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28 Mar 2017

Wealth Africa 2017: Africa, the cradle of opportunities

The very first Wealth Africa Seminar, spearheaded by MCB Consulting Services (MCBCS), in partnership with EY and Temenos, took place on 9th and 10th March at the Maritim Resorts, Balaclava. This seminar, under the aegis of MCB Group, paved the way to constructive exchanges about wealth and asset management in Africa. Bankers, asset managers, investment advisors, lawyers and tax advisors, amidst others, converged to discuss the opportunities and challenges centered on wealth management in Africa.

53 delegates coming from various parts of Africa graced the conference by their attendance at the 1st Wealth Africa 2017 Seminar. It all started as a bourgeoning seed, stirring minds within MCBCS. The idea was simple: showcasing Africa and making Mauritius the hub of it all. From there surfaced the Wealth Africa Conference! During those two enriching days, several presentations and addresses laid emphasis on the key role that Mauritius could and should strive to play in the expansion of wealth and asset management in Africa.

This seminar also emphasized the worldwide predominance of digitalisation, with increasing customer pressure for sophisticated products. Temenos introduced the WealthSuite, with a live demo of the cutting-edge Omni channel platform. This presentation hit home by pointing at technology as the enabler of the “do more with less” concept, especially important for the dynamic wealth management industry built on client-centricity.

Representatives of banks from Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Botswana, Malawi and Democratic Republic of Congo, to name but a few, greatly contributed to the discussions during the forum. The Wealth Africa Seminar proved itself to be the ideal opportunity for the gratin of high finance to network and form new partnerships, which inevitably echoed what Mr. Gerald Lincoln, Country Managing Partner EY Mauritius, said during a discussion: “Doing business in Africa is all about partnerships, partnerships and partnerships.”

However, it is impossible to talk about investing into the African market without perusing the “risks”, ranging from erratic political structures to inadequate security, it entails. Following that thread of thought, a notable panel discussion about “Managing Risks in Africa” ensued with Mr. Amedee Darga, Chairman of the Mauritius Africa Business Club, as moderator. Fellow panelists Mr. Didier Viney, Head of Africa Desk at DTOS, Mr. Jean-Michel Félix, Chief Executive Officer of MCB Consulting and Mr. Gerald Lincoln, shared their first-hand experiences on the practicalities of doing business in Africa. The focal concept was that there is no “African Strategy” as Africa, itself, comprises of dynamic entities, with each realms having particular economic, political and social situations. A copy-and-paste strategy is already paving the way towards failure. For successful investments to occur: Understanding the country is a prerequisite.

It is anchored into our mindsets that investing in Africa comprises bigger risks but as Mr. Jean-Michel Félix pointed out during one panel talk: “Perception of risks in Africa is the first misperception. Get the myths out.” Liaising with people who have “seen it” and “done it” is crucial before making hasty assumptions. This approach comes to reinforce one of MCB Consulting’s core value that is “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk”. Africa is a melting pot of countries filled with opportunities. Investors should be ready to take some risks to reap rewards.