NEZHA HAYAT, is the Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of AMMC – Morocco’s Capital Market Authority, following her appointment in February 2016 by His Majesty the King, Mohammed VI.
An ESSEC Business School Paris graduate, she until her nomination worked at Société Générale Morocco group where she became in 2007, the first woman on a management board of a bank in the country. She started her career in Spain at the international division of Banco Atlantico as responsible for international risks and restructured debt portfolio (1985-1988). From 1988 to 1990, she was in charge of the department of corporate finance in two brokerage houses in Madrid (Inverfinanzas and then Bravo y Garayalde).
In 1990, she moved to the private banking activities, first as branch manager of Banco Inversion in Marbella and in 1993 as deputy director of Banque Nationale de Paris offshore unit in Tangier. She then joined Société Générale Marocaine de Banques on October 1995, and launched their activities of brokerage and asset management, following the Reform of the capital markets in Morocco and the privatization of the Casablanca Stock Exchange.
In October 2017, Nezha was elected Vice-Chair of the Africa and Middle East Committee (AMERC) within the International Organization of Financial Market Regulators (IOSCO) for the 2016-2018 term.
She was decorated by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, Officer of Wissam Al Arch (Order of the Throne)
In an interview with Forbes Middle East, she shares her insight into economic growth, green finance, and the importance of gender parity.
How is the Moroccan Capital Market Authority (AMMC) contributing to the country’s financial and economic growth?
The Moroccan Capital Market Authority is committed to contributing to economic recovery by enhancing the attractiveness of the capital market for enterprises and project holders. Our role is more relevant in the current context as economic recovery requires the mobilization of substantial financing that goes beyond traditional means.
The vision statement of our 2021-2023 strategic plan is ‘A capital market aiming at financing the economic recovery’. Accordingly, we are focusing on facilitating market financing for companies and promoting regulation that is adapted for innovation. These are particularly relevant as Moroccan companies are mainly SMEs that rely heavily on bank financing that may become more difficult to access in the crisis context.
We are also working on strengthening confidence in the market and enhancing its attractivity for savers, companies, and projects holders. To this end, AMMC commits to consolidating its risk-based supervisory approach to ensure the continuous integrity and transparency of the market.
I would like to highlight that the Moroccan new development model, which sets out national ambitions and the path for change, identified the capital market as one of the key drivers to reach the ambitious development objectives.
According to the IMF, the Moroccan economy experienced one of the highest growth rates in the MENA region in 2021. How does that link back to the country’s capital market?
The prompt response initiated by His Majesty The King of Morocco to the health crisis has contributed significantly to softening the pandemic’s economic impact. Stimulus packages and monetary and fiscal policies are among the measures undertaken to recover most of the ground lost in 2020.
In regard to the Moroccan financial system, the decade-long implementation of regulatory reform initiatives has significantly enhanced its resilience and ability to mobilize savings. For example, the stock market quickly recovered from the initial pandemic outbreak and the market continued to provide financing for companies, despite the relative uncertainty induced by the pandemic.
The market is today able to support the economic growth dynamic thanks to the diversity of solutions and products it offers, its alignment with international standards, and its sound professional ecosystem.
What are your views on green finance in relation to Morocco’s financial sector?
Aware of the importance of sustainable finance, and in line with the kingdom’s commitments regarding sustainable development, AMMC has adopted an innovative approach for developing an enabling national sustainable finance framework.
Indeed, rather than using the traditional regulation tools, we relied on more flexible and inclusive means such as voluntary guidelines, awareness raising initiatives, and ecosystem engagement, before adopting mandatory rules for sustainable finance transactions and ESG reporting. The Moroccan experience in sustainable finance has been widely recognized and we have gladly taken part in fostering sustainable finance in other jurisdictions, mainly in Africa.
Today, in a national context of economic recovery calling for the implementation of projects and initiatives that have a social or green dimension, sustainable finance has the potential to facilitate mobilizing the needed financing.
In addition, sustainable finance has become a competitiveness factor for financial markets and, as such, the Moroccan capital market will consolidate its initiatives in this field to continue attracting capital and fulfill its ambition of becoming a regional hub.
In 2021, Forbes ME named you as one of the Middle East’s most powerful women in business. How would you describe your professional journey and what or who has influenced your career path?
I have had two different careers on my professional journey. First, I worked in banking abroad after my MBA, and then I developed a 20-year career in Morocco where I was the first woman to be appointed to a managing board in a bank. I guess I built my career by choosing to take risks as opportunities instead of following the usual career path within the bank. By doing this, I proved every day that I was ready for the next step.
Meanwhile, I was committed to different associations, both professional and gender-related. For example, I chaired the association of stockholders and the finance commission within the CGEM, and I co-founded the association of Moroccan women entrepreneurs, AFEM, to promote female participation in the economy.
I enjoyed those commitments so much and I understood that my dream was to have the opportunity to serve my country in public office. This dream came true in 2016, when I was appointed by his Majesty to head the newly transformed Moroccan Capital Market Authority. Since then, my main challenge has been to ensure the transformation of the authority into a more modern and independent regulator while promoting the development and efficiency of the capital market.
You are considered one of Morocco’s leading female figures. In what ways do you support women’s empowerment?
I am an advocate of gender parity and diversity. Many research studies have demonstrated that eliminating gender gaps in economic participation can bring increases in per capita income. We therefore need to promote more women in the workplace.
The association I co-created, Club des Femmes Administrateurs (CFA), is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting good governance and gender diversity on the boards of public and private companies in Morocco. It has been very active in offering mentorship and guidance to many women in their career paths and preparing them to take on corporate board roles. From 2010 to 2021, the share of women in corporate boards increased from 10% to 19%.
At the AMMC, we have contributed, among other actors, to the adoption of the law that sets the quota for women in governance bodies: 30% as a progressive quota for women in three years, and then 40% in six years. In 2021, we also published a gender bond guideline that highlights the relevance of gender equality and women’s empowerment for sustainable finance and provides reference standards applicable to gender bonds.
Source: forbesmiddleeast.com / torontocenter.org