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Business News Wed, 19 Aug 2015

Finance houses seek unified front to fight challenges

Finance houses in the country have listed a litany of challenges hindering their operations, which they hope to iron out with the bodies involved through the newly formed Association of Finance Houses (AFH).

The challenges include omissions with taxes, which are affecting their bottom-line; unfair competition from banks and savings and loans companies and the inability of regulators and policy makers to consult with the sub-sector in the development of regulations for players.

Beyond bringing the 27 finance houses in the country under one umbrella, the President of the AFH, Mr Oko Nikoi-Dzani, said at its maiden general council meeting in Accra that the association would liaise with regulatory bodies and other institutions to create a conducive environment for members to operate.

He described as unacceptable the present situation where regulations meant for their sub-sector were often developed without adequate consultation among players until they were being applied on the financial houses.

“We operate in a country where everything goes. When it comes to regulations, we have only been at the receiving end. We often do not know what is there until it is implemented and these are the things we will be engaging in but not until we are strong together,” Mr Nikoi-Dzani, who manages the NDK Financial Services, said at the meeting.

Another challenge, he said, was the case where banks and savings and loans companies mistook finance houses as competitors and, therefore, a threat to their operations, which they seek to fight by going into areas that should solely be the preserve of finance houses.

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The association is the first of its kind and is expected to serve as an advocacy institution for finance houses in the country.

At the maiden council meeting, members of the Executive Council, led by Mr Nikoi-Dzani, were unveiled.

The other members are Mr Emmanuel Twum Obeng, the MD of Jislah Financial Services, as Vice President; Mr Kofi Adu Mensah, MD of Bayport Financial Services, as Treasurer; Mr Kenneth Thompson, MD, Dalex Finance and Leasing Company Limited, and Mrs Felicity Acquah as the Executive Secretary and Consultant.

Attempts to form an umbrella body for finance houses, which refers to institutions licensed by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to primarily lend to businesses and individuals, dates back to the 1990s when the few players at the time attempted but failed to form a sustainable association.

Given that an umbrella body for members is paramount to the growth of players, Mr Nikoi-Dzani said some players renewed the effort, which resulted in the creation of the AFH.

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“We know what the bankers have been able to do through the Ghana Association of Bankers (GAB). If we also come together, we will become stronger, grow ourselves and support the economy properly,” he said at the meeting, which was graced by all the members.

He thus called on members to participate actively in the affairs of the association, stressing that fee payment was only a minute part of the responsibilities of a member.

“As a member, we will like you to participate in seminars and workshops, contribute to discussions at meetings and link between the finance houses,” he stated.

Additionally, Mr Nikoi-Dzani said the association would develop a code of ethics for members, which would serve as a self-regulatory guideline for finance houses in the country.

That, he said, would help protect and maintain the image of the industry, as it pertains in the banking industry.

Source: Graphic.com.gh