Interview: Nadia Munawar, Group Head Corporate Communication, JS Group

Apr 23 - 29, 2007

Nadia Munawar Siddiqui, Group Head Corporate Communication JS Group, is basically responsible to look after marketing, product launch, media campaign, media relations and investment relations, yet she has a command over the core business of asset management.

Hence, her department takes care of overall activities of JS Group to ensure and protect the interest of both the investors and her group.

Nadia told Pakistan & Gulf Economist in an interview that JS Group enjoys the top position in asset management in the country, which is indicated from the size of the total assets of over Rs23.5 billion possessed by her group.

"In a way it also indicates the confidence reposed by the investors in the professional capability of our asset managers".

Nadia says with a sense of achievement that JS Group is innovative in a sense that it introduced funds to certain segments of the economy, while it takes care of each and every individual to cater to their needs in accordance with the financial profile of the intended investors.

Credit goes to JS Group for launching Pakistan's first private equity fund earlier this year with JS Group as a major investor and the track record attracting a number of other investors as well, which include IFC, DCD, Samba Financial Group and Global Investment House. The investment activities of the group are carried out through this equity fund, which also completed the transition process from a conglomerate into a private equity fund management group, she observed.

Before our arrival in the market basic products were available to the investors like fixed income funds or equity based products. We were the first to launch guaranteed fund and introduce different products in accordance with the needs of specific and particular clients catering to the needs of the economy.

"This year we are coming out with three more products for which we have applied for licenses, yet SECP has yet to grant permission hence at this stage we cannot identify these forthcoming products because it is a legal issue," she mentioned.

When asked to elaborate the difference between an open-end fund and closed-end fund, Nadia said that an open end fund is not listed with the stock market, there is no cap on the fund size and one can keep on buying on open-end fund and take out his money whenever he desires so, hence there is no bar on putting money in an open-end fund. While a closed-end fund is listed on stock market and it is like another equity fund. We have to offer IPO of a certain size and we would exceed to that declared size of fund. Actually, the nature of mutual fund is a product for investment which is not meant for day trading; it can never be a short-term investment and it has to be a long-term investment to reap the benefits of the mutual fund investment. At present JS has five funds listed with stock market.

Regarding Islamic mode of financing and Islamic fund, she was of the view that Islamic Finance has tremendous potential as she didn't see any problem in making profit through Islamic Finance. "We see a lot of success stories internationally where Islamic Finance has featuring prominently as compared to regular financing and a lot of interest is being generated in Pakistan in this regard and that is why a number of Islamic banks are coming up in our country." JS also launched Dow Jones shares Islamic Index last year and then subsequently the Index Fund which was the product on the index itself.

"We had a massive market response not only within the country but also abroad, especially from UK where people are interested in Islamic products being managed by JS, which indicates that the market is not alone in Pakistan and you can market it in the Middle East as well."

Actually, a lot depends on the profile of an investor, for example, "we are trying to create a fund for each and every individual in the market keeping in view the financial profile of the intended investor."

Recently, the Pakistan Credit Rating Agency (PACRA) has assigned a 5-Star fund rating in the Balanced Fund Category to Unit Trust of Pakistan (UTP), which reflects its superior performance as compared to its peers. The rating is a composite measure of two factors, namely a) returns, and b) risk associated with the returns measured by Sharp Ratio.