The purpose of the newly created position was for the company to identify and better understand the needs of issuers as an important stakeholder to the company.
According to Leigh Bevis, Head of Stakeholder Relations at Strate, over 65 one-on-one relationship meetings have taken place with both equities and bonds issuers since the appointment of the Issuer Relationship Manager at the beginning of February 2013.
The meetings have provided the opportunity to address concerns as well as provide feedback regarding the steps that Strate is taking to improve communication with issuers. Most of the relationship meetings have been positive, where issuers have drawn attention to the risks that have been mitigated following the introduction of Strate over 15 years ago, Bevis explains.
Issuers have recalled the true value that Strate has provided to the market. Before Strate, there was an inefficient and time- consuming administrative process to clear and settle paper share certificates, and those companies who had to issue the certificates to their shareholders had to worry over the theft or loss of certificates, keeping their share registers up-to-date so they could pay dividends to the rightful owners of the shares – which often wasn’t the case, resulting in market claims and further administrative burdens – and not to mention the insurance required as a result.”
Almost two decades ago, South Africa was rated one of the worst financial markets because of some of these complexities and it was unattractive to investors.
Today, it owns innovative technologies and operates within a realm of soundproof policies, underpinning a stable financial market that is well regulated and attractive to investors. I believe South Africa’s financial market development rank of 3rd in the World Economic Forum’s The Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013 would be far lower, if it wasn’t for the country’s national assets, its financial market infrastructures, such as the stock exchange, the reserve bank and its central securities depository.”
It has also become evident that there is a significant need to educate issuers on Strate and its role in the financial markets. A number of educational sessions have taken place in Johannesburg and Cape Town covering topics that range from Corporate Actions to the Financial Markets Act and shareholder registers. Further workshops have been scheduled for the remainder of the year.
Future plans for Strate Ltd.
Over the next few months, Strate will implement a number of changes within the company that will further involve issuers. An Issuer Market Forum has been initiated with the first one taking place in June and it will be chaired by the CEO, allowing for meaningful discussion on market related developments affecting issuers.
In addition, Strate will also publish an issuer-specific newsletter during mid-2013 as another communication and education channel.
Our client meetings will continue to take place and we encourage the market to take part in our client satisfaction surveys,” says Bevis. She adds that these surveys enable Strate to understand its clients’ needs and perceptions, assisting Strate to enhance its service levels and improve stakeholder centricity. She adds that progress from the relationship meetings can also be seen in the increased number of respondents to the customer satisfaction survey, which was recently conducted in April.
The engagement and communication with issuers to understand their needs has given Strate insight into its strengths and areas in need of improvement. “Feedback has been extremely valuable and will assist us with improving our services and the value we add to issuers and to build sustainable and meaningful relationships going forward.”