Investing over the long haul

Theodore May
4 Min Read

CAIRO: “Integrity, integrity, integrity, that’s what defines HC Securities and Investment, said its Executive Director of Asset Management Omar Radwan.

Many may find it refreshing that a tough banker, navigating his portfolios through the often-turbulent waters of the Egyptian economy, would put forth integrity as his firm’s top selling point.

But it fits perfectly with his multi-pronged approach to building the trust of the client-base.

Marketing, Radwan proudly asserted, has rarely been a part of HC’s strategy. Instead, integrity, client relationships, and portfolio performance drives clients to the firm.

It is clear that Radwan, who speaks succinctly and purposefully, is proud to let his firm’s actions speak louder than words.

Radwan, who worked as a portfolio manager for EFG-Hermes, held the position of fund manager for the Atlas Investment Group before joining HC in 2005.

“We have a very good reputation, said Radwan of his firm, “if not the best reputation. In this business, we are managing money for other people, and it is very important that we gain their confidence.

To help HC maintain that reputation, Radwan argued, getting in at the ground level, in the early to mid-90s, when the market really began to take shape, was critical.

He believes, though, that selling the concept of banking to an often-skeptical public is a task that has been ongoing since he entered the market in the 1990s.

“Neither individuals, nor institutions with money are comfortable yet with fully committing to the markets, he said, “and this is something that we drastically need to change.

HC Asset Management splits the funds it handles equally between two services: mutual funds and portfolio management. Though it deals with wealthy individual investors, its focus is on institutional investors.

The firm handles four different funds, intended to best cater to the needs of the client. It offers an all-equity fund as its riskiest portfolio; a fixed-income, money market fund for the most conservative investors; a balanced product that invests both in equities and fixed income; and an Islamic equity product.

The last year, noted Radwan, has shown particular volatility in the equity markets, beginning with a major rush on the markets in the first half and then a major sell-off in recent months.

Radwan, however, said developing markets will go through periods of economic volatility, so clients should be committed to longer term investments that are better able to weather short-term storms.

“Our clients, he said, “should realize that it’s a long-term thing. If you are an investor who is willing to employ a professional to manage your money, then you’re probably in there for some time. You’re not in there for a couple of months.

Furthermore, it is best to structure a portfolio when markets have settled at a lower value, he said.. It is important to set up funds in anticipation of a surge in market value.

Radwan has a bullish outlook for the markets, though like any good asset manager he is loathe to engage too heavily in speculation.

Government regulation of the money markets, he said, is moving in the right direction. The rise of regulatory agencies, he noted, has meant more effective policing of the markets.

With a somewhat stabilized market, a burgeoning investment industry, and improving government regulations, Radwan is confident in the future of the Egyptian market.

“The market has lost, from peak to bottom, 35 percent, he said. “This is the best time to start investing.

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