Barbadian Investment Expert calls for harmonisation across Caribbean’s stock markets

A leading Barbados-based fund manager has returned from an international finance and investment forum in Trinidad and Tobago after making a call for the harmonisation of securities regulations and stock market trading across the region.

Chief investment officer at Fortress Fund Managers, Peter Arender made this call as part of the opening panel of the 2015 Caribbean Investment and Finance Forum earlier this month. The panel addressed the topic, “The roadmap to a connected future“.

Chief investment officer at Fortress Fund Managers, Peter Arender has made a call for the harmonisation of securities regulations and stock market trading across the region.

Chief investment officer at Fortress Fund Managers, Peter Arender has made a call for the harmonisation of securities regulations and stock market trading across the region.

Mr. Arender, in answer to a question about what was needed to make the Caribbean environment optimal for investment in capital markets, said that Fortress was struck by how fragmented the region’s stock exchanges were.

“When it comes to the time for investors, whether regionally or extra-regionally, to look at making investments, whether in Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados or Jamaica it is quite astonishing how fragmented the regulatory regimes are and how fragmented each stock exchange is, trading in its own currency and having its own regulatory requirements,” he explained.

The chief investment officer went on to say that it was beneficial for the region to find and build on its commonalities. “The more we can find those commonalities, I think the better off we’ll be. The harmonisation of securities regulations and stock market trading seems like a no-brainer and I can’t believe it’s not happened yet.”

When asked to identify attractive investment options or sectors in the Caribbean, Mr. Arender said that within the region he hoped to see diversification in the ways in which people saved for their retirement. “As companies realise that defined benefit pensions, which guarantee the amounts paid out, were nice to have but not a way of the future, I hope that we’ll see a move within the region to diversify the ways in which people can save for their own retirement while moving the government a little bit out of that equation. This would go some way in giving citizens more flexibility as to how their savings are invested with more diversification into global financial markets.”

Discussing the viability of the tourism sector for investment by fund managers like Fortress, Mr. Arender said, “As investors we have a difficult time looking at tourism investments because they typically require huge ongoing capital expenditures and are subject to global forces. This makes it very difficult from a price perspective.”

Other panellists at the forum’s opening session were Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Vasant Bharath; Republic Bank’s Deputy Managing Director, Nigel Baptiste; and Massy Group’s President and Group Chief Executive Officer, Gervase Warner.

The 2015 Caribbean Investment and Finance Forum placed regional public and private sector leaders alongside international investors and thought-leaders to address difficult questions and sensitive issues, to search for real-world solutions for Caribbean governments and the private sector, and to meaningfully drive forward the regional agenda.

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