Updated: Mar 21
Name: Michelina Chindiya
Currently based in: Harare, Zimbabwe
Education: B.Sc. in Banking and Finance (University of Essex)
Job title: Offshore Wealth Specialist
Did you always know you wanted to work in finance and, if not, what sparked your interest in the industry?
My mother is an economist by profession, so growing up she would have me read through her financial reports and newspaper articles in the finance section on the way to school every morning, to progress with my reading. So, I grew up taking in all things finance thanks to my mother, and I grew up thinking, “I want to be like my mama” because that’s what I was exposed to. As a result, I took a liking to subjects such as Mathematics and Accounting and excelled at them too! Anything that involved numbers I enjoyed, so when it came to deciding on which degree to take up in university, Banking and Finance was a no brainer.
Could you tell us what your job as an Offshore Wealth Specialist entails?
Simply put, a Wealth Specialist is a Wealth Management Advisor. I pretty much provide wealth solutions to high net worth individuals in the offshore market. I utilize a spectrum of financial disciplines available, such as financial and investment advice, legal or estate planning, accounting, and tax services, and retirement planning, to manage an affluent client's wealth. My responsibilities include relationship management, helping clients with account details, and providing advice on financial investments. My role is far more comprehensive than just offering client investment advice, I focus on a holistic suite of services that encompasses all parts of a client’s financial life. I look at wealth management services in:
Strategic tax planning
Family legacy planning
Risk management and insurance planning
Not only do you hold a full-time job as a Wealth Specialist, but you are also an Economic Contributor at BBC News and SAfm, a fitness model and the host of the online show, State of Business. What do you do to ensure you meet all of your commitments (so how do you prioritise, stay organised etc)?
Well, for me it all comes down to planning and having a set routine to some extent in my life. I am a firm believer in the saying “if you fail to plan then you plan to fail.” I like to plan out all my days down to the hour. My weekly planner is my best friend, in it, I have a schedule for all my work meetings, gym time, which after a while all becomes routine till the rhythm flows like clockwork. Having everything planned out also makes me feel more at ease so no matter hectic the day may get, I always have a plan to centre myself. My weekends are less hectic, so my team and I use those to shoot, create and plan content for my fitness page. So, it’s all about planning and finding a balance.
You have featured on various BBC Africa segments discussing the economic situation in Zimbabwe. Most recently, you were invited to Money Daily where you covered Zimbabwe’s repayment of its Legacy debt. For those who missed it, could you give a brief summary of what we need to know?
Alright, foreign currency legacy debt is a historical debt, which was accrued over a period of time, for services rendered/products sold by foreign creditors.
After the government brought back the Zimbabwe dollar on 24 June 2019, ending the ten-year multi-currency regime, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) issued a press statement announcing a number of policy measures. One of these measures was a directive to all banks to transfer to the RBZ all the Zimbabwe dollars they are holding as counterpart funds for the foreign currency historical or legacy debt owed to creditors. This is because the RBZ is assuming this legacy debt on behalf of the government. The total legacy debt is estimated at ZWL$1.2 billion. This means converted at the rate of 1:1 the government is assuming a debt of USD1.2 billion. The government believes this measure will “mop up” excess liquidity in the market.
Foreign suppliers’ money is caught up in the financial system, which is controlled by the RBZ, which, in turn, is only allocating foreign currency to a few importers on a priority basis. The result has been a decline in imports, dollar woes and an acute shortage of foreign currency which has lead to scarcity of basic goods and will eventually led to the shortage as well as basic good price increases. All of this is amidst the backdrop of a shrinking economy and a devaluing currency.
Clearing our arrears (which we have been defaulting on since 1999) is a crucial step towards new foreign funding and ending the outcast status that Zimbabwe acquired under Robert Mugabe’s rule. Paying arrears could open access to financing from international institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and other development institutions
The biggest obstacle is the Banks and Funds biggest member, the US, which still maintains sanctions on Zimbabwe and is unlikely to support any new financing for Zimbabwe until we make progress on social and political reforms, which include laws restricting media freedom, anti-government protests & paying reparations to white farmers who were affected by the lad reform program.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to eat out in my free time. I really love my food and I am always looking for somewhere new in town to have a good hearty meal.
Finally, what does a typical day look like for you?
I start my day at 5 am in the morning, I pray and prepare my meals for the day (meal prepping is crucial when you are a very busy person, finding time to eat right during the day can be difficult, so planning your meals before you start is very important). I start work at 8 am, usually in a meeting where everyone in the firm discusses strategies for day and week and projected business to be done. I then spend the rest of my day out of the office meeting with existing clients making sure their investment portfolios are in line with their goals, needs and circumstances, ss well as meeting potential clients who may wish to take on my services as an advisor. My day ends at around 530pm, at which point I head off to the gym where I workout until 7 pm or so, then I head home and prepare to do it all over again!
Three things about Michelina
Favourite lunch spot - The Bistro
Currently listening to - Lotto - Samthing Soweto
Favourite quote - The sky is not the limit... I am