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


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.

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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.

Game changers: global megatrends

“Significant global and continent megatrends, we refer to as the ‘game changers’, will also help drive the market and create future opportunities,” says French. 

“Africa’s demographic dividend, its growing middle class, its increased use of technology, and its rapid urbanisation will all have a part to play in the development of the asset management industry in Africa.”

1.         Demographic dividend 

Africa currently represents 15% of the world’s population and 3% of the world’s GDP and less than 1% of the world’s stock market. But that is changing. “There will be diverse opportunities and these will be different to those in the developed world,” adds French. Africa’s population growth and the resulting demographic dividend could boost economic growth. Investment is necessary in some industries in order to create labour productivity and economic diversification, and reduce poverty rates. 

If policies are implemented to create enough employment for the enlarged workforce, the falling dependency rates should increase both savings and investment and create a substantial demand for savings products. 

2.         Growing middle class 

Africa’s middle class has increased substantially over the past decade. Standard Bank’s report on the middle-class in Africa indicates that Nigeria will add 7.6 million middle class households by 2030, while Ghana will add 1.6 million. The middle classes are associated with a great emphasis on education and saving. This will increase demand for sophisticated financial services and investment products such as retail investment funds, thereby significantly boosting the asset management industry. 

3.         Increased use of technology 

Technology is increasingly changing the face of Africa. Mobile financial services have taken off as larger portions of the population access the web by way of mobile devices compared to fixed line internet. Mobile technology is also enhancing financial services across Africa by way of a non-banked model and a banking model. However, data security may become a key concern in the future requiring closer collaboration between telecoms and financial regulators. 

4.         Urbanisation and infrastructure

Poor infrastructure in Africa is an impediment to economic growth and improvements in this area are required. PwC research suggests that infrastructure spending in sub-Saharan Africa will exceed $180bn by 2025.The shortfall in government funding creates opportunities for private investors to get involved either through direct investment or public-private partnerships. 

Currently Africa’s urban population is increasing by 1.1 percent annually and is expected to have a major impact on real estate and infrastructure by 2020. In addition, PE is growing across Africa. Although the majority of deals are small in size, it seems likely that deal size will grow to be more in line with other emerging markets as their economies and regulatory frameworks develop.

Development of the African financial services industry 

The 12 countries in this study vary from those with extensive legislative frameworks, such as South Africa, to those in much earlier stages in the development of their regulatory frameworks, such as Angola.

Regulatory reform is likely to boost economic growth and stimulate investor appetite. Changes to regulations to pension funds in particular could have an effect on the asset management industry as public pensions are usually the largest institutional investors in many African countries. These changes include allowing pension funds to invest in a wide range of assets or the establishment of a three tier pension system. 

In addition, sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) can fill existing funding gaps until the legal frameworks of African countries develop sufficiently to make them appealing to other investors. “As large institutional investors, SWFs could provide a considerable boost to the asset management industry in Africa, particularly because they are long-term investors who seek stable returns,” adds French. The fact that most of the funds use a proportion of their assets to make impact investments domestically or regionally suggests that they will become big players in local markets.

“As asset managers look for new investment channels and competition becomes increasingly intense, understanding the characteristics of the local markets will be crucial to grasp the potential of this final frontier,” concludes French.

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