online Platform).
Van Lowe articulated that online trading is nothing new to the wider international market but for our local market it is another strategic step to empowering investors, stimulating trading and help grow the market.
The soon-to-be-launched TOP is a project that has been in the pipeline and it is one of the TTSE’s key strategic initiatives.
Van Lowe said TOP will provide a more efficient and faster means to trade, with investors having 24/7 access to view real-time movements in their portfolio and the market.
She said the platform will help stimulate the market and provide an avenue for greater reach in an era where online accessibility is more appealing to all investors, especially the younger generation.
For investors wishing to trade on TOP, they must register for a TOP account online via the webbased application, have a Trinidad & Tobago Central Depository account (TTCD a/c); and possess an e-mail address. To access this service “you must have a broker.”
She noted however “if you don’t have a broker there will be list of broker information on the site that will guide you accordingly.”
Once the broker approves your account Van Lowe said you can begin to trade.
In an effort to modernise and increase investor awareness of TTSE, the organisation is also gearing up to launch its “new brand identity.”
In January 2020, Van Lowe added that the TTSE launched its eStatement platform which improves accessibility to the investor whilst at the same time doing its part in preserving our environment.”
Recent transactions in the Market
When asked about the recent situation with Bourse Securities and the First Citizens IPO, Van Lowe said that she could not comment on the matter.
However, she reassured all stakeholders, especially the investing public that together with the Board and Management the TTSE will continue to assess and evaluate areas of vulnerability and implement solutions aimed at providing a fair and orderly market for the benefit of all our investors.
When asked if the recent publications on the matter would have cast suspicion on the brokerage community, Van Lowe said: “I think we can all see that there has been several bit of reports on it and like any other human you are going to question.”
She continued: “I also believe that the SEC over the last few days has been doing its endeavour best to put out information into the public domain that seeks to clarify how they go about their process— so any individual can read and understand the
process that was taken because it was a pain staking step by step process.” Van Lowe said however, that she does not believe it cast a long shadow on the community.
She said: “It’s a six year matter several things have been put in place, both at the SEC and at the Stock Exchange just to ensure that we don’t have any repeat or recurrence of any situation and I can assure you that the board and myself continue
to monitor our rules, our regulations and our requirements to address anything like that.”
When asked if someone can be representing the board of the Stock Exchange and a brokerage firm simultaneously, Van Lowe said that “it is enshrined in our Rules and these Rules form part of the Securities Act, that Members must have representation on the Board of the Exchange.”
However, Van Lowe clarified that “an active trader cannot be a member of the board.”
She continued: “So it’s more than just a matter of allowing Directors to work as Brokers it is a requirement that our Member Broker/Dealers are represented.”
One of the strategic initiatives that the TTSE will implement to increase accessibility to investment opportunities is the establishment of an online trading platform, referred to as TOP (TTSE Online Platform)