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“CDC providing reliable and smooth services to its clients,” Mr. Badiuddin Akber, CEO – CDC, highlights in his interview

“CDC providing reliable and smooth services to its clients,” Mr. Badiuddin Akber, CEO – CDC, highlights in his interview

1. What role does CDC play in Pakistan Capital Market?

CDC, as the sole securities depository of Pakistan, serves as the core infrastructure institution of our Capital Market. CDC’s foundation was laid in the early 1990s, when a huge increase in trading volumes made physical handling of paper-based shares / certificates a laborious and time consuming task. Introducing scripless form of securities settlement in Pakistan had become a necessity. CDC was thus established to operate a Central Depository System (CDS), which transformed how stock changed hands in Pakistan’s Capital Market by introducing an electronic book entry form for handling and transfer of securities. Currently, CDC is entrusted with maintaining assets worth PKR 4.7 trillion and our depository system is the underlying framework supporting the average daily trading of securities worth millions of rupees on Pakistan Stock Exchange.

Moreover, CDC, as an institution, ensures transparency of processes and reliability of mechanisms in the settlement cycle. This is done by establishing efficient collaboration between market institutions, regulator and the investor and safeguarding interests of all stakeholders, especially the investors. It inevitably translates into increased investor confidence in Pakistan’s Capital Market.

Our role is not only limited as a depository but also includes Investor Account Services (IAS) and Direct Settlement Services (DSS) for safeguarding the interests of investors. In 2002, we began our Trustee and Custodial Services through which we, as market leaders, provide secured and convenient service to over 96% of the mutual funds industry. Our Fund Management System (FMS) is an in-house developed state-of-the-art system, enabling straight through processing for the Mutual Fund industry. In 2008, we initiated the provision of our Share Registrar Services to facilitate issuers and their shareholders. Another such service, Centralized Information Sharing Solution for Insurance Industry (CISSII), caters to the needs of Insurance Industry by offering an information sharing platform. The launch of CISSII is the first phase in the implementation of an Insurance Repository, which will lead to complete dematerialization of insurance policies and maintenance of historical records, thereby ensuring high level of transparency and efficiency in the industry.

2. In Pakistan, there is a general lack of confidence with regards to investment in Capital Market. What measures has CDC taken to address this issue?

The lack of confidence in the Capital Market basically stems from a lack of awareness. CDC goes to great lengths to ensure that both existing & potential investors have comprehensive and adequate knowledge about Capital Market operations and risk management & security measures in place for investor asset protection. For this purpose, we conduct nationwide Investor Awareness Seminars and Financial Literacy Workshops and arrange Capital Market Expos. These events help educate the public regarding different Capital Market Investment avenues and encourage participation from the public to raise their queries and eliminate misconceptions regarding the industry.
Furthermore, CDC takes pride in being the Ultimate Custodian and our core priority is to ensure investor asset protection, which inevitably translates into investors’ trust and confidence in Capital Market. Several different measures have been taken over the years in this regard.

As the first step to mitigate risks associated with custody of shares with brokers, we introduced Investor Account Services (IAS) and Direct Settlement Services (DSS). IAS allows retail investors to directly open an account with CDC and have direct access to their book-entry securities. The account is maintained by CDC and operated only upon written instructions of the investor. Our value added services under the CDC Access umbrella, which are available for both IAS and broker sub accounts, include regular updates to account holders and the facility to perform online transactions, such as rights subscription, through our web portal and CDC’s mobile application, thereby providing them greater control and ease.

Taking things one step forward, we launched DSS which is designed to provide an alternative settlement mechanism to the investors through a trusted and reliable institution. The service promotes investor confidence in the capital market by guaranteeing that they are aware and in control of not only their securities but also their cash flow throughout the settlement process. Our Direct Settlement Services also eliminates the need for investors to open a sub account with the Broker.

3. In this age of digital revolution, there is an incumbent need to ensure data security, disaster recovery and business continuity. What measures has CDC taken to address these issues?

CDC is certified with international standards for its Information Security and Business Continuity Management which permit us to offer the highest level of safety and efficiency of service to our clients even in times of distress.

Information Security is the key element of our business model which ensures delivery of reliable and smooth services to our clients. We have an established Information Security Management System (ISMS) through which threats / vulnerabilities are monitored and addressed timely to mitigate risks. All businesses of CDC are certified against globally accepted ISO/IEC 27001:2013 standard for Information Security Management which demonstrates our commitment and focus to safeguard the information critical to the functioning of Pakistan Capital Market. Moreover, we ensure that investors’ assets are well protected in line with internationally recognized best practices.

CDC is certified with the ISO22301:2012 international standard for its Business Continuity Management program. This accreditation is a global endorsement of our readiness to handle a variety of natural and man-made disaster situations in a well-structured manner. It also allows us to identify threats relevant to our business and to plan ahead of time to ensure our business doesn’t come to a standstill in case of an emergency situation.

4. As new CEO, what are your top priorities and future plans for CDC?

CDC’s pivotal role at the forefront of Pakistan’s Capital Market places increased responsibility on me as its new CEO, and I would like to steer the Organization towards unprecedented heights in the Industry by leveraging its strengths. My topmost priorities will include further consolidation of its core focus areas:

a. Information Technology and Enterprise Security: Information Security is the key issue experienced by our financial industry. Living in the 21st century, there is a continuous threat of confidential data being compromised. Information security is the seam that secures and assists the flow of information and valuable data, contributing greatly to the credibility and success of every business, especially financial institutions. Being an organization catering to public interest, CDC wants to further strengthen its Information Security Governance and keep abreast with the adoption and upkeep of International Best Practices in this regard.

b. Investor Protection and Awareness: “An informed investor is a safe investor.” CDC has always persevered in building and maintaining investor confidence by providing the highest quality of services focused on investor protection and awareness. We fully understand that investors are the pillars of the financial and securities market, and want to strive even further to raise the bar of our services and excel in our dedication to foster investor confidence, protection and awareness.

c. Further Digitization and Automation to facilitate both internal and external processes: The disruptive nature of technology is pervading every aspect of our lives and changing the way businesses are done. In order to keep up with the pace of this digital transformation, we fully understand that we need to constantly re-invent our processes and strategies to adopt and leverage digital technologies for the most effective ROIs. We will continue to strive further and emulate the international best practices for digitization and automation to facilitate both internal and external (client facing/ cross-institutional) processes and procedures.

In the near future, CDC plans to persevere in increasing its outreach to investors and working further on investor facilitation through initiatives and services such as IPO Facilitation Account and digitization of Zakat Declaration Forms. We plan to plow our efforts towards the dematerialization of all securities (including National Savings) and complete digitization of our services. We are already in the process of implementing & consolidating our Enterprise Risk Management framework and diversifying our service portfolio by introducing novel services and solutions such as trustee and custodial services for developmental REITs and the implementation of an Insurance Repository, which will lead to complete dematerialization of insurance policies.

Further, we are working on the concept of a Land/ Property Repository system for maintaining custody of land/property titles and converting the same into digital (paperless) form which will facilitate transparent transfer of ownership settlements of sale/purchase and leasing/rentals, consequently ensuring credibility to stakeholders and stimulating business growth. We are also working on the provision of trustee services for the Awami Pension Scheme which will include maintaining custody and safekeeping of all assets under the retirement scheme.