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Harvest Group

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Apr 03 - 09, 2000

Established in 1992, Harvest International (Pvt) Limited launched its trading office in Lahore. In 1993, Harvest Topworth International (HE) commenced forex trading from Karachi as a joint venture with Topworth Group of Hong Kong. Over the years HE has grown from a humble forex trading firm into a world class securities and forex brokerage house. Following are excerpts of an exclusive interview with Mohammed Gulraze Mir, Chairman and Chief Executive of Harvest Topworth International.

Q. Would you like to describe the background of your organization?

A. The Harvest Group is an international group of companies established by a joint venture between myself and the Topworth Group of Hong Kong. We specialize in providing financial services to a broad base clientele with focus on foreign currency trading and securities brokerage. First founded in 1992, the Harvest group has grown from a humble forex trading firm in Lahore into a world class securities and forex brokerage house of international standing. With headquarter in Lahore, Harvest Group has established regional office in Karachi, Lahore, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Houston, Phoenix and other U.S. cities.

Q. How would you define spot foreign exchange trading?

A. With international trade, the money of one country is exchanged for that of another for settlement of a transaction. Institutions and corporations often times need a certain currency to complete a transaction or to guard themselves from the effect of currency rate swings. This system involving the exchange of money has created the Foreign Exchange Market or Forex, or more correctly known as the Global Interbank Currency Exchange Market.

Like securities, precious metal and real estate investments, Foreign Exchange has become a very important tool for the investment community. With over $2 trillion traded daily (compared to $20 to $30 billion a day in the NYSE), this has become by far the largest and most liquid investment in the world.

Q. When did you commence business operation in Pakistan?

A. In February 1992, Harvest International (Pvt.) Limited launched its first trading facility in Lahore, which has progressed and developed into a regional service firm with four branches in the city. In 1993, Harvest Topworth International was founded and a Forex trading centre was established in Karachi which has since achieved tremendous growth. In October 1999, the Harvest group took another important step and acquired a seat in the Lahore Stock Exchange and had became a corporate member, offering stock brokerage service to the Lahore investment community. Today, after consolidation, investors can enjoy one of the best trading facilities in a multinational environment in our Karachi and newly renovated Lahore office.

Q. What is your reckon about the operation in Pakistan?

A. The Harvest Group has established a solid foundation through its participation in the financial market in Pakistan during the past eight years. Through the Group's strong commitment in providing professional service, we have earned impeccable reputation as a leading Spot Currency Trading and Securities Brokerage house.

The next emphasis the Group has committed to, is to educate the general public of Pakistan in the opportunities in both the Forex and securities market, especially the latter. Compared to other developed markets, Pakistan has the least percentage of its population being exposed to these investment opportunities. The Harvest Group will undertake to host seminars, workshops and publishing literature to help spread this knowledge in these most dynamic financial activities.

Q. What is the future of Harvest Group in Pakistan?

A. With the Harvest Group, improvement, innovation and growth never stop. The future with the Harvest Group promises far better and wider variety of services. Our goal is to offer more investment products with more trading facilities. For example, we plan to expand our operation into other developed stock markets of the world such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the NASDAQ in the US and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and make trading in these markets available even in Pakistan.

It is also the vision of the Harvest Group to invite investment funds from overseas through our network of offices worldwide to participate in the growing financial markets in Pakistan. Institutions and Fund Managers worldwide are looking for emerging markets while constructing their investment portfolios.

Q. Would you like to highlight the services you are providing to your clients?

A. The Harvest Group is determined to provide prompt, efficient and comprehensive services to its clients.

With Forex trading in Harvest Topworth International, we offer:

  • 20 hours a day trading facilities.

  • Online connection with major financial service networks for real time market information.

  • A professional research team to publish daily and weekly market bulletins and reports to reflect on market situations.

  • A 24 hours Market Commentary Hotline where update market information is available on a broadcast mode.

  • Daily client statement to report all current trading activities and up-date account balances.

  • Client seminars at the introductory, advanced and professional levels.

  • Customized investment portfolio for individual clients.

Our equity trading firm, Harvest Smartrend Securities (Pvt.) Limited (HSS) provide a wide range of services emphasizing quality, accuracy and timeliness, and above all maximum dependability.

We maintain 2 trading facilities in Lahore, l in the Harvest Group building and the other at room 417 in the LSE building. Both facilities are equipped with the most modern securities trading equipment and financial information system, including the Reuters and Wavetech. HSS is registered with CDC, the Central Depository Company to provide the state-of-the-art electronic system of delivery, withdrawal and settlement of traded securities. Trading is facilitated through the LOTS (Lahore Online Trading System) which has improved both transparency and efficiency manifold as compared to the public outcry system.

HSS also maintains a professional research team which has become very reputable among the securities trading sector. They provide:

  • In-house market briefs by staff researchers.

  • A daily market update.

  • Technical analysis furnished for selected stocks on a daily basis with support and resistant levels for the most popular scripts.

  • Comprehensive fundamental analysis compiled on industries and individual companies.

  • Economic news/reviews presented from time to time in reponse to any significant development in the financial world.

  • Selected recommendations of certain scripts are provided from time to time.

  • A monthly review publication to reflect and report on the past month activities with an outlook at the next month's trends.

  • A stock market hotline providing instant market information and daily quotes.

Q. What is the differential advantage of Harvest Group over other banking saving services?

A. First of all we must point out that we are not a bank nor a deposit taking company — we are a brokerage house that specializes in margin trading in forex and securities trading with the LSE. With Forex trading, we offer a 20 hour day trading time and a normal market spread of only 7 pips. We provide personalized customer service to address individual needs of our clients.

Q. How good did you find the market for your services in Karachi and Lahore?

A. Throughout the 8 years of operation in Pakistan, we have been able to build a reputation of a trusted and dependable firm. We have indulged ourselves to customize impeccable service to our clients. We have put special emphasis on our research department to provide valuable market analysis and commentaries to help clients make more accurate decisions in trading. We receive feed backs from clients and industry professionals alike on the positive impact these commentaries have on their trading. We have become a trend leader in providing professional service in the financial service industry and we are very proud of it.

Q. Do the clients feel comfortable by the trading style you have adopted ?

A. Our firm do not trade for the clients, neither does the account executives who handle the clients accounts unless they receive a discretionary trading instruction from the client. Therefore, we do not have an established trading style per se. However, we do advocate on one principle in trading which is to minimize loss and maximize profit by planning ahead before one enters the market. Clients usually feel comfortable if they do stick to the principle.

Q. What kind of Security do you give to your clients ?

A. With securities trading, we are regulated by the Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), and governed by the rules and regulations of the Lahore Stock Exchange. The background of the principals of the firm were scrutinized during the application for membership with the LSE, and a substantial fee had to be paid to acquire the seat in the exchange. These all ensure we are a strong and solid firm.

With Forex trading, throughtout 8 years of operation in the country, we have proven ourselves to be worthy of a bank only even more convenient. Our customers can withdraw their money anytime of the day in cash during banking hours and most of the time even during non-banking hours. Our customers have been able to withdraw their money in US dollars even during some financial crisis. A lot of our customers still remember seeing one of them with a check of US dollar 1 million from Harvest Topworth International which is his profit from the market.

Q. What is Harvest Smartrend?

A. Harvest Smartrend Securities (Pvt.) Limited (HSS) is the new entrant in the field of equity brokerage in Pakistan. The company has recently acquired a corporate membership (Code # 101) of Lahore Stock Exchange (Guarantee) Limited and commenced its operation on February 2, 2000. Harvest Smartrend Securities (Pvt.) Limited is a registered company in Pakistan that emerged as a result of a joint venture between the Harvest Group of Pakistan and Smartrend International Limited of Hong Kong.

Q. How does Harvest Smartrend Securities (Pvt.) Ltd. differ from other brokerage houses in Pakistan Stock Exchanges?

A. HSS is a full-service equity brokerage house equipped with all modern tools to provide a wide range of quality services to its valued clients, both individual and corporate. Despite the fact that company is in its early stage of operations, it has already built a very strong repute amongst its competitors. HSS possesses the largest facilities in Lahore compared with other brokerage houses. It enjoys the advantage of having two trading facilities in Lahore. One is Room # 417 in the Lahore Stock Exchange Tower and the other one is Harvest Group building. Harvest Group building has the most modern information system and also provides remote trading facility for the clients. HSS has the distinction of being the first brokerage house of Lahore to have 'REUTERS' On-line services for its clients at Harvest Group Building in Lahore. It maintains the online connection with 'REUTERS' financial services round the clock that helps clients to keep an update on the stocks quote plus all the developments on the financial and political front the world over. HSS has acquired two LOTS (Lahore On-line Trading System) terminals. One is lying in the LSE room # 417 and the other one is in Harvest Group building premises. Moreover, HSS is a participant to CDC (Central Depository Company).

Our Customer Services Department is all-set to provide timely execution of orders with accuracy and maximum dependability. Our Accounts Executives keep in touch with clients and update them on current market position and prevailing sentiment in stock market. The order routing at HSS ensures highest level of transparency and swift execution of Buy/Sell orders according to the will of clients. Our Accounts Settlement department provides daily, weekly, and monthly reports of accounts for reconciliation purposes.

We maintain a professional research department, the functions of which I have already answered in your earlier question.

Q. What is the significance of registration with CDC?

A. HSS is a participant to CDC (Central Depository Company) to facilitate its clients in regular settlements and transferring physical shares in the electronic system. It is a centralized system of settlement and clearing in the local stock exchange. This system has provided a speedy and efficient way of weekly clearance for the equity market. Besides that it has helped a lot in boosting the confidence of local investors by minimizing the risk of theft, forgery and duplication of physical shares. As a result investors are now more relaxed and we are witnessing improved business turnover at local bourses.

Q. What is LOTS system and what is its significance?

A. LOTS stands for Lahore On-line Trading System and it consists of computer terminals used by the LSE member to enter their trade orders and see the market movement. All these trading terminals are attached to the main server in the MIS department of LSE. LOTS has replaced the "Out-Cry" system used earlier at Lahore Stock Exchange. It has provided a standardized system of trading and gave a level playing field for the small investors. Modernization of local bourses has really improved the business climate and made equity brokerage a viable business.

Q. What are your future programmes?

A. The Harvest group came to Lahore with an aim to set higher standards in the business and provide maximum benefits to the investors. Lahore is an emerging market and possesses great potential for business growth. The computerized trading and the use of CDS at Lahore Stock Exchange have helped boosting the confidence of investors. So a huge untapped market is out there and Harvest Smartrend is all geared to fully explore it by virtue of innovation and improvement. The mission does not stop here, we have a goal to offer trading facilities with other foreign exchanges especially developed markets including New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), NASDAQ, and Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Q. Who are your global associates/partners?

A. In the era of a global village, a strong partnership/association is a key ingredient of any organization. Harvest Group is proud to be associated with two very strong groups based in the Far East, namely Smartrend International of Hong Kong and Topworth Investments of Macau.

Smartrend International Holdings Ltd., which has a registered capital of US$ 10 million, provides brokerage services for FOREX and Securities trading to its local and worldwide investors through its network of service agents in the United States and the Asia-Pacific region.

Topworth Investments (Macau) Limited (TIL), a member of the Topworth group, is a Foreign Exchange and Bullion Brokerage House with a registered capital of 30 million patacas (equivalent to 3.8 million U.S. Dollars) under the Macau Law to fulfil the requirements of the "Macau Monetary and Bill of Exchange Authority" (Autoridale Monetaria e Cambial de Macau, A.M.C.M.) with the sole objective of safeguarding trust and confidence of the Investors.

In addition, we have other associates in US, Taiwan and Indonesia.

Q. Do your international links help in bringing foreign investment in Pakistan?

A. Obviously, with HSS operating as a member of the Lahore Stock Exchange, we have exposed the investment opportunities in the local stock market to investors worldwide, especially in US and the Far East region. Through this venue, we now have more investors focusing on our emerging markets. It is due to this very fact that Harvest Group is already underway in bringing a telecommunications project to Pakistan, which will be financed by our overseas associates.

Q. What quantum of investment and which particular sectors have been brought into Pakistan?

A. Well! If this question were directly positioned towards Harvest Group and not towards the industry as a whole, then I would say that the Group has actually introduced the concept of foreign exchange trading in the global markets to the investment public in Pakistan. Henceforth, creating awareness about the importance of Foreign Exchange as a hedging tool for safeguarding other investments just like it is being used by all the developed and developing economies of the world. Most important, I would say, we have added the missing part of Pakistan's Financial Services' sector i.e. international brokerage services

Q. What was the immediate reaction of the foreign investors when economic sanctions were imposed on Pakistan?

A. Obviously the initial reaction could be seen in the fall of our foreign reserves, which came down from the billion-dollar mark to millions. That in itself portrayed the overseas investors mentality in general, except a few proactive entities, like the two overseas partners of Harvest Group, who could foresee those sanctions coming in and therefore had prepared themselves for what was to come. It is worth mentioning over here that it is our longstanding partnership and business history in Pakistan that has lead us to identify the potentials lying within Pakistan. Ups and downs are there in every country but the key is to capitalize on the good points with sight for a better future and not to explore the negative aspects that hold temporary repercussions.

Q. What role is being played by Harvest Group in Pakistan's Money and Capital markets?

A. First of all, the investments pouring in through our overseas partners and other associates is adding to the local market liquidity and secondly, with Harvest Smartrend Securities having a foreign orientation of investors is adding to the volume in terms of both capital and turnover in our markets.

Q. How do your reports help in keeping your clients aware about happenings in Pakistan?

A. As mentioned earlier, we have latest hi-tech communications and other information systems, which enable us to get information first hand. The most important thing is that we interpret their effect and pass them on to our customers through various time efficient sources, which have been employed at our research department.

Q. What gives Harvest Group an edge over other players?

A. In the services sector, brokerage in specific, the edge any company may have over the others is to have a strong base of customer services staff, research department and of course the latest technological hardware. Harvest Group is proud to have all this, which very few can match.

Q. What are your future programmes?

A. Our future programmes are very much inline with our goals to develop a strong presence in the major financial markets of the world so that we can deliver a wide range of value added services to our sophisticated clients worldwide. In the near future you shall see Harvest Group bringing other major stock (NASDAQ, NYSE, HANG SENG etc) market investment opportunities to Pakistan besides various diversified investment projects like the telecommunications project we are currently negotiating.