Bulawayo will bounce back

BULAWAYO will reclaim its status as the industrial hub of Zimbabwe driven by the recovery of agriculture and mining, one of the world’s top independent financial advisory firms has said.

Business Reporter

The deVere Group — one of the world’s largest independent advisors of specialist global financial solutions to international, local mass affluent and high-net-worth clients – opened its offices in Bulawayo this month.

It has a network of 70 offices across the world, more than 1 200 staff, over 80 000 clients and manages funds totalling over $10 billion.

The Bulawayo office became the second in the country after the group’s first foray into Zimbabwe with the opening of the Harare office in 2010.

Shane Helberg, the deVere Group area manager for Zimbabwe told Southern Eye Business the investment in Bulawayo at a time when companies were closing down or relocating, was strategic.

“We believe that Bulawayo will recover economically and shall reclaim its status as the industrial hub of the country,” he said.

“We believe the first sectors to recover will be primary sectors such as agriculture and mining, among others.

“But naturally no economy will strive to export raw materials hence the next stage of Zimbabwe’s recovery will be to boost the processing of raw materials and thus export finished goods.

“In this process, we’re confident that Bulawayo will not be left out of Zimbabwe’s growth, but will indeed be part of it by virtue of its strategic location.”

Helberg said the deVere Group was in Bulawayo to stay, adding that there were still some firms committed to the survival of the city.

“Our clients come from across all sectors of the Bulawayo economy and it is our experience that not all companies that are relocating to Harare. Indeed many are happy to set-up and/or remain and grow in Bulawayo,” he said.

“Like many firms, deVere Group is now committed long-term to using its resources, time and energy to developing its brand in Bulawayo and thereby playing our part in realising this great city’s true potential.

“In addition, typically where deVere Group — which has 80 000 clients globally, more than $10 billion under advice and management, and 70 offices worldwide — develops, other major corporate citizens follow.”

To resuscitate the city’s economy, Heldberg said there had to be investment in infrastructure and primary sectors.

He said there was need to do away with vested interests that deter job creation, an anecdote that was also needed at national level.

“Our clients in Bulawayo and Harare are local high-net-worth and mass affluent individuals, international investors and expatriates,” he added.

The entry of the deVere Group has the potential to reinvigorate efforts to resuscitate Bulawayo’s industries, he said.

“We are already well-established and well-known within the British and American expatriate community – a community we’re very proud to be an integral part of – and I look forward to developing our role within it,” Helberg said.

“I believe that as the city’s economy strengthens over time,the city’s financial services sector will develop to reflect this as the people attracted to the economically growing city will need financial advice from specialist firms, such as deVere Group.”

He said the opening of the Bulawayo office was motivated by a realisation that a change in economic fortunes would see Zimbabwe’s well-established Diaspora returning home.

Said Helberg: “The setting up of our Bulawayo office is not a short-term investment, but a long-term one for deVere as we see Bulawayo’s true potential become a reality as Zimbabwe as a whole continues to grow.

“As the economy improves we see a large number of expatriates coming to work in Bulawayo by the virtue of the foreign direct investment we see coming in the next 10 years.

“With this in mind, there will be a larger and increasing market of globally-minded, high-net-worth individuals who are in need of international financial advice, which is one of the areas in which deVere Group specialises.”

The deVere Group team in Zimbabwe is reportedly one of the best performing for the organisation in the African region.

“We launched in Harare in October 2010 and have maintained and enhanced our world-class professional standards ever since by giving our clients the best financial advice, service and products possible,” Helberg said.

“This has allowed us to retain our clients and significantly increase our client base month-on-month.

“We also aim to double the business we do in Bulawayo over the next year.

“We will achieve this goal and meet the soaring demand by recruiting more talented wealth managers to join our already incredibly successful Bulawayo-based team, led by Nathan Mpofu.”

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