By Neil Armstrong
PRIDE Contributing Writer
The Jamaica Stock Exchange took its international roadshow and knowledge exchange visit to Toronto last week – the third in its stop after London and New York – where it met with Jamaicans in the diaspora and potential Canadian investors in the island.
Buoyed by the designation by Bloomberg of being the “Number One Stock Exchange in the World for 2015,” the major objectives of the visit – May 20-27 — were to share knowledge about the opportunities available in Jamaica, build network and partnerships, and participate in knowledge transfer activities.
The JSE held two town hall meetings, one at Perth Seventh Day Adventist Church, the other at the Jamaican Canadian Association to discuss the opportunities for partnership and growth through the Jamaica Stock Exchange and financial knowledge being the key to wealth creation.
Marlene Street Forrest, general manager of Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) says so often people think about what to send back to Jamaica but she thinks that time has passed and “we need now to tell you about the opportunities that are available for you in Jamaica.”
She was speaking to a corporate gathering at the Park Hyatt Toronto hotel in Yorkville on May 25.
“One of the opportunities is in terms of investing in the Jamaican Market, the Jamaica Stock Exchange and the companies that are on the exchange.”
She said the JSE is regulated by the Financial Services Commission and there is an independent regulatory arm of the stock exchange within the stock exchange itself.
“The Jamaica Stock Exchange took the decision a couple of years ago, 2008, to de-mutualize and what that means is that what we’ve tried to do is ensure that there is no conflict of interest between our member dealers and the companies that are listed or even the public and so we separated the share ownership of the exchange from that of trading on the exchange. And we’re also listed on our own exchange and the best performing company for 2015 was the Jamaica Stock Exchange and that’s the company, I’m not talking about the exchange itself.”
Street Forrest said the JSE was the best performing company on the market in terms of the Main Market.
She said the company operates four different markets: the Main Market, the Junior Market, a US-denominated Market and the Bond Market.
“In 2015, we, in terms of just the performance on the Main Market, we were up over, I think, 97 per cent and on the Junior Market the performance was up over 160 per cent. And this is no fluke because the underlying reason for that is how the companies perform on the market and most of our companies performed well in 2015. Obviously, there is the dip in oil price, etc. that aided the companies but we find that one of the other reasons is because of corporate governance. Companies have performed well as it relate to observing good corporate governance which converts also in terms of the performance of companies on the market.”
She is encouraging people to look at those companies – companies that they are already doing business with or they are buying their products on a daily basis – such as Scotiabank, NCB on the main market, Kingston Wharves on the junior market, Lasco, Jamaica Cheese, Dolphin Cove and Knutsford Express.
“So these are companies that you are familiar with and we’re saying while you buy their products you can also invest in them in order to create wealth. But this is not the only reason we’re talking about an investment and wealth creation. We feel that there are opportunities too for companies to list on the Jamaica Stock Exchange.”
She said many business people here might have a company and might want to list on the JSE or raise funds in that market and that possibility is there as well.
Street Forrest said companies that are already listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange can be cross-listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange.
“And you ask why. Why would you want to do that? Many of the times you want to look at having a presence in a local market which could drive your say in that market so these are some of the things that we want to tell you about.”
She said two years ago the JSE added the status of a designated exchange for Canada, which means stocks that are on its Main Market can be purchased and put into saving plans of investors here.
“The benefits that accrue for stocks that are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange or any of the other recognized exchanges in Canada will be afforded that same benefit so there is also opportunity in terms of looking at our market.”
The general manager also highlighted the JSE’s online trading platform noting that when the company attended the Diaspora Conference, persons said they would look at the market if there is easy access.
“We have provided the access just for you. We have gone out and we have developed the online trading platform with you in mind. So it is now for you to use it. What it means is therefore that after you have selected a broker and you have now had an understanding with that broker you can now trade by yourself stocks through the online trading platform by yourself so you don’t have to constantly call the broker. Obviously, you must fund that account to allow for, especially, purchasing of securities but there is a direct way in which you can stay within Canada and access the market.”
Street Forrest said that over the last seven years the market has performed over 88 per cent.
She noted that some persons have said there is a devaluation in the dollar – the Canadian vis-à-vis the Jamaican dollar — but when one looks at the depreciation there it is far less, under 10 per cent, compared to the value or the appreciation that could be gained if someone had invested in securities that are listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange.
“The benefits are there. They are profound. You need to just study the market and understand what is happening,” she said.
The JSE has also developed an app which Street Forrest said was done “because we understand that while we are an exchange in Jamaica, that’s just only what we are an exchange in Jamaica, but we don’t consider ourselves a Jamaican exchange. It is available for everyone who desire wealth creation in terms of investment or expanding and growing their businesses, whether they’re in Canada, United States or anywhere.”
She said there are opportunities that are available specifically for small and medium size companies.
The JSE will be launching soon the Jamaica Depository Receipt that enables someone to buy stocks, whether these stocks are in Canada, US or the UK, and allows an easy access to the purchasing of stocks.
“And all the other products that are afforded in your market we are in the process of developing so that you can have access to them in our market as well,” Street Forrest said.
Robin Levy, deputy general manager of the Jamaica Stock Exchange, described the trip as being excellent, noting that the team spent Tuesday at the Toronto Stock Exchange which was instrumental in the founding of the JSE.
He said 47 years ago, the TSE provided the JSE with some guidance and in fact when the JSE started its Junior Exchange it “patterned some of it off the venture market that Toronto has.”
Levy said the JSE also has very good relationships with its sister exchanges in the Caribbean, namely the Barbados and Trinidad stock exchanges.
They formed a Caribbean Exchange Network in the hope of having a larger footprint bringing Caribbean exchanges together to be more attractive for foreign investors.
Levy said over the last eight or nine years, the JSE has transformed itself and is not only about trading but offers a wider variety of services to companies, even companies that are not listed on the exchange.
He said the idea is to build Jamaica’s economy and therefore there are small and medium size companies which need help and the JSE has developed services to assist them.
The JSE is closely tied to the Jamaica Central Securities Depository for which Levy is the general manager.
The corporate event was hosted by Lloyd Wilks, Jamaica’s consul general at Toronto, who emphasized the importance of ensuring that there is access to information about various opportunities existing in Jamaica.