Smartvest funds under management up 200%

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SMARTVEST Wealth Managers, formerly AfrAsia Capital Management (ACM), says funds under its management have grown 200% to US$25 million in the past four years and expects to pay its first dividend by year end.

By Melody Chikono

At its peak, the financial services company used to manage US$58 million before falling to new lows, but it is targeting US$100 million by 2020.

The asset management firm, established in 1995, was wholly-owned by the defunct ABZL, but is now totally divorced from the failed bank after the scheme of arrangement.

Smartvest portfolio manager Michael Mautsahuku told businessdigest on the sidelines of the Institute of Charted Secretaries and Administrators (ICSAZ) conference in Victoria Falls last week that the firm had managed to garner confidence in the market buoyed by pension and individual business.

“When the bank went under, our assets under management went down to US$5,6 million but now we are sitting at US$25 million. We are attracting new pension business as well as private individuals.

“Smartvest is driven by a credible board led by former Reserve Bank governor Leonard Tsumba. Its major shareholder is a former Reserve Bank of Zambia governor and multiracial board members as well as experienced people. We have managed to see an increase in confidence. The other issue that came also after the bank closed is that of custodianship. There is no chance that the manager will misappropriate funds or dip into them; it has increased market confidence,” he said.

Mautsahuku said the future was bright for the asset manager. He added that the firm only took over unit trusts from the bank and private clients and now has on board two audit firms for its operations.

“In terms of strategy, for end of 2018 or early 2019, we will be starting to pay dividends to our shareholders. We are looking at alternative investments such as property and fixed income. We intend to maintain our number one spot that we have always had since dollarisation,” he said.

Meanwhile, he said the country’s asset management companies are embracing block chain technology, which he said will drastically reduce corruption which remains prevalent in the system.

While the current system enables reporting of doctored numbers, he said block chain would increase integrity as everyone will see the information. However, he said it would depend on the integrity of the inputter.

“Industry should brace up for block chain technology. It is a system that is used to record transactions. It’s not only going to affect government but everyone. Once a transaction is recorded, it cannot be reversed and becomes permanent and can’t be tempered with,” he said.

“It will increase integrity and drastically reduce corruption. Shareholders and directors will be able to access the information.”

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