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Friday, 31 July 2015

Africa 2020 presents exciting opportunities for asset managers - PwC report

New research from PwC projects that traditional assets under management (AuM) in 12 markets across Africa will rise to around $1,098 billion by 2020, from a 2008 total of $293 billion. This represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 9.6%. Traditional asset management, in particular the mutual fund industry, is expanding aggressively across Africa.

This will largely be driven by a number of factors: economic growth and the subsequent rise in wealth will boost the demand for pensions and life insurance products, the demand for retail investment funds will consequently increase, and the widespread adoption of technology will make delivery of new products cheaper, bringing more consumers into the formal financial sector.
Ilse French, PwC Africa Asset Management Leader
The report, Africa Asset Management 2020, is an in-depth study which examines the asset management industry across 12 African countries which have financial markets of varying levels of development.  The countries, which represent a sample from Northern, Eastern, Western and Southern Africa, were assessed by a range of relevant indicators in order to capture their true investment potential.  The countries were categorised into three groups: advancing markets, promising markets, and nascent markets. In addition, the report outlines and analyses the future game changers for investment into Africa as a whole as well as addressing the impacts for these specific markets.

Ilse French, PwC Africa Asset Management Leader, says:  “As Africa has entered the 21st century, economic growth has surpassed expectations and stimulated investor interest across a broad range of asset classes. Although the fund industry in Africa is, in most countries, still developing and has much to prove, global and local asset managers are likely to become more active as the industry continues to flourish.”


PwC also predicts that:

•          The global rise in the volume of investable assets which has taken place over the last two or three decades is set to continue to increase in the future and investable assets are set to be significantly higher in 2020 than today.

•          Recent research conducted by PwC projects that global AuM will rise to around $101.7 trillion by 2020. Although Africa is a small part of the global industry it is a region that is experiencing significant growth.

It is interesting to note that retail investors form a small proportion of investors in asset management in Africa. However, the report suggests that the number of retail investors in these markets could be increased by way of education about products, encouragement of a savings and investment culture, and overall economic growth.

Capital Markets in Africa

Capital market regulation varies widely across Africa as legislation and regulatory structures differs between countries, reflecting both market and varied historical conditions. In some countries, capital market regulations falls under the realm of the central bank, while in others they are under the auspices of the independent regulatory commission.

Although the GDP growth rate in Africa is on the rise, the savings and investment culture has not yet caught up and for the most part, capital markets remain small and illiquid. Regulations to boost the capital markets are under discussion in some countries, such as encouraging pension funds to invest in locally listed companies.

Investors and distributors

All parts of the financial services sectors are expected to continue to expand to 2020 and beyond, but bank assets will wane in the coming years as competition is fuelled by new entrants and regulatory reforms.

A number of banks have set up their own asset management subsidiaries in a bid to push their own proprietary products. Some of these banks are also seeking cooperation with foreign asset managers to promote their African investment strategies in other parts of the world in exchange for promotion of other asset managers’ investment strategies in Africa. Banks have the best distribution network and they will likely remain the main distributors in the future. The pension fund sector in the 12 countries in this study has grown steadily from 2006 to 2014 and is expected to continue to grow considerably. As these economies mature, pensions are becoming more significant as a part of the financial services sector, although many countries still have no private pension schemes.  However, change is underway with Mauritius and Ghana serving as examples of countries that have created three pillar pension schemes encompassing a third tier of voluntary schemes for middle class workers.

The insurance industry is also growing but, Africa has a low average penetration rate of about 3.5% of GDP, with the exception of South Africa which is over 15%. As with pension funds, insurance companies outsource part of their asset management to third parties.

Private investment

Currently private equity (PE) investment is the most interesting form of investment for foreign investors as a result of illiquidity in the capital markets. But the lack of availability of exit options remains a concern for potential private equity investors in Africa.

Infrastructure is also considered to be a major opportunity for investment. The World Bank has estimated that an annual spending of $93 billion would be required to achieve national development targets in Africa and close the infrastructure gap. Many African countries have taken longer to catch up on infrastructure and the recent economic uncertainty further underscores the need for a massive need to overhaul Africa’s infrastructure.

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