Belgian group 'zooms in' on Zimbabwe

HARARE – Belgian-based financial consultancy and investment firm deVere Group (deVere) plans to strengthen its foothold in Zimbabwe after cutting ties with Tetrad Investment Bank (Tetrad).

Last week, the group, with an office in the capital Harare, announced it was seeking local financial advisors to manage its clientele in the country.

deVere ? which in January severed its two-year relationship with Tetrad after the latter indicated plans to transform into a commercial bank ? says it has noticed an increase in the number of high net-worth individuals across Africa, including Zimbabwe.

Craig Featherby, deVere’s head of Africa operations, said the continent’s natural resources and commodities have caught the attention of large multi-national players who have been trickling into various African markets over the past few years.

“We are now seeing a dramatic shift towards the local population,” he said, adding that Zimbabwean investors “were looking for more”.

“They are looking for better opportunities, they are looking to engage in the international markets, and therefore they are looking for an international broker that can take them there,” said Featherby.

In September 2010, deVere — one of the world’s largest independent financial consultancy firms ? entered into a strategic alliance with Tetrad in a bid to tap the southern African region.

However, after the termination of its contract with Tetrad, the group is now hoping to reach out to new clients in Zimbabwe by offering them access to a broad range of services that complement the service they received from Tetrad. deVere has been steadily expanding across sub-Saharan Africa since it first entered the continent five years ago.

Featherby noted that when deVere first entered Africa, 90 percent of their high net-worth clients were expatriates.

However, while the group’s clients are now roughly 60 percent expatriates and 40 percent local, Featherby reckons that in two years this will shift the other way round, in favour of local clients. In the past five years, Featherby has spearheaded deVere’s expansion across seven markets in Africa, including South Africa, Botswana, Angola, Mozambique, Uganda, Ghana and Zimbabwe ? with plans to open 10 more offices across the continent over the next five years.

“We believe that Africa represents truly the last sizeable investment opportunity for international investors.

“We believe that Africa is where the Far East was 25 years ago… the next 25 years is really going to be a lot of fun,” he said.

With funds under management in excess of $9 billion, deVere has more than 70 000 clients in over 100 countries.

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