CDC: AN ENDEAVOR TOWARDS PAPERLESS ENVIRONMENT
OFFERS SECURITY TO ISSUERS AND CONVENIENCE TO SHAREHOLDERS
SHABBIR H. KAZMI
May 28 - June 3, 2012
At present, almost all the trades conducted at the three stock exchanges in Pakistan are settled in a paperless environment. Therefore, it may be said that the objective for which Central Depository Company of Pakistan (CDC) was established has been achieved.
At present, more than 50,000 investor accounts are being maintained with the CDC. There is a general perception that retail investors have taken an exit from equities market but the fact is that the number of accounts has increased since 2008. However, the number has remained low due to very smaller investor base in Pakistan.
The surge in trading volumes that happened in mid 2000s was managed efficiently by CDC. The company also transformed the cumbersome process of subscribing for physical shares at the time of IPOs into a convenient, hassle free and cost effective process. Thereby, now investors who opted for scripless securities get the subscribed shares deposited in their CDC accounts being ready for trade as soon as the allotment is completed by the issuer.
CDC's contribution in the development of the capital market has been enormous. Since the commencement of business nearly 15 years ago, CDC has launched a number of services that have completely changed the landscape of the market, giving Pakistan a prominent presence on the capital market map of the world. In fact, CDC is referred to as the backbone of Pakistan's capital market.
Cognizant of the needs of the market and its inherent strength, CDC has launched share registrar services. The essence of the effort is to change the attitude with respect to service to shareholders thereby cultivating more investors and encouraging them to actively participate in the market activities. Factors that encourage issuers to select CDC's share registrar services include due attention to the needs of the issuers and the shareholders. Other benefits include qualified and trained staff, toll free call center, and branch network in all major cities. More importantly, the credibility that CDC's brand name carries assures issuers of CDC's commitment to the business and its improvement.
There has been a sea change in the workings of the capital market since CDC became operational in 1997. Development of the Pakistani capital market is one of the core aims of CDC and it has played a vital role in transformation to paperless environment. Processes that were spread over weeks or even months have been reduced to a mere click. It is heartening to note that Pakistan capital market is as advanced as any other market in the region on the basis of infrastructure and capacity.
However, CDC management still believes that there are areas, which are hampering the pace of progress and require improvement. One such area is balloters/share registrar/transfer agent (RTA) services, which are some of the most important services required by a capital market in any country or region. Belonging to a sector of secondary importance, these services reflected a huge gap between the requirements of issuers and their shareholders and the services being delivered by the service providers.
Realizing the need for services that are beneficial for both issuers and shareholders on the lines of universal best practices, CDC acted proactively and launched share registrar services in 2008 as a composite package that not only serves the best interest of issuers but also provides maximum comfort to their shareholders that too in market competitive cost.
Perhaps, it is now time to change industry's mindset towards the significance of shareholders in the market. The services and the treatment shareholders desire from a share registrar can play a vital role in revitalizing their trust. Therefore, issuers should choose the RTA services that provide to shareholders easy access, timely response of their queries, friendly environment and hassle free dealings. Such consciousness will go a long way in promoting investment culture in the country.
Apart from providing traditional RTA and balloting facilities, CDC's registrar services come with added features that have been previously ignored by other RTA service providers. The benchmarking features of CDC share registrar services (SRS) include
CDC's customer support services are supported by state-of-the-art customer convenient system, (CCS) which includes a highly equipped call centre facility and efficient complaint management system. This enables the customer support staff to track and resolve issues faced by shareholders located throughout Pakistan and abroad as well. The toll free number facilitates the shareholders to register their queries/complaints or get an update on their previously registered queries.
CDC is among the first few Pakistani companies that have established a comprehensive business continuity program (BCP). The program is supported by backup sites and disaster recovery capabilities to ensure continuity of service to clients and security of their information. Periodic drills are conducted to ensure seamless efficiency of the program.
SHARE ACCOUNTING SYSTEM & IT SUPPORT
CDC boasts one of the most sophisticated IT infrastructures in Pakistan, which is backed by an in-house IT department. Keeping in mind the issues and scenarios shareholders may face, a share accounting system with an exclusive authority and security management system and workflow components have been developed to guarantee efficient registrar services.
PROFESSIONALISM & COMPLIANCE
To assist issuers and their shareholders, CDC has employed highly professional, qualified and experienced personnel. CDC share registrar services are also supported by independent Legal and internal audit functions, which ensure statutory and regulatory compliance on a day-to-day basis.
To facilitate shareholders in all major cities of Pakistan, CDC has a countrywide branch network covering Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad. CDC offices have vast public dealing areas, pleasant office environment, and queue management system. Each branch is equipped with a computerized mailing system, which ensures efficient communication with the shareholders. The shareholders have the convenience to walk into our branch network where registrar counters with dedicated staff are available.
CDC has gone a long way since starting CDC share registrar services in 2008 and has become a sizeable player of this industry. Its clientele today includes some of the major corporations of Pakistan and it is confident that considering the incremental value, the service is being offered at a very discounted and competitive price, and bound to be the leading service in times to come.