SSL overcoming major challenges under new managementSunday, May 16, 2021
With just over a year under new management, led by Zachary Harding, Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL) is reporting that the business has met and is overcoming some of its major challenges.
SSL, which is the second oldest stock brokerage in Jamaica, has undergone a period of targeted restructuring and has made significant advancements despite the universally challenging business environment. Harding, who was appointed CEO of the SSL Group in September 2019 disclosed that changes made to the company throughout 2020 have ushered in new era of targeted success.
He added that SSL has made strong headway, noting that he joined the company at a critical point where his management team had the opportunity to truly transform the culture, processes, and policies of the investment and brokerage firm. According to the SSL CEO, “adjustments in the company structure have improved our operations, and through decisive action and perseverance, we have reinforced our long-standing commitment to our clients and their futures.”
The management team has welcomed the insights of the Financial Services Commission (FSC) in October 2019 and continues to view them as a crucial partner in shifting SSL into its next evolution.
Harding emphasised, “that under the direction of the FSC they (SSL) have achieved a significant uptick in placement of cash balances. Over the last six months the company's invested cash averaged 66.5 per cent monthly — a combination of timing and calculated foresight. As at April 19, 2021, SSL reported 78 per cent of cash invested. The company has also successfully completed the mandated external audits and remains free to accept cash for brokerage transactions”.
Harding said that a combination of timing and calculated foresight played important roles in the company's pivot. He explained that the new management is treating the company as a global entity with top-of-the-line technology and an expert staff having updated their way of work.
“In January 2020, the company looked at the new realities and retrained staff, which was also done under the updated Disaster and Risk Management Policy, which accounted for both climate change and biological hazards.
”As a result, when the pandemic hit SSL, we were able to achieve a seamless transition to work from home, as tactical preparation made the entity the first institution, even ahead of government, to publicly announce the work-from-home policy that continues to protect the team and its clients today,“ Harding said.
Working digitally improving efficiency
Harding argued that working online has proven to be a useful tool for improving efficiency, adding that “in keeping with an agile vision, we had begun to redefine team roles…working digitally expedites this process by making us more accountable for daily outputs, as productivity is tracked in a more meticulous way. This has rapidly increased our overall efficiency and allowed us to define jobs in ways that are more relevant to our growth targets”.
Remote work is only one of several fundamental changes made by the brokerage last year, as select board members were disengaged.
SSL founder Hugh Croskery was equally elated at SSL's turnaround.
He commented that, “SSL has a strong history, though it is no secret that in 2020 we were coming out of a rocky patch. A business, however, doesn't survive for 48 years by accident. We are a self-aware company, and we were willing to make necessary changes to better serve our clients. In 2019 we began a deliberate evolution process and took a proactive approach in engaging a CEO with a new perspective.”
SSL Board Chairman Jeffrey Cobham spoke to the adjustments made in directorship. He stated that having examined the trajectory of the company, some tough decisions were made, restructuring the board to include members who hold the targeted expertise that supports an evolving investment house.
“As a result, we have been able to refocus on key areas of growth and have increased the efficacy of our oversight.” Among the new additions is Ivan Carter, former chief financial officer of the Sagicor Group, who now adds his professional insights as an SSL director, and also as CEO of sister company Delta Capital Partners (DeltaCap), a private equity firm, the SSL chairman explained.
Formation of DeltaCap in transformative growth strategy
Harding, along with Croskery, founded DeltaCap in July 2020, in keeping with a transformative growth strategy. Harding shares that the new company's portfolio of bespoke investments has created additional revenue streams for the SSL Group. “DeltaCap fosters a wider arena of investments which can be supported by SSL's existing services. While the two companies function separately, the teams interact daily.''
The company's roster of senior managers includes Leslie Prendergast, former senior manager of Transaction Migration at Scotiabank; Janelle Brown, former head of Public Relations/Crisis Intervention at The Limners and Bards Ltd; Andrew Wildish, former business analyst at the Musson Group; Akil Strachan, former senior operations manager at Digicel; and Nicky Franklin Grant, who is former corporate manager for Group Business Process Management at JMMB.
Most recently, SSL welcomed Kenzil King (formerly of First Global Bank) as its new head of commercial.
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