Sharp Financial Media

Full Media Finance For You

Financial Freedom Wants and Dreams

How many times have you read or seen in the media advertisements from financial institutions telling you to give them your money, and they will achieve financial freedom for you? These ads are all over the media because the two words financial freedom is the new “Buzzwords” that are used by these financial institutions today to get you to give them your money.

If a financial institution promises you that they will give you something that you want you will tend to believe them whether they can actually deliver are not. Many financial institutions use these buzzwords to attract you into their fold and believe they can do what they say they will do. This is being lulled into a false sense of security.

It is impossible for the financial institutions to achieve financial freedom for you. Financial freedom is achieved by you and you only. Let’s explore what the true definition of financial freedom really is; it’s when your wealth works for you, not you working for it.

The financial institutions achieve financial freedom for themselves, at your expense. These financial institutions have armies of people known as, financial planners, persuading consumers two give them their money. Once the consumers give the financial institutions their money they have agreed indirectly to let them take fees and charges from these dollars for as long as they want, or until there’s no money left. In good times the consumers receive some growth on their money, but in bad times their money is eroded away. In all cases the financial institutions take their fees and charges and commissions during growth periods and loss periods.

The financial institutions practice financial freedom for themselves and you are contributing to their financial freedom. If you don’t believe this open the newspaper or do Google search on the wealth that the people at the top of these companies earn. These dollars come from you!

Financial freedom comes from you personally achieving your wants and dreams, not by any financial institution. How do you do this? This is done through a clear understanding of the “Law of Attraction”. Now you’re probably asking what the “Law of Attraction” is. The “Law of Attraction” is a natural law of the universe that allows you to attract what you want and dream about, and the reciprocal receiving of what you put into the universe. In other words if you put out good things good things will come back to you and vice versa.

The “Law of Attraction” must deliver what you think about, into your reality. So many times people live mediocre lives because they do not allow themselves the luxury of thinking, solely about their wants and dreams. If you don’t know what you want, then the universe cannot deliver it to you. You must program your subconscious mind with what it is you’re wanting.

The simple fact about the subconscious mind is that it doesn’t know the difference between imaginary in real it thinks everything you think about is real therefore it must deliver what you think about. The subconscious mind is very powerful and it has the ability to connect with your creator and give you what it is you want without question. It’s like a “genie in a bottle”. It will deliver without question what you tell it to deliver when you want it.

There are many books are written about this subject and a process. This process is as old as time but put down by many people as “new age”. When in reality there is nothing new age about it is very old, with a proven track record of success over the centuries. One of the books that is very popular about how this process works is “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. Napoleon hill learn this information from Andrew Carnegie who at that time was the wealthiest man in the world. He wrote it in his book in the early nineteen hundreds with hundreds of thousands of copies sold to date, in many different languages.

The statistics prove true as to who will actually practice this way of thinking or not. If 10% of the people control 90% of the world’s wealth than this proves that the financial institutions, financial planners or advisers, and many accounts are wrong otherwise the 90% would be in control wouldn’t they? The 10% will always excel and think outside the box, the90% will stay in the box.

If you’re reading this article without a background in the “Law of Attraction” you probably should do a little research into how this law works. One of the best places to learn is by watching “The Secret” which explains the “Law of Attraction” from many different perspectives.

Within our Personal Economic Coach process we guide our clients into building economic models which simulate their economic future, along with building a wants based model of their wants and dreams throughout their life. Through these dual modeling processes clients are able to simulate their financial future, see the mistakes before they are made than correct them. It’s like having a financial crystal ball! After the economic models are built the wants to based model is built simulating their wants and dreams throughout their life.

All of this together insurer’s financial success and personal success in clients lives.

College Financial Aid FAQ

Financially Challenged? There’s lots of free college information available online, and here are some of the most popular questions when it comes to student Financial Aid. Learn about the difference between grants, student loans and college scholarships and bank on your future!

  1. What is Financial Aid? Financial aid is monetary aid to help you pay for your college education. Aid is made available from grants, college scholarships, student loans, and part-time employment from federal, state, institutional, and private sources. The types and amounts of aid awarded are determined by financial need, available funds, student classification, academic performance, and sometimes the timeliness of application.
  2. What is the FAFSA? FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA is the Federal Department of education’s primary application for financial aid and is the gateway form to just about any other federal, state or private grants, college scholarships, student loans or college work study programs. The FAFSA form must be filled out each year between January 1 and March 10th (although some colleges have their own earlier deadlines) and can be completed online or by mail. Four to six weeks after you file the FAFSA (two to four weeks if you filed electronically), you will receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) which will contain a summary of the information you submitted on your FAFSA and presents your Expected Family contributions (EFC) which tells you the amount your family is expected to contribute towards your education. The amount of financial aid is then determined approximately by the tuition of your college subtracted by your EFC. If you do not receive the SAR within a reasonable amount of time, you can call the Federal Processor at 1-319-337-5665. Review the SAR carefully for errors. If necessary, make any corrections on Part 2 of the SAR and return it promptly to the address listed on the form. You will then be sent a new SAR with the changes made.
  3. What is the College Scholarship Services Profile (CSS Profile)? Some colleges also require you to fill out a College Scholarship Services Profile form in addition to the FAFSA. It is a secondary financial aid form that supplies further information about your family income. Be sure to check whether this form is necessary and about specific deadlines with your college directly.
  4. What is the difference between a Grant, a Student Loan and a College Scholarship? A grant is free money from government or non-profit organizations that does not need to be repaid. Grants are usually determined by financial need but can also be influenced by academic merit. Unlike grants, student loans are money loaned from an academic institution, financial institution, or federal government that must be repaid. Like a grant, a student scholarship is free money, but is generally offered through colleges, businesses, private individuals and outside sponsors. Those awarded by the college itself are often called MERIT AID. While grants tend to be issued according to financial need, college scholarships are awarded on a broad-base of criteria, the most common being academic merit. Furthermore, to receive any grants or loans you must complete a FAFSA, however, many scholarships may not require you to complete a FAFSA to be eligible. Instead, you may need to obtain application material directly from the donor of the scholarship.
  5. What are the different kinds of grants? There are federal as well as campus-based (institutional) grants. Federal Grants are free gift money from the Federal Department of Education while campus-based grants are government funds issued directly from your college. The campus-based grants provide a certain amount of funds for each participating school to administer each year. When the money for a program is gone, no more awards can be made from that program for that year, so make sure you find out about the types of grants awarded by each college you are considering as well as their specific deadline. Below are some of the most common grants.
  6. Federal Grants Pell Grants are considered a foundation of federal financial aid, to which aid from other federal and non-federal sources might be added. Pell Grants are usually only awarded to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor’s or a professional degree. The amount you get depends on your financial need, your college’s tuition, your status as a full-time or part-time student and your plans to attend school for a full academic year or less. The Academic Competitiveness Grant is a new grant available to first year college students who graduated from high school after January 1, 2006 or for second year college students who graduated from high school after January 1, 2005. Only students who are eligible for a Federal Pell Grant and who has successfully completed a rigorous high school program as determined by the state or local education agency and recognized by the Secretary of Education. An Academic Competitiveness Grant will provide up to $750 for the first year of undergraduate study and up to $1,300 for the second year of undergraduate study for full-time students who are eligible for a Federal Pell Grant. The National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (AKA the National Smart Grant) is available during the third and fourth years of undergraduate study to full-time students who are eligible for the Federal Pell Grant and who are majoring in physical life, or computer sciences, mathematics, technology, or engineering or in a foreign language determined critical to national security. The student must have also maintained a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3. 0 in coursework required for the major. The National SMART Grant award is in addition to the student’s Pell Grant award. Campus-based Grants
  7. The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) The FSEOG is a campus-based grant aimed at assisting students with exceptional financial need. Pell Grant recipients with the lowest expected family contributions (EFCs) will be considered first for a FSEOG. You can receive between $100 and $4,000 a year depending on when you apply, your financial need, the funding at the school you are attending, and the policies of the financial aid office at your school.
  8. What are the different kinds of student loans? A student loan is money that needs to be repaid after you have completed your studies. Generally, interest rates are low- so that you do not rack up as much debt as you would with a credit card or bank loan. There are campus-based loans, which you repay directly to your college, as well as federal loans which you repay either directly to the U.S. government or to your financial institution.
  9. Campus-based LoansFederal Perkins Loan The Federal Perkins loan is a campus- based loan because it is administered directly by the financial aid office at each participating school. In other words, your school is the lender although the loan is made with government funds. Your school will either pay you directly or apply your loan to your school charges. You’ll receive the loan in at least two payments during the academic year. You can borrow up to $4,000 for each year of undergraduate study with a maximum of $20,000 for your entire undergraduate degree. The amount you receive depends on when you apply, your financial need and the funding level at your school. The Federal Perkins Loan is a low-interest , 5 % loan for students with exceptional financial need. You must repay this loan directly to your school and you have nine months to begin your repayment plan after you graduate. Generally you will make monthly payments to the school that loaned you the money over a 10 year period. Federal LoansThe U.S. Department of Education administers the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program and the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program. Both the FFEL and Direct Loan programs consist of what are generally known as 1. Stafford Loans (for students) and 2. PLUS loans (for Parents). Schools generally participate in either the FFEL or Direct Loan program, but sometimes schools participate in both. For either type of loan, you must fill out FAFSA, after which your school will review the results and will review the results and will inform you about your loan eligibility. You also will have to sign a promissory note, a binding legal document that lists the conditions under which you’re borrowing, and the terms under which you agree to repay the loan.
    1. Stafford Loans Stafford loans are federal loans for students. Eligibility rules and loan amounts are identical under both the FFEL and Direct loan programs, but providers and repayment plans differ. For all Stafford loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2006, the interest rate is fixed at 6. 8 percent. However, you can be considered for a subsidized loan, depending on your financial need, in which the government will pay (subsidize) the interest on your loan while you’re in school, for the first six months after you leave school and if you qualify to have your payments deferred. You might be able to borrow loan funds beyond your subsidized loan amount even if you don’t have demonstrated financial need. In that case, you’ll receive an unsubsidized loan. Your school will subtract the total of your other financial aid from your cost of attendance to determine whether you are eligible for an unsubsidized loan. Unlike a subsidized loan, you are responsible for you’re the interest from the time the loan is disbursed until the time it is repaid in full. After you graduate, you will have a six month ‘grace-period’ before you must begin repayment. During this period of time, you’ll receive repayment information, and you’ll be notified of your first payment due date. You are responsible for beginning repayment on time, even if you don’t receive this information. You will receive more detailed information on your repayment options during entrance and exit counselling sessions provided by your school.
      • Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL)Funds from your FFEL will come from a bank, credit union or other lender that participates in the program. Schools that participate in the FFEL program, will usually have a list of preferred lenders. Student loan borrowers may choose a lender from that list, or choose a different lender they prefer. Your loan money must first be applied to pay for tuition and fees, room and board and other school charges. If money remains, you’ll receive the funds by cheque or in cash. Besides interests, you will pay a fee of up to 4 % of the loan, deducted proportionately from each loan disbursement. For a FFEL Stafford Loan, a portion of this fee goes to the federal government, and a portion goes to the guaranty agency (the organization that administers the FFEL Program in your state) to help reduce the cost of your loans.
      • Direct LoanUnder the direct loan program, the funds for your loan come directly from the federal government and you will need to repay your Direct Loan to the U.S. Department of Education’s Direct Loan Servicing Center. Like the FFEL loan, you will pay a fee of up to 4 % of the loan. For a direct Stafford Loan, the entire fee goes to the government to help reduce the cost of the loans.
    2. PLUS Loans (Parent Loans)Parents can borrow a PLUS Loan to help pay your education expenses if you are a dependent undergraduate student enrolled at least half time in an eligible program at an eligible school. PLUS Loans are available through the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program and the Direct Loan Program. Your parents can get either loan, but not both, for you during the same enrolment period. They must also have an acceptable credit history. For a Direct PLUS Loan, your parents must complete a Direct PLUS Loan application and promissory note, contained in a single form that you get from your school’s financial aid office. For a FFEL PLUS Loan, your parents must complete and submit a PLUS Loan application available from your school, lender, or your state guaranty agency. After the school completes its portion of the application, it must be sent to a lender for evaluation.
  10. What are the different kinds of scholarships? Scholarships are awarded on a broad-base of criteria, the most common being academic merit. Many scholarships carry conditions besides academic merit, such as financial need, affiliation with a group-, leadership, athletic talent, artistic or musical ability etc. Some scholarships are awarded by the college itself, often called MERIT AID. Other scholarships are awarded by outside sponsors. For some scholarships, you need to be nominated. For most of them, you apply directly to a sponsor. Because there are so many different types of scholarships, you should check directly with your financial aid office at your college.
  11. Can I apply for a grant, a loan and a scholarship at the same time? Yes. You can team up different types of financial aid or simply have one kind. Nevertheless, some types of financial aid are contingent on others. For example, you can only receive an Academic Competitive Grant or a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant if you have received a Pell Grant. While you cannot team up a FFEL loan with a direct loan, you may be eligible to receive a subsidized loan (in which the interest is paid by the government) and an unsubsidized loan (in which you are responsible for the interest) at the same time. You can also combine grants with loans and scholarships, so it never hurts to try to get as many different varieties of aid as possible!
  12. What is the Federal Work Study Program? The Federal Work-Study Program (FWS) is a campus-based program that provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, that allows them to earn money to help pay education expenses. The program encourages community service work and work related to the recipient’s course of study.
  13. How often should I apply for financial aid? You will need to apply for financial aid each year. Even if you did not qualify this year, you should reapply next year since financial circumstances can change. The number of family members in college, for example can have a big impact on your eligibility for financial aid. If you submitted a FAFSA during the previous year, you may be able to complete the shorter Renewal FAFSA form instead. The renewal FAFSA will be mailed to your home. The renewal FAFSA preprints most of your answers from the previous year’s FAFSA. Verify that the old responses are still accurate and provide corrections or new answers where appropriate. If you don’t receive a renewal FAFSA by February 15, fill out a new FAFSA form.
  14. How do I know whether I am eligible for financial aid? Don’t assume that you will not qualify for financial aid. Nearly all U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens enrolled at least half the time are now eligible for some form of financial aid. Even if you don’t qualify for a grant, free college info is still available, and you may still be eligible for other forms of financial assistance. Many families don’t apply for financial aid, because they believe that they earn too much money. However, you don’t need to be from a low-income family to receive financial aid. Some loans and scholarships are available regardless of need. Many factors are used to determine your eligibility for financial aid and there is no simple cut-off base on income. You can’t get aid unless you apply!!

The Experience of Financial Markets Regulation in the Southern African Region – Part Two –

The State of Financial Markets in the Southern African Region

Up to the end of 1994, there were 14 stock exchanges in the entire African continent. These were Cairo (Egypt), Casablanca (Morocco), Tunis (Tunisia) in North Africa; Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), Accra (Ghana), and Lagos (Nigeria) in West Africa and Nairobi (Kenya) in Eastern Africa. In the Southern African region, they were Windhoeck (Namibia), Gaborone (Botswana), Johannesburg (South Africa), Port Louis (Mauritius), Lusaka (Zambia), Harare (Zimbabwe) and Mbabane (Swaziland). In 2005, most of other countries in Southern Africa have developed their own stocks exchange markets. They are Maputo (Mozambique), Dar-Es-Salam (Tanzania) and Luanda (Angola).

With the exception of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, and at a different level, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange and the Namibia Stock Exchange, these markets are too small in comparison to developed markets in Europe and North America, and also to other emerging markets in Asia and Latin America. At the end of 1994 there were about 1150 listed companies in the Africa markets put together. The market capitalization of the listed companies amounted to $240 billion for South Africa and about $25 billion for other African countries.

In the countries under review, stock markets are particularly small in comparison with their economies – with the ratio of market capitalization to GDP averaging 17.3 per cent. The limited supply of securities in the markets and the prevailing buy and hold attitudes of most investors have also contributed to low trading volume and turnover ratio. Turnover is poor with less than 10 percent of market capitalization traded annually on most stock exchanges. The low capitalization, low trading volume and turnover would suggest the embryonic nature of most stock markets in the region.

We have gathered considerable information on the current state of financial markets in Africa in general, and due to a limited time frame, it was not possible to collate, analyze and harmonize them. The format of this article cannot allow to take into consideration all the data. From the latest information, it becomes clear that with the ongoing reforms within the financial sectors in the countries under investigation, a lot of progress has been achieved in terms of regulatory and institutional capacity building. We could expect more results with the promotion of more open investment regulations, allowing more financial flows in the region.

The Experience of Financial Markets Regulation in the Southern African Countries

The financial systems of Southern African countries are characterized by high ownership structure resulting in oligopolistic practices which create privileged access to credit for large companies but limited access to smaller and emerging companies. The regulatory framework must take into account all the specific characteristics of these systems, and at the same time keep the general approach inherent to every regulatory instrument.

Financial systems in Southern Africa are also noted for their marked variations. Some systems, such as those in Mozambique, Angola and Tanzania were for a long period, dominantly government-owned, consisting mostly of the central bank and very few commercial banks. Up to date, Angola has not developed a money and capital market, and the informal money markets are used extensively. Other systems had mixed ownership comprising central banks, public, domestic, private and foreign private financial institutions. These can be further sub-divided into those with rich varieties of institutions such as are found in South Africa, Mauritius and Zimbabwe, and others with limited varieties of institutions as are found in Malawi, Zambia, Swaziland, etc.

Regulatory authorities in most of these countries have, over the years, adopted the policy of financial sector intervention in the hope of promoting economic development. Interest rate controls, directed credit to priority sectors, and securing bank loans at below market interest rates to finance their activities, later turned out to undermine the financial system instead of promoting economic growth.

For example, low lending rates encouraged less productive investments and discouraged savers from holding domestic financial assets. Directed credits to priority sectors often resulted in deliberate defaults on the belief that no court action could be taken against the defaulters. In some cases, subsidized credit hardly ever reached their intended beneficiaries.

There was also tendency to concentrate formal financial institutions in urban areas thereby making it difficult to provide credit to people in the rural areas. In some countries, private sector borrowing was largely crowded-out by public sector borrowing. Small firms often had much difficulty in obtaining funds from formal financial institutions to finance businesses. Finally, the tendency of governments of the region to finance public sector deficits through money creation resulted not only in inflation but also in negative real interest rates on deposits. These factors had adverse consequences for the financial sector. First, savers found it unrewarding to invest in financial assets. Second, it generated capital flight among those unable or unwilling to invest in real assets thereby limiting financial resources that would have been made available for financial intermediation. Coupled with this was the declining inflow of resources to African countries since the 1980s.

A viable financial market can serve to make the financial system more competitive and efficient. Without equity markets, companies have to rely on internal finance through retained earnings. Large and well established enterprises, in particular the local branches of multinationals, are in a privileged position because they can make investments from retained earnings and bank borrowing while new indigenous companies do not have easy access to finance. Without being subjected to the scrutiny of the marketplace, big firms get bigger.

The availability of reliable information would help investors to make comparisons of the performance and long term prospects of companies; corporations to make better investments and strategic decisions; and provide better statistics for economic policy makers. Although efficient equity markets force corporations to compete on an equal basis for the funds of investors, they can be blamed for favouring large firms, suffer from high volatility, and focus on short term financial return rather than long-term economic return.

In various countries where domestic bond markets exist, these are generally dominated by government treasury funding which crowds out the private sector needs for fixed interest rate funding. With minor exceptions, the international fixed rate bond markets have been closed to African corporations. Thus the development of an active market for equities could provide an alternative to the banking system.

The development of financial markets could help to strengthen corporate capital structure and efficient and competitive financial system. The capital structure of firms in Southern African countries where there are no viable equity markets are generally characterized by heavy reliance on internal finance and bank borrowings which tend to raise the debt/equity ratios. The undercapitalization of firms with high debt/equity ratios tends to lower the viability and solvency of both the corporate sector and the banking system especially during economic downturn.

Case studies in selected countries of Southern Africa

In all countries under study, both the historical background, the level of financial system development and the importance of financial markets structure and operations have considerably affected the nature of the regulatory framework. However, there are few countries whose objectives of financial market liberalization were the basis for the development of a modern regulatory system. Mauritius and Botswana are examples which, together with South Africa and Zimbabwe, have developed some of the most developed and diversified financial markets systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. There is no doubt that economic and financial conditions of the economies of individual Southern African countries have played significant roles in shaping their financial market’s regulatory framework.

1. Financial Markets in Botswana

An informal stock market was established in 1989, managed and operated by a private stockbroking firm (Stockbrokers Botswana limited). In 1995, a formal stock exchange was established under the Botswana Stock Exchange Act. The BSE performed remarkably well in terms of the level of capitalization, the value of the shares and the returns to the shares. The BSE contributed to the promotion of Botswana as a destination for international investment.

In 2004, the number of domestic companies listed was 18 while foreign companies listed were 7, and two in the venture capital market. The Bank of Botswana introduced its own paper, BoBCs, since 1991, for liquidity management purposes, and there is a growing secondary market for the instrument. In 1999, the Central Bank introduced an other instruments, the Repos (Re-purchase Agreements) and the National Saving Certificates with the objective to develop local money market and to encouraging savings. In 1998, the International financial Services Centre (IFSC) was established to promote world quality financial services.

2. Financial Markets in Mauritius

The Government of Mauritius has decided as a priority, to modernize and upgrading the financial system of Mauritius and recently took measures to strengthen the financial sector and to further integrate it with both the domestic economy and the global financial market.
Thanks to a well developed network of commercial domestic banks, offshore banks, non financial institutions and financial institutions, the financial system is one of the most vibrant in the Southern African region.

The Stock Exchange of Mauritius (SEM) started its operations in 1989, with only five listed companies. In 2004, more than 44 companies were listed, and the range of activities has expanded, state-of-art technology is being used in the dealings.

In September 2001, the settlement cycle on the SEM was reduced from five to three days, to be in line with major international stock markets. The short settlement cycle has since helped to improve liquidity and turnover on the market as investors are able to sell their securities three business days after buying the, thus reducing risks and bringing better integration to global markets through strict adherence to international standards.

3. Financial Markets in Mozambique

In 1978, all private banks operating in Mozambique were nationalized and merged into two state owned institutions, the Banco de Moçambique (Central Bank) and the Banco Popular de Desenvolvimento (BPD). After the adoption of a new economic orientation in 1992, the Government implemented an economic reform programme including the financial sector reform. Foreign banks were allowed to invest in Mozambique and the regulatory and commercial activities of the Central Bank BDM were separated. Banco de Moçambique assumed the Central Bank function while Banco Comercial de Moçambique BCM led the commercial banking sector.

The financial sector liberalisation policy allowed new institutions. Apart from the already operating Standard Bank, new banks licensed since 1992 or resulting from liquidation of existing institutions include the Banco Internacional de Moçambique, the Banco Comercial de investimentos, Banco de Fomento, Banco Austral, African Banking Corporation ABC, BMI, UCB, ICB, Novo Banco, etc. There are also investment banks, leasing companies and credit cooperatives. This increased number of financial and non financial institutions resulted in the development of an active financial sector.

In October 1999, the stock market of Mozambique (Bolsa de Valores de Moçambique BVM) was inaugurated. Its regulatory agency is the Central Bank BDM and its operations are still limited. With the technical support of the Johannesburg Securities Exchange JSE and the Lisbon Stock Exchange, plans are underway to develop an international financial services centre, including a state-of-the art information technology system.

4. Financial Markets in Namibia

The Namibian Stock exchange NSX is governed by the Stock Exchange Control Act of 1985. Amendments to the Act have been recently adopted in order to bring the national laws in line with international standards.

The NSX was established in October 1992 and is the most technically advanced bourses in Africa, and also one of few self regulated financial markets in Southern Africa. The Namibian Stock exchange Association, a self regulatory, non profit organization, is the custodian of the license to operate the NSX. It approves listing applications, licenses stockbrokers and operates the trading, clearing and settlement of the exchange. Since 1998, the NSX has used the most technically advanced management tools available on the continent, which enable better surveillance and detailed client protection.

5. Financial Markets in South Africa

The South African Financial Markets system is the most sophisticated and complex with the vibrant Johannesburg Securities Exchange (JSE), the Bond Exchange of South Africa (BESA) and the and the South Africa Futures Exchange (SAFEX).

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange JSE was established in November 1887. Currently, it is governed by the Stock Exchanges Control Act of 1985 [amended in 1998 and 2001]. The JSE is the largest stock exchange in Africa and has a market capitalization of more than 10 times that of all the other African markets combined. The JSE provides technical support and capacity building, skills and information to the following exchanges in the region: Namibia, Mozambique, Mauritius, Tanzania and others in Africa (Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt, Uganda and Kenya). Since 1999, the JSE harmonized its listing requirements with the stock markets of Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The BESA was licensed in may 1996 under the Financial Markets Control Act of 1989 [amended in 1998], and the SAFEX was established in 2001 as a Financial Derivatives Market and agricultural Products division of the JSE.

In June 1996, the JSE introduced the fully automatic electronic trading system known as Johannesburg Equities Trading (JET) and since May 2002, is using the Stock Exchange Trading System (SETS).

6. Financial Markets in Swaziland

The Swaziland Stock Market (SSX) was established in 1990 to promote local investment opportunities. In 2002, five companies were listed. The SSX has developed new listing requirements in line with new international regulatory standards. A new security Bill has been approved in 2002, and should be in force by now. It will allow the licensing and regulation of all securities markets, operations and participants.

7. Financial Markets in Tanzania

The Dar-Es-Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) was incorporated in September 1996 under the Capital Markets and Securities Act of 1994. Its operations however did not start until April 1998 with the listing of the first company. In October 2002, foreign companies were allowed to operate on the DSE. Its regulatory agency is the Capital markets and securities Authority (CMSA). Plans are underway to facilitate the securing of increased financial resources from global markets.

8. Financial Markets in Zambia

The Lusaka Stock Exchange (LuSE) was created in February 1994 under the 1993 securities Act. It is controlled by the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC). Its operations were boosted by the successful issue of the Zambian Breweries, which raised up to US $ 8.5 million to refinance a loan secured for the acquisition of the Northern Breweries in 1998. Most of the listings were the result of the country’s privatization program.

A Commodity Exchange, the Agricultural Credit Exchange was also established in 1994, as an initiative of the Zambia National Farmers’ Union, after the liberalization of the prices of agricultural commodities. The Exchange provides a centralized trading facility for buyers and sellers of commodities and inputs. It provides also updated prices and some market information for both local and international markets.

9. Financial Markets in Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange ZSE, is one of the oldest and most vibrant stock exchanges in Africa. It was established in 1890, but had sporadic trading until 1946. In 2002, it had 76 listed companies. The ZSE operates under the Stock exchanges act, which is being amended to take into consideration new technological requirements and to align its contents with international standards (improve the security of share trading, transparency, central depository system, etc.).

The ZSE is open to foreign investors, who can purchase up to 40 percent of the equity of listed company, a single investor can purchase a maximum of 10 percent of the shares on offer. Foreign investors can invest on the local money market up to a maximum of 25 percent per primary issue of government bonds and stocks, and a single investor can acquire a maximum of 5 percent. Foreign investors are however not allowed to purchase from the secondary market. These investments qualify for 100 percent dividend and interest remittance.

Financial Markets Regulation in Southern Africa: which way ahead ?

The major issue in financial market regulation lies in the fact that the legal and institutional framework of most countries is still inadequate to support modern financial processes. Examples of such inadequacy include outdated legal systems leading to poor enforcement of laws. The following challenges are very interesting for further research opportunities.

A cohesive and comprehensive legal framework is required under the proactive approach in order to use the contracts that clearly define the rights and obligations of all intervening operators. Such a framework should encourage discipline and timely enforcement of contracts, fostering responsibility and prudent behavior on both sides of the financial transactions. Prudent and efficient financial intermediation cannot operate without reliable information on borrowers, and some legislation on accounting and auditing standards, which also ensures honesty on the part of financial institutions, Similarly, for a country’s financial markets to develop and operate efficiently, legislation should fully incorporate rules of trading, intermediation, information disclosure, take-overs and mergers.

Because of the role of financial institutions and markets in the development of a sound financial system, additional legislation is normally needed for their operations to complement company law. These are prudential regulations, especially for banks and similar financial institutions that hold an important part of the money supply, create money and intermediate between savings and investment. Company law is an example of the kind of legislation needed. It not only governs the operations of business enterprises but also protects the interests of company stakeholders. Thus, public disclosure of information on the company’s activities should be made mandatory on company management in the appropriate section of the Companies Act. Such information, especially that relating to finance and accounting, should also be statutorily required to be subsequently verified and attested to by auditors.

Prudential regulations cover such issues as criteria for entry (listings), capital adequacy standard, asset diversification, limits on loans to individuals, permissible range of activities, asset classification and provisioning, portfolio concentration and enforcement powers, special accounting, auditing and disclosure standards adapted to the needs of the banks to ensure timely availability of accurate financial information and transparency. The objective is to enhance the safety and soundness of the financial system.

There is real need for an important legislation relating to financial markets which require not only favorable policies but also legal and institutional infrastructure to support their operations, prevent abuses and protect investors. Investors’ confidence is critical to the development of the markets. Brokers, underwriters, and other intermediaries who operate in these markets therefore have to follow laid down professional codes of conduct embodied in the legislation applicable to such institutions as finance and insurance companies, mutual funds and pension funds.

An other important issue is the independence of regulatory authority, their number and the option to establish self-regulatory agency. All these aspects should take into account the objectives and principles defined by the government, and also the specific development needs in the financial system.

A major challenge concerning the Financial Markets in the Southern African region is the harmonization of the national financial regulation and the compliance with international requirements, including the SADC criteria and the international standards set by international organizations such as the International Organization of securities Commissions (IOSCO), the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC), the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) and the obligations resulting from the WTO Agreement on financial Services (GATS). These key international instruments are starting to be enforced and individual countries have to keep updating their financial markets regulations and upgrade the technical skills of their staff in charge of regulatory and supervisory operations.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

-Faure, A.P. An overview of the South African Financial System, in the Securities Markets, Johanesbourg, Securities Research, No.3, 1987
-Dougall, H.E. [1970], Capital Markets and Institutions, Second Edition, New Jersey, Prentice Hall ;
-Furness, E.L. [1972] An introduction to Financial Economics, Heinenmann, London.
-Smith, P.F. [1971], Economics of Financial Institutions and Markets, Illinois, Irwin;
-Peltier, F. [1997] Marchés Financiers et Droit Commun, Banque Editeur, Paris ;
-Kolb W. R, and Rodriguez J .R. [1996], Financial Institutions and Markets, 2nd Edition, Blackwell Publishers ;
-Mattout, J. P. [1996] Droit Bancaire International, Banque Editeur, 2e Edition, Paris;
-Schmidt R H and Wrinkler A. [1999], Building Financial Institutions in Developing countries, Working Paper Series, Finance and Development no. 45, JW Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main ;
-Falkena H. Bamber R. Llewellyn D. and Store T. [2001], Financial Regulation in South Africa, SA Financial Sector Forum, 2nd Edition, Rivonia ;
-Mishkin, F. S. [2004] , The Economics of Money, Banking and financial Markets, Seventh Edition, Addison-Wesley, Boston, MA
-Fanelli`J.M. and Medhora R. [1998] , Financial Reform in Developing Countries, IDRC Mac Millan Press Ltd, Hampshire ;
-Banco de Mozambique [2005] , Annual Report, May 2005.
-SADC [2004], The official SADC Trade, Industry and Investment Review, 8th Edition, SADC Secretariat, Gaborone ;

Financial Reporting & Auditing in Singapore

The Accounting Profession of Singapore

The Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (ICPAS) is the national body representing the accounting profession in Singapore. It maintains a register of qualified accountants comprising mainly local graduates. Membership is open to members of the Institutes of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales, Australia, Scotland, Ireland and a number of other accounting bodies. Generally, prior to being admitted as a full member, they must attend a week-long pre-admission course. Members are designated as certified public accountants (CPA).

The Public Accountants Board, whose council members are appointed by the Ministry of Finance, licenses and registers accountants who wish to practise. It also handles practice monitoring, disciplinary matters and regulations on professional conduct.

Accounting Records in Singapore

All companies incorporated under the Companies Act are required to maintain books of accounts that sufficiently explain the transactions and financial position of the company.

The books may be kept either at the company’s registered office or at another place the directors think fit. If the books are maintained outside Singapore, sufficient records must be maintained in Singapore to facilitate the preparation and/or audit of financial statements that reflect accurately the company’s financial position.

Sources of Accounting Principles

Financial Periods Commencing before 1 January 2003 The principal source of accounting principles in Singapore, namely Statements of Accounting Standards (SAS) and Interpretation of Statements of Accounting Standards (INT), are issued by ICPAS. These standards are essentially International Accounting Standards (IAS) modified for certain transitional provisions. They provide guidelines on the accounting measurements and disclosure requirements. Businesses may depart from such standards if the standards conflict with disclosure exemptions granted by law. Otherwise, ICPAS may take disciplinary action against any of its members who are in violation of the standards.

Rules on accounting measurements are generally established by SAS and INT. Disclosure requirements are governed by SAS, INT and the Companies Act.

ICPAS is a member of the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC). Compliance with IASC standards are not mandatory, but the institute supports the IASC objectives of formulating and publishing standards for observance during presentation of audited financial statements and promoting worldwide acceptance of such standards.

Financial Periods Commencing on or after 1 January 2003 With the implementation of section 37 of the Companies (Amendment) Act 2002, SAS issued by ICPAS will not be used with effect from annual financial periods commencing on or after 1 January 2003. Instead, Singapore Financial Reporting Standards (FRS), issued by the new accounting standards-setting body, the Council on Corporate Disclosure and Governance (CCDG), are now effective. FRS are essentially adopted from International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The previous SAS were adopted from the same set of IFRS (formerly referred to as IAS) but with modification to certain transitional provisions. Consequently, there are differences between FRS and SAS.

Interpretations of Standards are authoritative guidance on the application of the relevant standards. CCDG adopted all international interpretations as Interpretations of FRS (INT FRS) with effect from financial periods beginning on or after 1 January 2003.

Compliance with FRS is a statutory requirement whereby any non-compliance amounts to a breach of the Companies Act by the directors.

Financial Reporting in Singapore

The Companies Act requires that an audited set of financial statements, made up to not more than six months before every Annual General Meeting, is to be presented to the shareholders at the meeting. Generally if a company incorporated in Singapore has one or more subsidiaries, it must prepare consolidated financial statements unless it meets certain criteria as provided for in FRS 27 Consolidated and Separate Financial Statements. Currently, financial statements under the Companies Act consist of the balance sheet, income statement together with explanatory notes. With the Companies (Accounting Standards) Regulations 2002 coming into operation for financial periods on or after 1 January 2003, a complete set of financial statements will comprise the balance sheet, income statement, statement of changes in equity, cash flow statement and explanatory notes.

The financial statements must be accompanied by the directors’ and auditors’ reports and by a statement from the directors declaring that the financial statements show a true and fair view and that it is reasonable to believe that the company can reasonably pay its debts as they become due.

Companies which meet specific provisions in the Companies Act may be exempt from having their accounts audited but nevertheless must prepare financial statements that comply with the Companies Act.

Annual Requirements for Companies in Singapore

The Companies Act requires every company, except for those exempted in accordance with the provisions in the Act, to appoint one or more auditors qualified for appointment under the Accountants Act to report on the company’s financial statements. The auditors are to ascertain whether proper books of accounts have been kept and whether the financial statements agree with the company’s records. They will then report on the trueness and fairness of the financial statements to the shareholders at the Annual General Meeting.

Audit Exemption Starting with the financial year beginning on or after 15 May 2003, the following companies are no longer required to have their accounts audited. However, they are still required to prepare accounts (and consolidated accounts where applicable) that comply with FRS.

o Small exempt private companies An exempt private company with revenue in a financial year below S$5m is exempted from appointing auditors and from audit requirements. Revenue is defined according to the statutory accounting standards, i.e. the FRS.

o Dormant companies A dormant company is exempted from appointing auditors and from the audit requirements if it has been dormant either (a) from the time of its formation or (b) since the end of the previous financial year. A company is considered dormant during a period in which no accounting transaction occurs, and the company ceases to be dormant on the occurrence of such a transaction. For this purpose, transactions arising from the following are disregarded:

  • Taking of shares in the company by a subscriber to the memorandum
  • Appointment of company secretary
  • Appointment of auditor
  • Maintenance of a registered office
  • Keeping of registers and books
  • Fees, fines or default penalties paid to the Registrar of Companies

Free Credit Report – What’s the Big Deal With Watching My Credit?

Sometimes it’s tricky getting your hands on your credit report. By law, you are entitled to one free report per year from each reporting agency. One time per year is not sufficient to accurately monitor your credit if you plan on buying a car, buying a home or even getting a new cell phone. Even some potential employers use an applicants credit report in their decision whether or not to hire the individual. In this internet age, it has become a lot easier to order a credit report from trusted companies on the web and it’s a great way to keep a close eye on your credit report for identity theft too.

Here is a short list of good reasons why someone should consider signing up with a monitoring service:

NO MORE SURPRISES
Instead of guessing what is on your credit report, you will get to see it all, the good, the bad and the ugly. It is nice to know where you stand so you can work on correcting any errors and taking care of anything you may not have been aware of (like that 5-year-old cell phone bill you thought you paid).

LAND THAT NEW JOB
A credit report says a lot about a person and that is why employers have begun to use them as decision-making tools. If you are aware of everything on yours, you can better prepare for interviews.

BETTER CREDIT = MONEY SAVED
With the current economic climate excellent credit is needed to get credit cards and loans for vehicles. By working to contact creditors and getting issues resolved, you will enjoy an increased score and removal of undesirable records and also enjoy better interest rates which equals money saved.

STOP THIEF!!! IDENTITY THIEF THAT IS
With the rising popularity of identity theft, watching your credit report closely may save you from costly hassles. While it is possible to stop, catch and prosecute criminals responsible for this, the time and money out-of-pocket from the victim can really add up. Catching mysterious inquiries or new accounts before they grow into a long list is the right way to protect one’s identity.