How SEC Major Restructuring Will Affect Market Operations

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is undergoing a major restructuring of its operations aimed at boosting staff morale and improving service delivery to all stakeholders.

The restructuring entails both a review of the organizational structure as well as a voluntary retirement scheme to trim down the previously top-heavy ranking structure. FROM 7 TO 3 STRONGER ZONAL OFFICES Under the previous organizational structure, the SEC operated with a head office in Abuja and 7 zonal offices in Kaduna, Kano, Ibadan, Lagos, Maiduguri, Onitsha and Port Harcourt.

In the new arrangement, SEC has decided to close down 4 of its zonal offices in Kaduna, Ibadan, Maiduguri and Onitsha in order to allocate both human and material resources to strengthen the remaining 3 in Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt.

This decision became necessary after a careful review of the operations and performances of all the zonal offices. Initially, the zonal offices were ostensibly created to bring SEC operations closer to the investing public both in terms of complaints resolution and investor education.

The review however showed that the Commission could accomplish these objectives more efficiently by leveraging technology and shifting resources to the use of both print and electronic media for public enlightenment.

Additionally, the new complaints management framework being championed by the Commission will delegate first stages of complaints management to the operators and trade groups.

This implies that less and less complaints will be handled by the SEC, further reducing the need for multiple zonal offices. With the 3 zonal offices to be maintained, SEC will still enjoy a balanced geopolitical spread as the Lagos zonal office covers the entire southwest geopolitical zone, the Port Harcourt office will service the south-south and southeast zone while the office in Kano will cater to investors across the northern region.

In essence, by closing the 4 zonal offices and strengthening the remaining 3, SEC can do more at a lower cost, this will free up resources to be allocated to critical areas of the Commission mandate like investor protection and investor education.

IMPORTANT FUNCTIONS CLOSER TO OPERATORS

The SEC zonal office in Lagos enjoys a special status even among the 3 zonal offices to be maintained. Its location in Nigeria commercial capital implies that it services the gross majority of market operators who have daily dealings with the Commission.

In view of this important fact, SEC intends to strengthen functions such as monitoring, investigation and registration at the Lagos zonal office which will enable operators to reduce their overhead cost.

For the SEC, the move to shift more roles and functions to the Lagos office will boost institutional capacity and increase efficiency while improving service delivery by reducing turnaround time for processing applications. In addition, SEC can reduce its overhead cost as well while taking full advantage of proximity to operators to discharge its responsibilities in a timelier manner.

FREEING THE TOP AND ENABLING CAREER PROGRESSION

Another aspect of the structural reform of SEC as an institution is the composition of staff by ranking. The Commission had been operating at an unsustainably top-heavy structure with a lot more senior level staff and junior level ones. For example, as at January 2015, there were over 30 Deputy Directors, more than 40 Assistant Directors and upward of 80 Senior Managers.

This issue had direct effect on staff morale as well as motivation because it inhibited career progression. To address this situation, the SEC Board approved a voluntary retirement scheme proposed by the Executive Management to incentivize top-level staff above the age of 45 who had served the Commission for more than 10 years and a nearing their retirement to voluntarily retire.

Through this exercise, at the end of July 2015, 43 very senior staff exited the Commission, some of whom had served for more than 20 years and had stagnated for up to 11 years on the same position due to the non-availability of vacancies. They were therefore delighted to take the offer that allows them retire to focus on other endeavors they care about.

LEVERAGING TECHNOLOGY TO STRENGTHEN SUPERVISORY FUNCTIONS

In line with our strategic directive to boost market efficiency and align with best practice, the Commission has embarked on the process of auditing the industry information technology infrastructure.

This is in a bid to ascertain the current status of automation in the market, articulate the appropriate level required, and invest in the required resources that will aid market automation, improve transparency and efficiency and indeed boost market competitiveness.

To achieve the foregoing, the Commission is currently overhauling and bench marking its infrastructure requirements with jurisdictions such as India, Malaysia, South Africa and the United States of America.

We are also in discussions with relevant service providers from these jurisdictions for the purposes of full scale implementation. This far-reaching restructuring underway at the SEC is repositioning the institution to focus on the strategic objective of faithfully implementing the 10-year capital market master plan developed by the market. The institution is now a lot more nimble and refocused on its core mandates.

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