Address by Gayle Daniel-Worrell, Director MFATT and UTC VP Marketing and International Business at the launch of the Expanded Certificate for Financial Advisor Programme
‘Strengthening the Environment for Investor Confidence’
Deputy Governor of the CBTT, Ms. Joan John,
Deputy Inspector of Financial Institutions, Ms Ho Sing;
Representative of Securities & Exchange Commission, Arlene Stephens
President of the Institute of Banking and Finance
President of the Securities Dealers Association,
Specially invited guests,
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
The mutual fund industry and the securities industry have emerged as specialized disciplines within the financial sector, while some skill sets are common across the industry unique skills are required as each sub set of the industry evolves. Significant advances have taken place in the industry in terms of financial instruments, profile of investors and issuers, processes, regulatory framework and technology deployment. There was therefore, a recognized need for educational courses at various levels to meet the needs of the mutual fund and securities industry and a need to build and nurture new age securities markets professionals.
The industry also offers great opportunity for creating employment. With the aim to create a forum for interaction between the securities industry and academia on the subject of human resource development in the industry, The Mutual Fund association of Trinidad and Tobago (MFATT) and the Security Dealers Association of Trinidad and Tobago, together with the Institute for Banking and Finance, collaborated to expand the existing Certificate for Financial Advisors programme to include separate and distinct modules for specialization in Mutual Funds and Securities Dealing.
With this programme we are seeking to promote securities markets education, through:
* Close interface with policy makers and regulators
* Continuous knowledge creation and dissemination
* Enabling stakeholders to enhance knowledge, skill and awareness and
* Serving as a role model for other institutions to enhance the quality of interaction in the financial services sector between the service provider and the investor.
We professionals in the industry as well as investors everywhere, have been made sharply, and in some cases, painfully aware, that there is no longer a time to be less than professional in the approach to providing financial information to clients. Both service providers and investors have to be doubly sure about information given and that received. We also have to be certain that financial institutions and the environment for investing have the best professional capability possible.
The continued existence of major financial institutions and the general state of economies in the developing and industrial worlds demand that we bring new and higher standards to the business we are involved in.
The development of educational content to meet those demands is the reason we are here this morning to launch this expanded certification programme for Financial advisors. It is one of the basic objectives of MFATT to enhance the expertise of the professionals dispensing financial information to customers.
In addition to the training programme, MFATT also uses every opportunity to bring our members up to date with the developments in the industry through meetings, the sharing of information and participation international conferences and seminars. In so doing we also allow our professionals in the industry to interact with each other and on occasion with professionals from outside our financial environment.
This interaction is vital because if we were not previously aware of it we understand now that financial developments in Europe, North America, Asia and Latin America impact very directly on us right here in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean.
I am sure that the during the certificate training, the young professionals will also be exposed to the structures and developments in international financial markets and their links to our own financial environment.
With regard to the details of the certification programme, it will give formal training and eventual certification to those who will be responsible for selling mutual funds and other investment and financial products. And it should be noted that increasingly, new investment products are being brought to the market. In some instances, these products are completely new to local investors. It is therefore an essential element of the training programme, that participants acquire the skills set to provide financial guidance to customers on new products and services and assist clients in achieving their financial goals. This programme is recognized by the local mutual fund and securities sector. It fully satisfies the requirements and standards which are necessary for unsupervised practice.
It follows that a more knowledgeable workforce within this industry will improve the quality of financial guidance and education of the public. In turn this will enhance the confidence of investors in the financial services sector.
And while the certification programme is not currently a mandatory requirement for those in the industry and those seeking to work in the industry, we have sought the sanction of the Security Exchange Commission. With the SEC anxious to raise standards in the industry and have investors gain the benefit of professionally trained personnel; it is almost certain that in the future certification in the programme will be required for all persons who provide financial information to customers.
That will mean that consumers of investment services will have professionally qualified agents to guide them. But we all know that technical knowledge is not all, participants in the programme will also be exposed to ethical standards of behavior and other considerations which will have to characterize their professional duties and responsibilities to their clients.
This certification programme is the first of its kind to be accredited by the TT accreditation council. This has the potential to give the investment community and the national population an assurance of quality and standards.
Initial credit for envisaging a programme to train professionals for the industry must go to a former commissioner of the SEC. He provoked the question to the industry. As a group of companies and individuals understanding of the need for professionalism and standards to attract investors, we in MFATT took on the challenge. But of course we could not achieve the goal by ourselves. We sought a partnership with the Institute of Banking and Finance and Security dealers association. All of this effort was geared towards bringing professional standards to the industry to generate greater investor confidence.
We see this as a critical step towards revitalizing consumer confidence for persons who may have become disillusioned by inaccurate and or misleading financial information from poorly trained practitioners.
Eventually with the spread of training through the certificate programme, we expect that standardized practices will develop in the industry. But let me assure you that while all of the companies in MFATT, IBAF and SDATT cooperate to develop and provide professional training and certification for our front line personell, individual companies will continue to offer customized services as we compete one against the other for investment funds and new customers. Competition as we all know benefits the investor.
MFATT, the Mutual Fund Association of Trinidad and Tobago. It is an association of companies which provide mutual funds products to the public. With total industry assets of over $35 billion, the companies in MFATT represent a significant capital base in the economy.
By any consideration the membership of MFATT, comprising
the Trinidad & Tobago Unit Trust Corporation,
RBTT Asset Management,
First Citizens Asset Management,
Republic Bank Limited,
Guardian Asset Management;
Ansa Merchant Bank,
And AIC Financial Group,
constitute a grouping of the most formidable financial institutions in the market.
Recognizing a need for international connections, MFATT is a member of the International Investmet Funds Association in Canada and an affiliate of the Investment Company Institute in Washington DC. Together our institutions represent companies globally which together manage over US$10 trillion dollars in assets.
As a representative group of the mutual funds practitioners; one of our objectives is to develop the growth in mutual funds investment in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean. Our intention therefore is to spread information and so develop capacity.
In achieving this objective, we are seeking to increase the profile of T&T as a mutual funds centre in the Caribbean. So that, as in the case of steelband and calypso, the international community must know that Trinidad and Tobago is host to the mutual funds industry in the region.
As a group MFATT has been working at providing the industry with, policy positions, performance presentation standards, industry statistics, research, representation and now education, training and certification.
One very vital function of MFATT is to serve as a point of contact for comment and feedback from the general public on the Industry.
All that is left for me to do is to wish the future participants in this first professional certification programme, all the very best. But before I do that I must acknowledge the efforts of Aklima Beekham Maharaj the manager of International Business at the Unit Trust corporation, whose drive, tenacity, supurb organization and patience helped to sheppard this project through to its successful conclusion. It took three years from April 2009 to April 2011, but without Mrs. Maharaj’s efforts we would not be standing here today ready to launch the expanded CERT FA programme.
To the future participants in this programme, you must also know that much will be expected of you. You have the responsibility not merely to give the best possible advice to clients, but also to expand the community of qualified professional financial service providers and strengthen the environment for investor confidence. By so doing you will be making a contribution to the personal wealth, development and financial well-being of our national community.