Can Training help the Nigerian Capital Markets? Interview with Delme Thompson
Category: Capital Market
April 26, 2012/ London - Being an interview with Delme Thompson, Managing Director of the Capital Markets Academy. As the former head of Training Services at the London Stock Exchange (LSE), Delme Thompson has seen numerous international scenarios unfold. Here we speak to him about what he sees as key steps for recovery in Nigeria’s Capital Markets, and why he chose this time to establish The Capital Markets Academy.
What exactly is The Capital Markets Academy? We’re an independent training company dedicated to serving institutions and individuals that are either directly involved in, or closely affected by the global financial markets. We’re supported by a wide range of experts from the City of London and are an accredited training provider for the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment.
So you’re a financial training firm? No. And Yes. We cover much more than just “financial firms”. Our team have worked with organisations right across the spectrum from governments who want to clean up and raise standards in their local financial sector, to overseas Stock Exchanges, regulators, financial firms and stock brokers…right through to private companies who may make widgets, dairy products or run mining operations…but want their staff to be fully versed in the relevant international topics such as The UK Bribery Act, Corporate Governance, or Mergers & Acquisitions. I describe us as being a training business rooted within the financial markets – not just a financial training firm.
The London Stock Exchange is a huge brand, what made you leave at a time like this, and set up independently? It’s precisely because of everything that’s going on that we felt it was the right time. I think there is just too much evidence now to deny that the old models of doing business are crumbling and that there is a growing hunger for new approaches. Whether it’s governments insisting on tighter regulation, business lobbies calling for more transparency, demands from businesses for more help winning contracts or demonstrators in Capital cities protesting at what they see as a broken version of capitalism, the need and indeed the opportunity for change is all around us.
I may be biased, but I see the financial markets as a central hub in a nation’s economy that should facilitate business, not overshadow or threaten it, but actively encourage entrepreneurialism, help businesses grow and enable international trade. I think that has sometimes been missed in recent years.
Having spent three years at the Stock Exchange working with some amazing clients, I regularly came across a shift in the international marketplace towards equipping the current leaders, and younger generations to lead business that make a positive contribution to societies and deliver good profits.
Combine all that with a strong personal vision I’ve been unpacking for years to organisation that genuinely helps people access the learning and resources to transform their business and marketplaces, and it all added up to the right time to take the leap of faith. While The Capital Markets Academy may be a new brand, our trainers and management team are all highly experienced, so knowing you have that quality on the team makes the leap much easier – and exciting!
What makes you different from your competitors? Our vision, and the way we go about delivering it. Many of the international clients I have worked with have often commented that they see London as the leading financial centre in the world, which they can learn a lot from. We should treat the respect that international markets have for that, with responsibility and an offer of collaboration, not pride or arrogance. Through the services we offer and the way we go about our business, we aim to come alongside organisations who want to equip their staff now, for a productive future and enable their organisation to contribute to their local economies.
Looking at Nigeria in particular, no doubt you’ve read much of the comments in online and in our national press recently about the search for a lasting solution for the Capital Market. Is training really the answer? Training is a tool and just like any other work, when the right tool is applied in the right way, the results can be excellent, but a tool is not a “magic solution” all on its own. Experience has shown us that when people reach a point where they are ready to move forward, and are prepared to put the effort in, THAT is when the most learning, advancement and progress takes place.
So what do you think will make the biggest difference to Nigeria right now? It would be rude of me to comment on what Nigeria “should do” as there are many good people working diligently in this area already. But if someone were to ask me what I believe can help stimulate a recovery in circumstances similar to those we’re seeing in Nigeria right now then there would be three things that spring to mind:
1)Developing clear regulation that simplifies the landscape for companies and investors alike – as this can help boost confidence.
2)Looking at the infrastructure in the economy in question, and by that I mean both financial and physical infrastructure. Are the banks willing to lend to businesses, and if not why not? Can business operate efficiently enough to compete and if not, what holds them back?
From the newswires and interviews we’re seeing, it seems as though these two points are being addressed and I look forward to seeing how things unfold. The third point however, and the one that I believe underpins everything else is:
3)A willingness to change attitudes.
What do you mean by that? Simply put, we make most decisions based on emotions and our own personal values. Whether you’re the junior office person or CEO of a multinational corporation, different pressures and influences - and your management of them - will impact your decisions. The debacle in the UK and US financial worlds (not to mention Europe!) recently has served as a prime example of what happens when short term thinking dominates.
Whether it’s the banks creating products that almost nobody really understands so they can keep repackaging and reselling debt, or an unemployed individual accepting a fourth credit card so they can buy the things they want – with no idea of how they will ever pay for it…we’ve seen the acceptance of a culture where the prime objective is to win today and think about the consequences tomorrow. That is simply unsustainable and I believe we’re seeing repeated calls for change, not just in Nigeria but around the world.
The role of training is to help people absorb information, create ideas and implement them. If the ideas are based on short term gain, then crisis will always follow at some point. But when individuals and businesses commit to long term development, practices that do not encourage “rent seeking” as it is often politely called, and strive to embed these values in every aspect of their activity then we will see a dramatic shift in how the business community treats one another, and what is considered the norm.
That appears easier said than done? We should be under no illusions that changing business practices is easy. It requires bravery, commitment and the understanding and backing of all stakeholders – BUT, when people make these commitments, the reality is often not as harsh as we first fear.
Can you give an example? Imagine you are the MD of a mid-size company with fierce competitors. The norm is to have to tolerate rent seeking in order to get things processed, supplies delivered, contracts signed etc. But you know there is a change coming, your board are behind you and you know you have one or two key clients that would respond well to you setting a new benchmark. Would there not be a great opportunity to quietly get your team qualified in key areas that not only meet their regulatory requirements, but surpass them, build strong links with central market influencers and then begin a strong marketing campaign that centres on trust, transparency, and commitment to a better tomorrow and a new way of thinking?
People do business with people they trust. And the international community certainly looks for credibility and trustworthiness when seeking a local partner, so the potential upside could be enormous. If the general landscape is often viewed as somewhat cloudy, then a single light shine brightly.
True, one or two deals may take longer to come off, or fall by the wayside if you are now refusing to play the game, but increased credibility, winning the trust of just one or two core clients and attracting attention from new areas will yield benefits. And the first movers to do things like this, I believe, will begin a race towards a new business climate.
What will be the role of The Capital Markets Academy in all this? As we discussed at the outset, our vision is to engage with and work alongside those who want to advance, to help them access the best possible resources and to make sure that we approach this mission on a long term, collaborative basis. That’s why we’re launching a survey to hear the views of the Nigerian business community right now.
So what does 2012 hold for the CMA and you personally? Well, without sharing all our secrets, we’ve recently delivered a project for a Middle Eastern Stock Exchange and are speaking to them about two more, we’re in discussions with another Middle Eastern regulator about helping them develop a training institute in their marketplace, and I’m looking forward to spending some time in Lagos in the near future to meet with industry leaders and hold our inaugural Executive Development Programme, which we’ll be sharing more information on shortly. Mix that in with raising 3 young children and it’s likely to be an interesting year!
MARKET SURVEY Readers are invited to share their views on the Nigerian Capital Markets for publication on Proshare later in 2012 and receive an exclusive offer for the upcoming executive development programme.
To receive this offer simply complete The Capital Markets Academy’s survey here: http://svy.mk/H2pupi .