INVESTMENT ANALYST: Thabo Ncalo of Stanlib. 09/02/09. © Unknown.
INVESTMENT ANALYST: Thabo Ncalo of Stanlib. 09/02/09. © Unknown.

Maryanne Maina

Maryanne Maina

The global economic crisis has not stopped investors pouring their money into Africa, keeping investment analysts in the continent like Thabo Ncalo busy.

Ncalo is an analyst of African equities at Stanlib Asset Management.

His main role is to analyse listed stocks across African stock markets, with a primary focus on the Nigerian, Ghanaian, Mauritian and Zimbabwean bourses.

He said: "It involves equity research, country micro and macro economic analysis. I am part of a larger team that manages African portfolios for our clients. Our focus is forward looking, knowing where the future of companies, profitability, and if we should invest in them."

Ncalo said knowing the company that clients could potentially invest in intimately was crucial because it enables the analysts to understand the company's present and future plans, as well as the host country's current political situation.

His day starts with a daily team meeting at 8am to discuss various market-related issues affecting their clients. This is followed by meetings with clients in various countries. The research material is sourced from various news publications, news agencies and companies.

"This information provides us with a guide on which stocks are worth investing in or not on behalf of our clients.

"I travel widely in Africa and one must be able to mix with people of different cultures because they do business in different ways," said Ncalo.

Ncalo asserted the importance of knowing French - the second most commonly spoken language after English on the continent.

Before joining Stanlib, Ncalo worked as an equity investment analyst at Investec Asset Management, where he analysed shares on the JSE with a focus on healthcare, media and plastic packaging.

"This job is very dynamic and challenging because the markets change constantly. It requires you to think on your feet, be versatile, patient and make quick decisions," he said.

"An educational background in finance is essential. One can study for the Certified Financial Analyst programme or pursue the Master's in Business Administration. I have a Bachelor's of Commerce but I am also pursuing my CFA."

Poor or lack of corporate governance in some countries is a major challenge to the investment analyst's decisions.

"Sometimes we have little access to crucial information, and political interference and unpredictability of the market affect our decision making."

Despite the challenges, his passion for the job remains.

"It is satisfying when we raise capital from offshore clients for investment in the continent," Ncalo added.

"Seeing these funds bringing development to the continent, getting our investments right and seeing appreciation of the stock markets are our joys."