College Financial Aid FAQ

Financially Challenged? There’s lots of free college information available online, and here are some of the most popular questions when it comes to student Financial Aid. Learn about the difference between grants, student loans and college scholarships and bank on your future!

What is Financial Aid? Financial aid is monetary aid to help you pay for your college education. Aid is made available from grants, college scholarships, student loans, and part-time employment from federal, state, institutional, and private sources. The types and amounts of aid awarded are determined by financial need, available funds, student classification, academic performance, and sometimes the timeliness of application.
What is the FAFSA? FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA is the Federal Department of education’s primary application for financial aid and is the gateway form to just about any other federal, state or private grants, college scholarships, student loans or college work study programs. The FAFSA form must be filled out each year between January 1 and March 10th (although some colleges have their own earlier deadlines) and can be completed online or by mail. Four to six weeks after you file the FAFSA (two to four weeks if you filed electronically), you will receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) which will contain a summary of the information you submitted on your FAFSA and presents your Expected Family contributions (EFC) which tells you the amount your family is expected to contribute towards your education. The amount of financial aid is then determined approximately by the tuition of your college subtracted by your EFC. If you do not receive the SAR within a reasonable amount of time, you can call the Federal Processor at 1-319-337-5665. Review the SAR carefully for errors. If necessary, make any corrections on Part 2 of the SAR and return it promptly to the address listed on the form. You will then be sent a new SAR with the changes made.
What is the College Scholarship Services Profile (CSS Profile)? Some colleges also require you to fill out a College Scholarship Services Profile form in addition to the FAFSA. It is a secondary financial aid form that supplies further information about your family income. Be sure to check whether this form is necessary and about specific deadlines with your college directly.
What is the difference between a Grant, a Student Loan and a College Scholarship? A grant is free money from government or non-profit organizations that does not need to be repaid. Grants are usually determined by financial need but can also be influenced by academic merit. Unlike grants, student loans are money loaned from an academic institution, financial institution, or federal government that must be repaid. Like a grant, a student scholarship is free money, but is generally offered through colleges, businesses, private individuals and outside sponsors. Those awarded by the college itself are often called MERIT AID. While grants tend to be issued according to financial need, college scholarships are awarded on a broad-base of criteria, the most common being academic merit. Furthermore, to receive any grants or loans you must complete a FAFSA, however, many scholarships may not require you to complete a FAFSA to be eligible. Instead, you may need to obtain application material directly from the donor of the scholarship.
What are the different kinds of grants? There are federal as well as campus-based (institutional) grants. Federal Grants are free gift money from the Federal Department of Education while campus-based grants are government funds issued directly from your college. The campus-based grants provide a certain amount of funds for each participating school to administer each year. When the money for a program is gone, no more awards can be made from that program for that year, so make sure you find out about the types of grants awarded by each college you are considering as well as their specific deadline. Below are some of the most common grants.
Federal Grants Pell Grants are considered a foundation of federal financial aid, to which aid from other federal and non-federal sources might be added. Pell Grants are usually only awarded to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor’s or a professional degree. The amount you get depends on your financial need, your college’s tuition, your status as a full-time or part-time student and your plans to attend school for a full academic year or less. The Academic Competitiveness Grant is a new grant available to first year college students who graduated from high school after January 1, 2006 or for second year college students who graduated from high school after January 1, 2005. Only students who are eligible for a Federal Pell Grant and who has successfully completed a rigorous high school program as determined by the state or local education agency and recognized by the Secretary of Education. An Academic Competitiveness Grant will provide up to $750 for the first year of undergraduate study and up to $1,300 for the second year of undergraduate study for full-time students who are eligible for a Federal Pell Grant. The National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (AKA the National Smart Grant) is available during the third and fourth years of undergraduate study to full-time students who are eligible for the Federal Pell Grant and who are majoring in physical life, or computer sciences, mathematics, technology, or engineering or in a foreign language determined critical to national security. The student must have also maintained a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3. 0 in coursework required for the major. The National SMART Grant award is in addition to the student’s Pell Grant award. Campus-based Grants
The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) The FSEOG is a campus-based grant aimed at assisting students with exceptional financial need. Pell Grant recipients with the lowest expected family contributions (EFCs) will be considered first for a FSEOG. You can receive between $100 and $4,000 a year depending on when you apply, your financial need, the funding at the school you are attending, and the policies of the financial aid office at your school.
What are the different kinds of student loans? A student loan is money that needs to be repaid after you have completed your studies. Generally, interest rates are low- so that you do not rack up as much debt as you would with a credit card or bank loan. There are campus-based loans, which you repay directly to your college, as well as federal loans which you repay either directly to the U.S. government or to your financial institution.
Campus-based LoansFederal Perkins Loan The Federal Perkins loan is a campus- based loan because it is administered directly by the financial aid office at each participating school. In other words, your school is the lender although the loan is made with government funds. Your school will either pay you directly or apply your loan to your school charges. You’ll receive the loan in at least two payments during the academic year. You can borrow up to $4,000 for each year of undergraduate study with a maximum of $20,000 for your entire undergraduate degree. The amount you receive depends on when you apply, your financial need and the funding level at your school. The Federal Perkins Loan is a low-interest , 5 % loan for students with exceptional financial need. You must repay this loan directly to your school and you have nine months to begin your repayment plan after you graduate. Generally you will make monthly payments to the school that loaned you the money over a 10 year period. Federal LoansThe U.S. Department of Education administers the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program and the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program. Both the FFEL and Direct Loan programs consist of what are generally known as 1. Stafford Loans (for students) and 2. PLUS loans (for Parents). Schools generally participate in either the FFEL or Direct Loan program, but sometimes schools participate in both. For either type of loan, you must fill out FAFSA, after which your school will review the results and will review the results and will inform you about your loan eligibility. You also will have to sign a promissory note, a binding legal document that lists the conditions under which you’re borrowing, and the terms under which you agree to repay the loan.
Stafford Loans Stafford loans are federal loans for students. Eligibility rules and loan amounts are identical under both the FFEL and Direct loan programs, but providers and repayment plans differ. For all Stafford loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2006, the interest rate is fixed at 6. 8 percent. However, you can be considered for a subsidized loan, depending on your financial need, in which the government will pay (subsidize) the interest on your loan while you’re in school, for the first six months after you leave school and if you qualify to have your payments deferred. You might be able to borrow loan funds beyond your subsidized loan amount even if you don’t have demonstrated financial need. In that case, you’ll receive an unsubsidized loan. Your school will subtract the total of your other financial aid from your cost of attendance to determine whether you are eligible for an unsubsidized loan. Unlike a subsidized loan, you are responsible for you’re the interest from the time the loan is disbursed until the time it is repaid in full. After you graduate, you will have a six month ‘grace-period’ before you must begin repayment. During this period of time, you’ll receive repayment information, and you’ll be notified of your first payment due date. You are responsible for beginning repayment on time, even if you don’t receive this information. You will receive more detailed information on your repayment options during entrance and exit counselling sessions provided by your school.
Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL)Funds from your FFEL will come from a bank, credit union or other lender that participates in the program. Schools that participate in the FFEL program, will usually have a list of preferred lenders. Student loan borrowers may choose a lender from that list, or choose a different lender they prefer. Your loan money must first be applied to pay for tuition and fees, room and board and other school charges. If money remains, you’ll receive the funds by cheque or in cash. Besides interests, you will pay a fee of up to 4 % of the loan, deducted proportionately from each loan disbursement. For a FFEL Stafford Loan, a portion of this fee goes to the federal government, and a portion goes to the guaranty agency (the organization that administers the FFEL Program in your state) to help reduce the cost of your loans.
Direct LoanUnder the direct loan program, the funds for your loan come directly from the federal government and you will need to repay your Direct Loan to the U.S. Department of Education’s Direct Loan Servicing Center. Like the FFEL loan, you will pay a fee of up to 4 % of the loan. For a direct Stafford Loan, the entire fee goes to the government to help reduce the cost of the loans.
PLUS Loans (Parent Loans)Parents can borrow a PLUS Loan to help pay your education expenses if you are a dependent undergraduate student enrolled at least half time in an eligible program at an eligible school. PLUS Loans are available through the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program and the Direct Loan Program. Your parents can get either loan, but not both, for you during the same enrolment period. They must also have an acceptable credit history. For a Direct PLUS Loan, your parents must complete a Direct PLUS Loan application and promissory note, contained in a single form that you get from your school’s financial aid office. For a FFEL PLUS Loan, your parents must complete and submit a PLUS Loan application available from your school, lender, or your state guaranty agency. After the school completes its portion of the application, it must be sent to a lender for evaluation.

What are the different kinds of scholarships? Scholarships are awarded on a broad-base of criteria, the most common being academic merit. Many scholarships carry conditions besides academic merit, such as financial need, affiliation with a group-, leadership, athletic talent, artistic or musical ability etc. Some scholarships are awarded by the college itself, often called MERIT AID. Other scholarships are awarded by outside sponsors. For some scholarships, you need to be nominated. For most of them, you apply directly to a sponsor. Because there are so many different types of scholarships, you should check directly with your financial aid office at your college.

Can I apply for a grant, a loan and a scholarship at the same time? Yes. You can team up different types of financial aid or simply have one kind. Nevertheless, some types of financial aid are contingent on others. For example, you can only receive an Academic Competitive Grant or a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant if you have received a Pell Grant. While you cannot team up a FFEL loan with a direct loan, you may be eligible to receive a subsidized loan (in which the interest is paid by the government) and an unsubsidized loan (in which you are responsible for the interest) at the same time. You can also combine grants with loans and scholarships, so it never hurts to try to get as many different varieties of aid as possible!

What is the Federal Work Study Program? The Federal Work-Study Program (FWS) is a campus-based program that provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, that allows them to earn money to help pay education expenses. The program encourages community service work and work related to the recipient’s course of study.

How often should I apply for financial aid? You will need to apply for financial aid each year. Even if you did not qualify this year, you should reapply next year since financial circumstances can change. The number of family members in college, for example can have a big impact on your eligibility for financial aid. If you submitted a FAFSA during the previous year, you may be able to complete the shorter Renewal FAFSA form instead. The renewal FAFSA will be mailed to your home. The renewal FAFSA preprints most of your answers from the previous year’s FAFSA. Verify that the old responses are still accurate and provide corrections or new answers where appropriate. If you don’t receive a renewal FAFSA by February 15, fill out a new FAFSA form.

How do I know whether I am eligible for financial aid? Don’t assume that you will not qualify for financial aid. Nearly all U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens enrolled at least half the time are now eligible for some form of financial aid. Even if you don’t qualify for a grant, free college info is still available, and you may still be eligible for other forms of financial assistance. Many families don’t apply for financial aid, because they believe that they earn too much money. However, you don’t need to be from a low-income family to receive financial aid. Some loans and scholarships are available regardless of need. Many factors are used to determine your eligibility for financial aid and there is no simple cut-off base on income. You can’t get aid unless you apply!!

Financial Freedom Radio – Do You Know What You Don’t Know?

Financial education is lacking in the general public with even people who have degrees in finance and business being financially uneducated. The “ostrich syndrome” is alive and well in the financial world and that is where these institutions want you to be.

Financial education is something that the masses don’t have and because of the lack of it they end up becoming slaves to the financial institutions. Lumped into this category are the people who have degrees in business and finance. Just because an individual has formal education in finance it doesn’t mean that they are financially educated. They have been educated by the teaching institutions into the ways of the financial institutions.

Any person who has financial education, and educated by a teaching institution has been educated to leave the teaching institution and get a job within an industry and assist in making that company within the particular industry stronger. If they are not an asset then they have no value to the institution they are employed by. So all of the financial education is pro-business!

Translate this to the financial industry and look at the financial education that people receive by the teaching institution; it is pro-financial institution. How do the financial institutions make their money? They make their money on the backs of the consumer, by selling products to the end user. The consumer is the end user! You see anything that makes one group stronger will make the other group weaker. So what makes the financial institutions stronger makes the consumers weaker, because the financial institutions make their money selling products to the consumer. They must “extract the cash” from the consumer in some way or another and justify it as right.

So all of these financial planners and advisors are trained by the teaching institutions to make the financial institutions stronger and if they fall down on the job they get fired. The financial institutions operate under four basic rules;

They must get your money.
They must get your on a systematic and on going basis.
They must hang on to it as long as possible.
They must give it back as little as possible.

If these financial institutions violate these rules they are out of business. Therefore they have to get the consumers money, so doesn’t it make sense that the financial information that they sell to the public, is pro-financial institutions. Take a look around and survey what you do financially. I bet that the majority of the financial things that you do, are centered around the financial institutions in some fashion or another. Sometimes everything that is being done revolves around the financial institution in some way or another, and the financial institution get fees and charges from the consumers in almost everything they do.

Is the majority of your financial activity focused around the financial institutions? If you answered yes than regardless of your financial education, you are financially uneducated. Regardless, of your financial education if you are fueling the financial institutions you are working for them and all of you financial education has guided you right to them. I have worked with clients who think they know it all financially, and end up losing huge sums of their hard earned cash.

If everything that the financial institutions were doing was right then people would not be out living their hard earned money. They would be wealthy beyond dreams. But unfortunately the gains are taken by the financial institutions and little is given to the consumer. I have heard plenty of supposedly highly educated people defend these practices even though they were losing. Usually the people defending these strategies are the people who work for the financial institutions. Don’t get me wrong financial institutions have their place but it’s not fleecing the public.

Actually if you have no financial education you are better off because you have no preconceived financial notions. You are an empty canvas to be painted on and will find it easier to make shifts in thinking. Financial Freedom Radio is conducting a series on “Why You Should Be Rich”, you can listen live to this series of download past episodes. The show is Friday 9:00 AM EST. You can also download to you i-Pod through i-Tunes for free. Simply go to Podcast and type in “Financial Freedom Radio”.

Avoid Common Pitfalls Of Taking Financial Advice

The short answer is to use an Independent Financial Advisor, investigate them thoroughly and make sure you understand any product you buy.

However many people are unsure exactly what is a Independent Financial Advisor or IFA so I will explain the types of Financial Advisor, how an Independent Financial Advisor is different from the other types of advisor and their obligations to a client.

What is a Independent Financial Advisor?

An Independent Financial Advisor (IFA) provides financial planning, offers unbiased advice and recommends suitable financial products from the entire UK market.

All IFAs are regulated by The Financial Service Authority (FSA) which requires them to hold strict qualifications and show a high level of competence.

The term Independent Financial Advisordates from 1988 when the UK government introduced a polarisation regime where an Advisor was either tied to a single insurer or was an independent practitioner.

Since 2005 the UK market has been depolarised. There are now four type of Advisor.

Independent financial Advisors who work with products from the whole of the financial market and allow their customers the option of paying by fee or commission.
Whole of market Advisors, who work with one company but only on a commission basis.
Multi tied – work for more then one financial organisation.
Tied – work for one organisation, typically a high street bank.

When Choosing a Financial Advisor ask whether he or she is independent, multi-tied or tied.

What qualifications does a Independent Financial Advisor need?

There are no set entry requirements for becoming a financial Advisor. Many employers consider a strong background in sales, financial services or customer service to be more important than formal qualifications. However for a person to be allowed to practise as an Independent Financial Advisor the Financial Services Authority (FSA), requires the following qualifications.

The entry level qualifications are the

Financial Planning Certificate
Certificate in Financial Planning (CertPFS

Both are issued by Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and are about equivalent to a challenging GCSE. Treat them accordingly.

The most common advanced qualifications are

Advanced Financial Planning Certificate (AFPC)
Certified Financial Planner licence.

IFAs with higher level professional qualifications may have the letters APFS or FPFS after their names.

What about high level professional qualifications?

The highest professional status for a IFA is a Chartered Financial Planner which was recently introduced.

In addition to these qualifications the FSA requires all IFA to undergo Continuous Professional Development (CPD) to keep upto date with developments in the profession.

Throughout their career an IFA may take many advanced and more specialised qualifications to develop specific areas of expertise. You should ask your IFA about them because he or she will gain the more advanced qualifications as their career progresses making qualifications a useful benchmark of an Advisor’s specific expertise and experience.

How are Independent Financial Advisors paid?

The vast majority of IFAs are paid by commission either in full or in part. The obvious problem with this is that the product offering the best commission may not be the best product for your interests.

The FSA recognised that this might be a problem and since depolorisation of the market in 2005 has required a financial advisor to provide clients the choice of either paying commission or a fee for advice. Despite the conflict of interest, consumers have been reluctant to pay for something they see that they already get for free.

Today there are three main ways an IFA receives payment.

Commission: Typically the advice of the IFA is paid for by a commission from the product provider. The size of the payment must be made known to the client. It is possible to obtain a rebate of part of an IFAs commission in some circumstances, most commonly in Execution-Only cases. The size of commission and whether it is included in the price of the investment or deducted from the amount you invest depends on the product. This is not free advice. The client pays for the commission in the cost of the product.
Fees: Offered by all IFAs, this can be cheaper than paying commission if the product is large, complex or specialist. Paying a fee for advice removes any incentive for an IFA to recommend a wrong product. This makes it a good way to ensure that the advice is impartial.
Combination: It is possible use a combination commission and fees. The IFA will refund part of the advice fee when a product is bought..

It is usually easy to find the cheapest option for each investment because the FSA require that the size and type of any payment to an IFA are made known to a client.

What are an Independent Financial Advisors obligations to a client?

FA are obliged by the FSA to provide the most suitable advice for your particular personal objectives, situation, requirements and appetite for risk.

To do this they usually conduct a “factfind” of a your financial position , preferences and objectives. It is important to be frank and open about your financial situation during this process. This is much easier if you have a personal rapport with your IFA. Using a well planned system for Choosing a Suitable Financial Advisor help make this more likely. Once the fact-find is done they are able to advise the most appropriate action need to meet the objectives and possibly recommend a financial product.

The FSA requires every IFA to tell you about the service they’re offering and provide you a “Keyfacts- about our services” document. Insurance brokers may give you this information in another format. The document describes

the service on offer;
whose products they choose from; and
whether you’ll have to pay a fee for the service or if they’ll get paid by commission on what they sell you.

“This document is important – it can help you shop around and compare services, product ranges and costs, so make sure you are given one and if you’re not, ask for one.”

How to go about Finding a Financial Advisor

You can ask family of friends for a recomendation of someone they trust. Alternatively you can ask another professional you have experience of dealing with for a refferal. Professionals tend to know other profesionals and a have an opinon about them.

The Experience of Financial Markets Regulation in the Southern African Region – Part Two –

The State of Financial Markets in the Southern African Region

Up to the end of 1994, there were 14 stock exchanges in the entire African continent. These were Cairo (Egypt), Casablanca (Morocco), Tunis (Tunisia) in North Africa; Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), Accra (Ghana), and Lagos (Nigeria) in West Africa and Nairobi (Kenya) in Eastern Africa. In the Southern African region, they were Windhoeck (Namibia), Gaborone (Botswana), Johannesburg (South Africa), Port Louis (Mauritius), Lusaka (Zambia), Harare (Zimbabwe) and Mbabane (Swaziland). In 2005, most of other countries in Southern Africa have developed their own stocks exchange markets. They are Maputo (Mozambique), Dar-Es-Salam (Tanzania) and Luanda (Angola).

With the exception of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, and at a different level, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange and the Namibia Stock Exchange, these markets are too small in comparison to developed markets in Europe and North America, and also to other emerging markets in Asia and Latin America. At the end of 1994 there were about 1150 listed companies in the Africa markets put together. The market capitalization of the listed companies amounted to $240 billion for South Africa and about $25 billion for other African countries.

In the countries under review, stock markets are particularly small in comparison with their economies – with the ratio of market capitalization to GDP averaging 17.3 per cent. The limited supply of securities in the markets and the prevailing buy and hold attitudes of most investors have also contributed to low trading volume and turnover ratio. Turnover is poor with less than 10 percent of market capitalization traded annually on most stock exchanges. The low capitalization, low trading volume and turnover would suggest the embryonic nature of most stock markets in the region.

We have gathered considerable information on the current state of financial markets in Africa in general, and due to a limited time frame, it was not possible to collate, analyze and harmonize them. The format of this article cannot allow to take into consideration all the data. From the latest information, it becomes clear that with the ongoing reforms within the financial sectors in the countries under investigation, a lot of progress has been achieved in terms of regulatory and institutional capacity building. We could expect more results with the promotion of more open investment regulations, allowing more financial flows in the region.

The Experience of Financial Markets Regulation in the Southern African Countries

The financial systems of Southern African countries are characterized by high ownership structure resulting in oligopolistic practices which create privileged access to credit for large companies but limited access to smaller and emerging companies. The regulatory framework must take into account all the specific characteristics of these systems, and at the same time keep the general approach inherent to every regulatory instrument.

Financial systems in Southern Africa are also noted for their marked variations. Some systems, such as those in Mozambique, Angola and Tanzania were for a long period, dominantly government-owned, consisting mostly of the central bank and very few commercial banks. Up to date, Angola has not developed a money and capital market, and the informal money markets are used extensively. Other systems had mixed ownership comprising central banks, public, domestic, private and foreign private financial institutions. These can be further sub-divided into those with rich varieties of institutions such as are found in South Africa, Mauritius and Zimbabwe, and others with limited varieties of institutions as are found in Malawi, Zambia, Swaziland, etc.

Regulatory authorities in most of these countries have, over the years, adopted the policy of financial sector intervention in the hope of promoting economic development. Interest rate controls, directed credit to priority sectors, and securing bank loans at below market interest rates to finance their activities, later turned out to undermine the financial system instead of promoting economic growth.

For example, low lending rates encouraged less productive investments and discouraged savers from holding domestic financial assets. Directed credits to priority sectors often resulted in deliberate defaults on the belief that no court action could be taken against the defaulters. In some cases, subsidized credit hardly ever reached their intended beneficiaries.

There was also tendency to concentrate formal financial institutions in urban areas thereby making it difficult to provide credit to people in the rural areas. In some countries, private sector borrowing was largely crowded-out by public sector borrowing. Small firms often had much difficulty in obtaining funds from formal financial institutions to finance businesses. Finally, the tendency of governments of the region to finance public sector deficits through money creation resulted not only in inflation but also in negative real interest rates on deposits. These factors had adverse consequences for the financial sector. First, savers found it unrewarding to invest in financial assets. Second, it generated capital flight among those unable or unwilling to invest in real assets thereby limiting financial resources that would have been made available for financial intermediation. Coupled with this was the declining inflow of resources to African countries since the 1980s.

A viable financial market can serve to make the financial system more competitive and efficient. Without equity markets, companies have to rely on internal finance through retained earnings. Large and well established enterprises, in particular the local branches of multinationals, are in a privileged position because they can make investments from retained earnings and bank borrowing while new indigenous companies do not have easy access to finance. Without being subjected to the scrutiny of the marketplace, big firms get bigger.

The availability of reliable information would help investors to make comparisons of the performance and long term prospects of companies; corporations to make better investments and strategic decisions; and provide better statistics for economic policy makers. Although efficient equity markets force corporations to compete on an equal basis for the funds of investors, they can be blamed for favouring large firms, suffer from high volatility, and focus on short term financial return rather than long-term economic return.

In various countries where domestic bond markets exist, these are generally dominated by government treasury funding which crowds out the private sector needs for fixed interest rate funding. With minor exceptions, the international fixed rate bond markets have been closed to African corporations. Thus the development of an active market for equities could provide an alternative to the banking system.

The development of financial markets could help to strengthen corporate capital structure and efficient and competitive financial system. The capital structure of firms in Southern African countries where there are no viable equity markets are generally characterized by heavy reliance on internal finance and bank borrowings which tend to raise the debt/equity ratios. The undercapitalization of firms with high debt/equity ratios tends to lower the viability and solvency of both the corporate sector and the banking system especially during economic downturn.

Case studies in selected countries of Southern Africa

In all countries under study, both the historical background, the level of financial system development and the importance of financial markets structure and operations have considerably affected the nature of the regulatory framework. However, there are few countries whose objectives of financial market liberalization were the basis for the development of a modern regulatory system. Mauritius and Botswana are examples which, together with South Africa and Zimbabwe, have developed some of the most developed and diversified financial markets systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. There is no doubt that economic and financial conditions of the economies of individual Southern African countries have played significant roles in shaping their financial market’s regulatory framework.

1. Financial Markets in Botswana

An informal stock market was established in 1989, managed and operated by a private stockbroking firm (Stockbrokers Botswana limited). In 1995, a formal stock exchange was established under the Botswana Stock Exchange Act. The BSE performed remarkably well in terms of the level of capitalization, the value of the shares and the returns to the shares. The BSE contributed to the promotion of Botswana as a destination for international investment.

In 2004, the number of domestic companies listed was 18 while foreign companies listed were 7, and two in the venture capital market. The Bank of Botswana introduced its own paper, BoBCs, since 1991, for liquidity management purposes, and there is a growing secondary market for the instrument. In 1999, the Central Bank introduced an other instruments, the Repos (Re-purchase Agreements) and the National Saving Certificates with the objective to develop local money market and to encouraging savings. In 1998, the International financial Services Centre (IFSC) was established to promote world quality financial services.

2. Financial Markets in Mauritius

The Government of Mauritius has decided as a priority, to modernize and upgrading the financial system of Mauritius and recently took measures to strengthen the financial sector and to further integrate it with both the domestic economy and the global financial market.
Thanks to a well developed network of commercial domestic banks, offshore banks, non financial institutions and financial institutions, the financial system is one of the most vibrant in the Southern African region.

The Stock Exchange of Mauritius (SEM) started its operations in 1989, with only five listed companies. In 2004, more than 44 companies were listed, and the range of activities has expanded, state-of-art technology is being used in the dealings.

In September 2001, the settlement cycle on the SEM was reduced from five to three days, to be in line with major international stock markets. The short settlement cycle has since helped to improve liquidity and turnover on the market as investors are able to sell their securities three business days after buying the, thus reducing risks and bringing better integration to global markets through strict adherence to international standards.

3. Financial Markets in Mozambique

In 1978, all private banks operating in Mozambique were nationalized and merged into two state owned institutions, the Banco de Moçambique (Central Bank) and the Banco Popular de Desenvolvimento (BPD). After the adoption of a new economic orientation in 1992, the Government implemented an economic reform programme including the financial sector reform. Foreign banks were allowed to invest in Mozambique and the regulatory and commercial activities of the Central Bank BDM were separated. Banco de Moçambique assumed the Central Bank function while Banco Comercial de Moçambique BCM led the commercial banking sector.

The financial sector liberalisation policy allowed new institutions. Apart from the already operating Standard Bank, new banks licensed since 1992 or resulting from liquidation of existing institutions include the Banco Internacional de Moçambique, the Banco Comercial de investimentos, Banco de Fomento, Banco Austral, African Banking Corporation ABC, BMI, UCB, ICB, Novo Banco, etc. There are also investment banks, leasing companies and credit cooperatives. This increased number of financial and non financial institutions resulted in the development of an active financial sector.

In October 1999, the stock market of Mozambique (Bolsa de Valores de Moçambique BVM) was inaugurated. Its regulatory agency is the Central Bank BDM and its operations are still limited. With the technical support of the Johannesburg Securities Exchange JSE and the Lisbon Stock Exchange, plans are underway to develop an international financial services centre, including a state-of-the art information technology system.

4. Financial Markets in Namibia

The Namibian Stock exchange NSX is governed by the Stock Exchange Control Act of 1985. Amendments to the Act have been recently adopted in order to bring the national laws in line with international standards.

The NSX was established in October 1992 and is the most technically advanced bourses in Africa, and also one of few self regulated financial markets in Southern Africa. The Namibian Stock exchange Association, a self regulatory, non profit organization, is the custodian of the license to operate the NSX. It approves listing applications, licenses stockbrokers and operates the trading, clearing and settlement of the exchange. Since 1998, the NSX has used the most technically advanced management tools available on the continent, which enable better surveillance and detailed client protection.

5. Financial Markets in South Africa

The South African Financial Markets system is the most sophisticated and complex with the vibrant Johannesburg Securities Exchange (JSE), the Bond Exchange of South Africa (BESA) and the and the South Africa Futures Exchange (SAFEX).

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange JSE was established in November 1887. Currently, it is governed by the Stock Exchanges Control Act of 1985 [amended in 1998 and 2001]. The JSE is the largest stock exchange in Africa and has a market capitalization of more than 10 times that of all the other African markets combined. The JSE provides technical support and capacity building, skills and information to the following exchanges in the region: Namibia, Mozambique, Mauritius, Tanzania and others in Africa (Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt, Uganda and Kenya). Since 1999, the JSE harmonized its listing requirements with the stock markets of Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The BESA was licensed in may 1996 under the Financial Markets Control Act of 1989 [amended in 1998], and the SAFEX was established in 2001 as a Financial Derivatives Market and agricultural Products division of the JSE.

In June 1996, the JSE introduced the fully automatic electronic trading system known as Johannesburg Equities Trading (JET) and since May 2002, is using the Stock Exchange Trading System (SETS).

6. Financial Markets in Swaziland

The Swaziland Stock Market (SSX) was established in 1990 to promote local investment opportunities. In 2002, five companies were listed. The SSX has developed new listing requirements in line with new international regulatory standards. A new security Bill has been approved in 2002, and should be in force by now. It will allow the licensing and regulation of all securities markets, operations and participants.

7. Financial Markets in Tanzania

The Dar-Es-Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) was incorporated in September 1996 under the Capital Markets and Securities Act of 1994. Its operations however did not start until April 1998 with the listing of the first company. In October 2002, foreign companies were allowed to operate on the DSE. Its regulatory agency is the Capital markets and securities Authority (CMSA). Plans are underway to facilitate the securing of increased financial resources from global markets.

8. Financial Markets in Zambia

The Lusaka Stock Exchange (LuSE) was created in February 1994 under the 1993 securities Act. It is controlled by the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC). Its operations were boosted by the successful issue of the Zambian Breweries, which raised up to US $ 8.5 million to refinance a loan secured for the acquisition of the Northern Breweries in 1998. Most of the listings were the result of the country’s privatization program.

A Commodity Exchange, the Agricultural Credit Exchange was also established in 1994, as an initiative of the Zambia National Farmers’ Union, after the liberalization of the prices of agricultural commodities. The Exchange provides a centralized trading facility for buyers and sellers of commodities and inputs. It provides also updated prices and some market information for both local and international markets.

9. Financial Markets in Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange ZSE, is one of the oldest and most vibrant stock exchanges in Africa. It was established in 1890, but had sporadic trading until 1946. In 2002, it had 76 listed companies. The ZSE operates under the Stock exchanges act, which is being amended to take into consideration new technological requirements and to align its contents with international standards (improve the security of share trading, transparency, central depository system, etc.).

The ZSE is open to foreign investors, who can purchase up to 40 percent of the equity of listed company, a single investor can purchase a maximum of 10 percent of the shares on offer. Foreign investors can invest on the local money market up to a maximum of 25 percent per primary issue of government bonds and stocks, and a single investor can acquire a maximum of 5 percent. Foreign investors are however not allowed to purchase from the secondary market. These investments qualify for 100 percent dividend and interest remittance.

Financial Markets Regulation in Southern Africa: which way ahead ?

The major issue in financial market regulation lies in the fact that the legal and institutional framework of most countries is still inadequate to support modern financial processes. Examples of such inadequacy include outdated legal systems leading to poor enforcement of laws. The following challenges are very interesting for further research opportunities.

A cohesive and comprehensive legal framework is required under the proactive approach in order to use the contracts that clearly define the rights and obligations of all intervening operators. Such a framework should encourage discipline and timely enforcement of contracts, fostering responsibility and prudent behavior on both sides of the financial transactions. Prudent and efficient financial intermediation cannot operate without reliable information on borrowers, and some legislation on accounting and auditing standards, which also ensures honesty on the part of financial institutions, Similarly, for a country’s financial markets to develop and operate efficiently, legislation should fully incorporate rules of trading, intermediation, information disclosure, take-overs and mergers.

Because of the role of financial institutions and markets in the development of a sound financial system, additional legislation is normally needed for their operations to complement company law. These are prudential regulations, especially for banks and similar financial institutions that hold an important part of the money supply, create money and intermediate between savings and investment. Company law is an example of the kind of legislation needed. It not only governs the operations of business enterprises but also protects the interests of company stakeholders. Thus, public disclosure of information on the company’s activities should be made mandatory on company management in the appropriate section of the Companies Act. Such information, especially that relating to finance and accounting, should also be statutorily required to be subsequently verified and attested to by auditors.

Prudential regulations cover such issues as criteria for entry (listings), capital adequacy standard, asset diversification, limits on loans to individuals, permissible range of activities, asset classification and provisioning, portfolio concentration and enforcement powers, special accounting, auditing and disclosure standards adapted to the needs of the banks to ensure timely availability of accurate financial information and transparency. The objective is to enhance the safety and soundness of the financial system.

There is real need for an important legislation relating to financial markets which require not only favorable policies but also legal and institutional infrastructure to support their operations, prevent abuses and protect investors. Investors’ confidence is critical to the development of the markets. Brokers, underwriters, and other intermediaries who operate in these markets therefore have to follow laid down professional codes of conduct embodied in the legislation applicable to such institutions as finance and insurance companies, mutual funds and pension funds.

An other important issue is the independence of regulatory authority, their number and the option to establish self-regulatory agency. All these aspects should take into account the objectives and principles defined by the government, and also the specific development needs in the financial system.

A major challenge concerning the Financial Markets in the Southern African region is the harmonization of the national financial regulation and the compliance with international requirements, including the SADC criteria and the international standards set by international organizations such as the International Organization of securities Commissions (IOSCO), the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC), the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) and the obligations resulting from the WTO Agreement on financial Services (GATS). These key international instruments are starting to be enforced and individual countries have to keep updating their financial markets regulations and upgrade the technical skills of their staff in charge of regulatory and supervisory operations.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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The author, is a lecturer and an International Consultant in Trade and Investment, Director of InterConsult Mozambique and is the Representative of Emerging Market Focus (Pty) in Mozambique. This insight paper is aimed at advising investors and business people involved in international trade by providing them with accurate legal data on the institutional and legal framework of Mozambique and the Southern African region.

Financial Planning – A Fascinating Career Option

Dreaming about a career that gives you a secure job, fame, money, career growth and satisfaction? A career as a financial planner can be your ideal career option. As a financial planner you need to work with numbers and with people. A course in financial planning teaches you how to save, spend and invest intelligently.

History of Financial Planning

The financial service sector has come a long way since the last decade. Earlier there were distinct divisions within the industry such as banks, brokers, agents, mutual fund agents and so on. So an individual needed to go to the bank for taking loans, consult brokers for investments. Mutual funds were a completely different sector.

This made people long for a holistic approach towards financial planning. There was need for planning for children’s education, retirement, emergencies etc. Thus, financial planning, a relatively young profession, emerged.

Professional financial planning takes a holistic approach towards managing an individual’s financial resources. Financial planners make recommendations for growing and preserving wealth, minimizing tax, retirement benefits, insurance, investment planning – and more, depending on the client’s financial status.

Financial Planning – an Overview

“Financial Planning is the process of managing the financial resources of an individual in a manner that helps him save and invest wisely.” As a financial planner you need to interact with people and find out about their needs.

Based on each individual’s financial strength, you will need to plan for their savings, taxes, retirement planning, investments and so on. Financial Planning equips you to create a comprehensive strategy to manage the financial resources.

A good financial planner has a deep understanding of investments, taxes, retirement issues, insurance, benefits and more. One of the most important assets of a financial planner is the ability to listen.

Job Profile

A Financial Planner helps his clients figure out their financial needs and work out a strategy to fulfill those needs. The various responsibilities include:

Defining client-planner relationship
Establishing the client-planner relationship
Gathering data for clients
Analyzing the financial resources
Evaluating client’s financial status
Developing and presenting Financial Planning Strategies
Reviewing of Financial strategies
Implementing the strategy
Monitoring the growth level of funds
Giving advice about investment and savings

Financial planners need to constantly interact with advisors, attorneys, accountants, trust officers, investment bankers, and tax officers.

Financial planning is an intensive research-based and stressful profession. Many financial planners device comprehensive plans for their clients, handle a specific interest and financial goal, planning for retirement, buying a home, investments, taxes etc.

A financial planner uses questionnaires and personal interviews to put together a client profile. The profile includes details on major issues like financial objectives, current income, investments, risk, expenses, tax returns, insurance coverage, retirement programs, estate plans, inheritance, benefits and more.

Educational Qualifications

Though no formal criterion is set for becoming a financial planner, a bachelor’s degree in business administration, accounting, statistics or finance is considered good. An in-depth knowledge of statistics, economics, accounting procedures, budgeting, financial analysis and business is essential.

Interpersonal Skills

A qualified financial planner, apart from being knowledgeable should also have certain basic interpersonal skills:

He/She should be a good listener
Self-confident, mature and understanding
Should be able to work independently
Ability to work under pressure
Diplomatic & energetic
Good conversational skills

Career Prospects

The US News and World Report rate the career of a financial planner as one of the ten top-most professions today.

Increased investments by businesses and individuals are expected to result in faster-than-average employment growth for financial planners through 2012. In addition, quality of life has improved and people have started planning about retirement.

Financial planners can earn in several ways. Some in the form of fees charged to individual clients, some earn commissions on the investments; some receive a salary from their employer. However, a qualified planner can earn by all three of these ways i.e. a combination of fees, commission and salary.

Salaries for financial planners can vary widely, from $18,000 for entry-level planners to $1,20,000 for established ones. According to a recent financial survey, certified financial planners are earning average salaries of around $70,000 per year.