Investing in Challenging Times

Tips for investing in challenging economic times

Good Advice for Hard Times

An economic downturn usually makes people more aware of the importance of saving and spending their money wisely.  Here are a few tips you can adopt to help you manage your money wisely during such periods.

 Pay off your debt

The repayment of debt is the best investment you can ever make. A downturn in the economy means fewer job opportunities, wage cuts, and rising unemployment. In order to protect yourself, it is wise to repair your personal balance sheet. Reduce your spending and use the money you save to reduce personal debt first (credit cards, overdrafts, loans), then your mortgage. Build a cash cushion to help meet unexpected bills or to cover expenditure if your income falls.

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TTSEC and Central Bank sign historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)

The Trinidad and Tobago Securities and Exchange Commission (TTSEC) signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with fellow regulator in the financial sector, the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) on January 06 in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

This TTSEC-CBTT MOU represents a common understanding by the two authorities about how they will consult, cooperate and exchange information for regulatory enforcement purposes and is expected to further promote integrity, efficiency and financial soundness of the capital market. This agreement formalises and serves as a symbol of the pledge by both regulators to use reasonable efforts to provide any information that they possess which may relate either to the safety and soundness of any Financial or Licensed Entity under their regulatory supervision or the efficiency of the securities market.

This landmark event comes on the heels of the TTSEC joining a select group of 99 organizations to become a Full Signatory to the International Organization of Securities Commissions’ (IOSCO’s) Multilateral Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Consultation and Cooperation and the Exchange of Information in June of 2013.

By becoming a Full Signatory, Trinidad and Tobago will benefit from:

  • Sharing information with foreign regulators;
  • Enhanced international reputation and credibility; and
  • Increased investor confidence in its market for securities.

The passage of the Securities Act 2012 in December 2012 greatly assisted Trinidad and Tobago’s application in becoming a Full Signatory. The Act has, at its core, the promotion of regulatory cooperation, enhancement of disclosure obligations, strengthening of the regulatory framework, fostering transparency and facilitating an increase in the TTSEC’s enforcement powers. The Act also places greater  emphasis on prosecuting market misconduct and manipulation.

The TTSEC is currently finalising the details of another MoU with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the third regulator within the financial services industry. This agreement is expected to be formalised and signed  by February of this year.

The Chairman of the TTSEC, Professor Patrick Watson  gave his commitment that the TTSEC will constantly be re-evaluating the conceptual framework and operational regime for the regulation of the industry in order to ensure continued growth and financial stability of the market, while simultaneously protecting investors.  The Commission further resolves to continue collaborating with all key stakeholders in order to ensure that confidence is built in the entire financial system and the economic foundation of the country is strengthened.

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Improving Investor Education and Building Investor Confidence

 

In October 2012, ahead of the COSRA 2012 Meeting, the Commission conducted a survey which focused on investor education and its link to capital market development. The results revealed that investors are generally “risk averse”, have a strong preference for using the commercial banks as their options for deposits and that there is low retail investor participation in the stock market across all jurisdictions. We, as a Commission, are also aware that investors in 2013 have less disposable income, are more susceptible to risk, must be more prudent in their financial decision-making and must become financially literate in order to participate meaningfully in the capital market. The results of the survey also indicated the need for investors to have confidence in the regulation of the market and its players.

 

It is against this backdrop that the Commission resolved to continue advancing investor education initiatives so that investor education and financial planning take on greater meaning to the retail investor and to position the Commission as an effective regulator of the securities market and its players. Making investor education interesting and appealing has been a challenging task because many persons pay insufficient attention to financial planning until it is too late. Moreover, some persons tend to create a mental block against issues related to finances and savings.

 

To address these challenges, we have been working on an investor education investment game for secondary school students, a webinar (a virtual seminar which can be viewed from the comfort and convenience of one’s computer), infographics (using graphics to present/represent traditionally heavy information) and a series of TV advertisements focused on scams. The latter is being produced in collaboration with the Caribbean New Media Group (CNMG) and tells the story of a group of persons who did not practise due diligence in their investment choices and consequently, were scammed out of their money by an “investment advisor”. The webinar, infographics and the investor education game will be finalised and ready for launch and implementation by the start of July. 

 

Positioning the Commission as an effective regulator is a task which requires a multi-pronged approach using the various media platforms – print and electronic; traditional and digital. Some of the initiatives which the Commission has been pursuing along this vein include the production of the Quarterly Newsletter which is distributed to the market actors and other stakeholders and placement of corporate messages intended to raise the profile of the Commission and raise awareness of its mandate. Some  future corporate communications plans are greater engagement of the media, regular interviews with the traditional media outlets and public awareness initiatives geared toward the rollout of the Securities Act.

 

The Commission looks forward to engaging the stakeholders and general citizenry in the realisation of its mandate.

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Helping YOU to invest with confidence!

A key part of the mandate of the Trinidad and Tobago Securities and Exchange Commission is the protection of investors and the creation of a fair and proper environment which can favour investments. It is against this backdrop that the Commission embarked on an investor education programme: a programme geared toward present and potential investors.

As global markets become more complex and at times equally volatile, the Commission has realised that investors must have access to more reliable information in order to guide their investment decisions. The Commission’s Investor Education programme focuses on developing a more literate financial consumer who can make informed and suitable personal investment decisions, while avoiding the pitfalls and dangers that can arise in the form of unregistered financial products as well as various scams and fraudulent investment schemes. 

In its Investor Education programme, the Commission focuses on providing information on the role and function of the TTSEC, the rights and responsibilities of investors, a guide to making wise investment decisions and much more. This initiative aims to demystify financial concepts and is designed to equip ordinary investors with the tools they need to understand and evaluate the risks and benefits of various financial products and to recognize, avoid and report illegal investment schemes.

We, at the Commission, firmly believe that investors and potential investors hold the key to and even more importantly, bear the responsibility for their own financial futures. Our vision is for a better informed, educated and more confident citizenry, able to accept greater responsibility for their investment and financial affairs, with the ability to play a more active role in the market for financial services.

Our Investor Education Outreach programmes are conducted by staff of the Commission (officers from the Communications Unit; Market Regulation and Surveillance Division and the Policy Research and Planning Division comprise the IE Team) and take place throughout Trinidad and Tobago. The focus of the programmes will be on investors’ rights and responsibilities through discussions and presentations on:  

  1. The importance of saving and investing;
  2. Understanding investment vehicles; 
  3. How to manage investment risk;
  4. How to avoid investment fraud; and 
  5. How to make investment decisions given a range of criteria.

Our target audiences include:

Young adults (16-25), who are pursuing or have completed higher education or training and are in the process of starting their first real job or aiming to do so. As they move into adulthood, they will take on more responsibility for their own personal finances. Moreover, the Commission believes that this group is normally one of the most difficult groups to target because of the fact that appealing and novel ways must be adopted to attract them and keep them interested. Since the youth of today will be the adults of tomorrow, we must educate and empower them to take action and be responsible for their future actions. Therefore, by educating our youth and young adults from an early age, it is expected that they can become investor literate and make wise financial decisions when the opportunity presents itself.

Adults in the workplace.

Recruitment, promotion, relocation, parental leave, flexible working hours, redundancy and retirement all have an impact on one’s finances and ought to be the trigger for a review of one’s financial arrangements. The workplace is therefore a natural channel for reaching people with specific investor education needs

Persons preparing for Retirement.

Retirement is one of those activities that should be carefully planned for, but attention to this is often postponed. More complex financial solutions and a greater emphasis on people taking personal responsibility for their finances make retirees a priority target group.

Outreach 2012

In 2012, the Commission has conducted sessions with 8 arms of the Judiciary of Trinidad and Tobago (Supreme Courts and Magistracy) and the formations of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (TT Regiment, TT Air Guard and TT Coast Guard).

The Commission will be expanding these sessions to include entities in the private sector, public sector, professional groups and tertiary level institutions. If you are interested in having an outreach session for your entity or for a special group to which you belong, feel  free to contact the Commission’s Communications Division at 624-2991 ext.1275 or 1259.