Zimele Asset Management Company is the latest entrant into the unit trusts market. It has been licensed to operate two unit trust schemes — the balanced and money market funds and joins a growing list of companies already operating in the market. “This is our contribution to broadening the choices of investment opportunities in the public, which target the common citizen,” said Mr Sammy Muvelah, investment manager, Zimele Asset Management.
Offers for unit trusts schemes are picking up, as people seek safer investment channels, more exposure to direct share buying or buying of credit papers. The oldest schemes in the market are offered by the Old Mutual Fund Manager and African Alliance. British-American Equity Fund, managed by British-American Asset Managers (BAAM) launched in April 2005 and comes third in line. Stanbic Bank and Commercial Bank of Africa launched their schemes in the last quarter of 2006.
Unit trusts are regulated and licensed by the Capital Markets Authority (CMA), who are the financial market regulators and Retirement Benefit Authority (RBA), retirement regulator. “Kenyans are known to be heavy investors and have been investing for long. What is changing is the form in which we are holding our investments,” added Mr Muvelah. But unlike other unit trusts in the market, Zimele does not come with an entry barrier. To invest in Old Mutual and CBA, one needs a minimum entry amount of Sh500,000, while BAAM requires Sh250,000. African Alliance requires Sh100,000. “We have taken investing in unit trusts to another level. We are willing to accommodate anyone who wants to invest in unit trusts,” says Mr Anthony Njuguna, head of investment at Zimele. “Zimele will not be asking for an initial entry amount, and will leave it for an individual investor or investors to decide the level they want to start at.”.
“This will allow people to turn investment decisions to action,” he adds. It will also use the schemes to launch its presence in the retail market, since commencing operation in 1998. Zimele has been operating as a fund manager and management contractor. It is also planning to launch Zimele Personal Pension, which targets organisations with a small number of employees.. “It should be out by end of the month,” adds Mr Njuguna. As a safeguard, unit trust managers are by law expected to publish the daily price of the schemes in at least two national newspapers in English. This is expected to help investors evaluate performance of their investments and make informed decisions.