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30.10.2008 Business & Finance

Special Investment Account for Ghanaian Diaspora

By The Statesman

DATABANK Asset Management Services has extended its services to Ghanaians living abroad, making it possible for them to own shares in the bank's investment funds.

This is the Databank Homecoming Account, a hybrid account with underlying investments in various instruments in Ghana and other parts of Africa.

Perhaps, if the DHA had been introduced much earlier, it would have offered an additional investment opportunity for some members of the Ghanaian Diaspora (whose savings and investments have been severely hit by the recent turmoil in developed markets) to diversify their investments across markets like that of Ghana and other parts of Africa.

Three different investment accounts have been created to this effect: Databank Diaspora Epack Account, for those who want to meet long-term financial obligations; Databank Gye Nyame Account, a medium-term investment fund and Databank Sankofa Account, for short-term needs.

The recommended minimum duration for the Epack Account is three years; Gye Nyame two years and one year for the Sankofa Account.

Databank has entered into an agency agreement with Money Systems International Cash Transfer (MSI) and Ghana International Bank, so that Ghanaians living abroad who want to build funds to meet short-to-medium and long-term financial obligations back home can do so.

Epack, as a pan-African Equity Mutual Fund, has investments in 11 regulated markets in Africa (Ghana, Nigeria, Botswana, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Mauritius, Tanzania, Zambia, Morocco and Malawi). As a long-term fund, Epack invests in under-valued shares of listed companies in selected African stock markets.

The underlying investment in the Databank Sankofa is the Databank Money Market Fund (Mfund) which also invests in Government treasury bills, commercial papers and Certificate of Deposits.

The underlying investment in the Gye Nyame Account is the Databank Balanced Fund (Bfund). The Fund invests in short-term and long-term funds in equal proportions.

Regular monthly or weekly payments of the equivalent of US$40 can be made or one-off lump sum contribution of an equivalent of at least US$350 can be made.

Investors have the benefit of enjoying capital gains or interest income on their investments which are well managed by professionals.

Returns on funds under Databank-managed mutual fund have averaged 50 percent per year during the last decade.

 In practical terms, GH¢100 ($575/£346 equivalence) invested in Epack in 1996 would be worth over GH¢8,527 ($8,886/£4,448) as at the end of Dec, 2007.

Like every other investment, the Databank Homecoming Account has some potential risks.

The underlying long-term instruments face the risk of price depreciation and local currency depreciation. The main risks facing the short-term funds are changes in interest rates which might cause reduction in the yield on securities held.

The Fund Manager has, however, had an exceptional investment performance over the last decade.

It is also instructive to note that Epack, the flagship long-term Fund in the Databank Homecoming Account, has been the best performing equity mutual fund in Ghana. It was also voted as the best Institutional investor in Africa 2007.

If you"re a Ghanaian resident abroad, who wants to return home in comfort someday, then the Databank Homecoming Account is one of the best investment vehicles for you to achieve this