As I looked for place to pay for the shares today, I found lines around the block, and remember there were also some at 8 PM last night.
On the way here I passed another (even longer) queue – the one outside Nation Center for customers of collapsed Nyaga Stockbrokers. I hope I’m wrong in my feeling that the NSE/CMA receivers will use their bounty raised from Safaricom IPO, to pay off these claims and let the manager/owners/directors keep their stolen funds – the same thing happened last year with Francis Thuo stockbrokers, only that the funds came from Renaissance Investment Bank who bough FT’s seat. And the crackdown on generous stockbrokers is a sideshow to distract from the Nyaga issue
- When one arrives at a stockbroker or any crowded office in Kenya such as a voting booth or the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), there is an unwritten and often ignored rule of queues which translates to make sure you’re in the right queue - and the broker office had several (all long) - for opening new CDS accounts, filling out IPO forms, applying for loans, for drawing bankers cheques, for paying by cash, paying by cheque etc. I am grateful that by applying online (IPO Guilt Part I), I effectively bypassed ¾ of these queues
- The best way to confirm you’re in the right queue is to ask someone who knows about them. It’s sad to say that it many banks and offices (even on ‘normal’ days), that person is the security guard - that lowly paid uniformed man/woman inside the halls, who has attained seniority after a few years on the outside of the buildings. Banks use/misuse them as their (unrewarded) customer service agents, and today they were handing out deposit slips, explaining to customers the rules of payment, pointing out the right queue etc. I hope they are paid extra for that, but I doubt it. Where the banks are own people? The lovely ladies who pounce on you in supermarket or movie halls hawking bank loans? They are here too, but the burden of contact is reversed – out there I am the one who avoids making eye contact and hurries past their strategically obstructing table; inside here, they are the ones avoiding eye contact, looking very busy and hurrying past the queues.
- There is a lot of misinformation, up and down the queue; did you hear that? You have to pay for that, you have to go back outside for that, haiya - you filled the wrong form, and they will refuse your application! Etc.
- IPO’s create jobs and I got one today! But only for the day, and without any pay at. The broker office had a complicated queue arrangement so that those at the front of the queue would, at some point, have to walk through those at the back of the queue. I was asked to deputize (for the watchman) and do crowd control at the intersection. Wearing a black suit and blue shirt (bank uniform in Kenya) bestows credibility and I suddenly looked like IPO official, and got to answer questions from other customers. When I could not answer, I’d check with the watchman! – such as when I was unable to explain to why people paying less than 20,000 shillings (~$315) would also have to buy bankers cheques for 200 shillings, while those paying more would be exempt. People also kept asking to cut the queue, pleading that they had just been told that they had come from the wrong queue or that they had been here for two hours – sorry lady I’ve been here for three hours already!
- complaints People kept complaining about the length of queues, and why the broker did not have more tellers and counters to process the applications. Some were even pleading for the IPO to be extended for another two days to Friday. Where were they (and where was I) for the last four weeks since March 26?
- No rules today apply – you can use the phone, drink their water; even eat in the bank halls. But they should also have let in one or two hawkers to sell airtime, serve biscuits/water/juice etc, but that would make customers nervous who by virtue of being in this line, must all have at eats 10,000 shillings each in cash. But it would also be unfortunate if someone fainted when she was waiting to pay 200,000 shillings ($3,000) alone and be far away from any First Aid.
- This is the second all day queuing session for me in four months, and hope that, unlike the last one (election on December 27), the result does not rock the country. Bt if almost 1 million people queued and bought shares in little-known/understood companies like Kengen and Scangroup, how many of the nine million people who use Safaricom everyday will have bought shares by the end of today? I may revise up my 2 million estimate. But fist they have to get to clear all eth queue hurdles. I predict future IPO’s from the little known private sector companies will have minimum subscription amounts of over 100,000 shillings to limit shareholder number