Bullish, too, about Cebu

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Friday, June 6, 2014


BPI Trade, the online stock trading platform of BPI Securities Corp., is confident of growing its investor base in Cebu on the back of the province’s fast growing economy and the presence of a strong business and investor community here.

The firm opened last Monday its Cebu office at the 8th floor of the Ayala-FGU Tower.

“Cebu is one of the fastest growing cities in the Philippines, a major contributor of the strong economic growth in the country. We need to be present here. We want to give access to the Cebuanos to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) because at the end of the day, every Filipino should take advantage of the robust stock market,” said Michaelangelo Oyson, chief executive officer and managing director of BPI Securities Corp. and BPItrade.com.

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Oyson believes the bull market will stay for some time and that Cebu is well positioned to take advantage of the strong performance of the local bourse given the huge pool of Cebuano business owners.

“Participating in the stock market is one way of expressing entrepreneurship,” he said. Oyson added opening an office here is also meant to help the PSE grow the Visayas and Mindanao’s participation in the local bourse, which is still less than one percent.

Awareness needed

BPItrade.com is a fully integrated online trading platform that enables clients to post online orders to the PSE and offers real-time stock market quotes, efficient portfolio management and comprehensive research. BPI Securities is the stock brokerage arm of BPI Capital Corp., wholly-owned by the BPI, an Ayala-led company. It is primarily engaged in the purchase and sale of shares of publicly listed companies in the Philippines.

One factor that hinders the growth of local participation is the lack of awareness.

“Southeast Asian investors and even those outside of Asean are wondering why the local market is not keen and excited about investing in its own stock market. The answer is the lack of awareness. Investing as a concept is not much taught in school. This is a theme that should be cultivated in the educational system,” said Roel Refran, senior vice president and chief operating officer of the PSE.

Keith Corrales, a BPO employee, said he is not interested to invest in the stock market because he doesn’t fully understand what it is.

“The stock market is a word for big companies, the rich, the businessmen, etc. I’m afraid I would gain nothing from it. I think when you invest in this kind of product, you will need a bigger amount of money,” he said. “But I’m open to know more about the stock market.”

Like Corrales, Alfred Compra, a corporate communications lead of a BPO company in Cebu, said investing is not yet his priority.

“I’m not good with business or any investment-related stuff,” Compra said, adding he doesn’t know anyone in their office who invested in the stock market.

Oyson said the online trading platform is open to anyone who wants to build wealth especially that Filipinos can now access the stock market for as low as P1,000.

“The stock market is for anyone who is willing to set aside money to grow over time,” he said. “You can make money in the stock market. Say if you invested P100,000 in 2001 you would have had P23 million last 2013.”

Refran said in terms of participation, it is retail market that is sustaining the ups and downs of the local bourse. He said there could never be a developed market unless retail participation is improved. He said the PSE is looking forward to an increase of participation from the local market as stock brokerage firms expand operations in the Visayas and Mindanao.

According to Oyson, now is the “best time” to participate in the stock market because “we are now in the middle of the bull market.”

Oyson said among the attractive companies today are those that belong in the consumer and property sectors because of the emerging middle class and huge housing backlog.

He advised potential investors to invest in good companies with healthy balance sheets and management and avoid chasing stocks. He further advised them to think of the stocks as a long-term growth investment. “If you want to change your wallet from poor to rich, you have to change first your mindset from poor to rich,” said Oyson.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 07, 2014.

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