H. Pierson Associates, is a boutique-consulting firm with seasoned professionals with varied experiences in both the private and public sectors. The firm has been in operation for over 28 years, playing a leading role in providing consulting and capacity building solutions in various sectors of the economy. In this interview, Cathy Patterson, who is a Director in the firm advises President Muhammadu Buhari to focus on the power sector and technology in the next four years. Obinna Chima presents the excerpts:
What is your take on the trade war between US and China and how best do you think it can it be resolved?
Well, I think there is truly an issue with the theft of intellectual property by China and I believe that the United States is taking a dangerous position in escalating this potential trade war. I think that there hasn’t been given sufficient thought to the global effect and I think that it could easily spiral out of control and could cause a worldwide recession. In resolving, I think we need to return to traditional routes of resolving trade dispute. We have established channels and protocols in international bodies which this matter can go and be resolved in equitable way without risking the economies of some many countries.
We have seen the first six months of 2019, if you look back what will you say were the key trends that have shaped the global capital market during that period?
I think there is a lot of anxiety in the market particularly Iran, Brexit and around this potential of trade wars. And so I think that there is a lot of there is a lot of capital on the sidelines and there is an anticipation of a global slowdown. So I think it has been a cautious six months.
You just said there is a lot of capital on the sideline for the remaining six months of the year how best do you think investors should play to take advantage of the opportunities in the market?
I think one should remain cautious at this point because I think the China situation should resolve itself or at least show the direction it is going within the next 90 days. Meaning that it is going to either escalate or be prolonged or something will be worked out. With Brexit, no one knows.
What is your take on the Nigerian capital market?
I think that the Nigerian capital market has continued to mature and expand in terms of their depth of products. And the development of their depth of training and trading knowledge. I am very excited about fact that the medium term is expanding and there is less reliance on short term debt and that the array of offerings has become more divers. I think it is a maturing capital market.
Talking about maturity, we recently saw a major listing on that market, MTN, one of the biggest telcos in Nigeria and another telco has also indicated plan to list, what is your take on that?
Well, MTN is such a large player not just in telecoms but also as part of the family, I think that it will have a large impact on the market.
There has been this debate about Nigeria’s debt being too high, that we are borrowing too much, some even said we are in a debt trapped. What is your opinion about Nigeria’s debt profile?
There has always been a debate among the various school of thought economically over how do you work ones’ self out of a recession. Is it based on aggressive borrowing to fill the market or with that weight of the debt press the country? I believe that a stimulus is required when the when the capital market is not operating at its peak.
How best do you think Nigeria can stimulate growth, we have been growing now at about two per cent for some years now? What do you think should be done to boost economic growth in Nigeria?
We know that power has always been the key, so once we get issues in the power sector sorted the economy will take off. I think that expansion of mid-range access to capital flow, midterm debt will help companies in terms of their stability in growth, having access to the capital market as opposed to the short term debt at reasonable rate.
Hpierson I learnt is 29 years this year, can you just share some of the success stories with us?
I think the key to each person success is in mind set, it not only has recreated itself over and over again but its helps its clients to really think through the disruptive elements that they face in their individual markets and how to properly assess the risk that they face in the proper mindset to ensure future growth by establishing the best practices and by being on the cutting edge of their industries.
I know there are several other firms in your sector offering similar services like Hpierson. What are those unique selling points that distinguishes HPierson from others?
Each person has continuing being at the top of the league tables in the industry. It also by the very near fact that it has been 29 years in the market and has excelled consistently. It produces a consistently superior product; it has excellent relationships with its clients. It goes to the next level and anticipates its needs because it is very client centric oriented. And it has diversified itself into expanding industry. So it has stayed close to the virgin growth market in Nigeria. And it also been equally good at providing high quality advise not only to the private sector but to the public sector, both at the state and at the federal government level.
What are the medium-term plans for your firm in Nigeria, especially in terms of expansion?
I think one of the challenges is to make sure that on the technology side, that both private and public sector take the necessary steps to make sure that they operate effectively as the impact of this information technology age continues to transform not only the Nigerian economy but the world economy. And it is not just having access to data is about how do you use the various emerging technology to project yourselves into the market and to make a significant long lasting effect.
What message do you have for your clients in Nigeria?
I think bright days are here and Nigeria is clearly the economic engine of Africa. It will continue to dominate and its future is so bright. Sometimes it is hard to see that you are emerging from a severe recession. I have been visiting here since 1983 and sometimes when someone doesn’t live in the environment every day, they can’t see the dramatic changes that are occurring. And I think that Nigeria has come a long way in the last 40 years but that it’s futures is so bright. Because it is pulling together all the elements that it needs to succeed.
If you are to advise President Muhammadu on key areas he should focus on in the next four years, what will those areas be?
The economy and technology