Opinion: Stock Brokerages in Sri Lanka should publish audited accounts on the CSE website

June 21, 2018 (LBO) – Choosing a stock broker in Sri Lanka can be a confusing process. There are 15 member firms and 12 trading member firms listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) website. There is nothing else on the website that can help a potential client evaluate which is the best firm to transact with.

Perhaps the single most important factor when deciding to enter into a financial relationship with a firm is its financial standing. Page 14 of the CSE stock broker rules (Section 2.16.2) deal with audited financial statements. The second half of the rule states:

“A Stockbroker Firm shall, upon request, disclose the latest audited financial statements of the Stockbroker Firm filed with the CSE to a client by providing a copy of same.”

The rule states that audited financial statements of the firm are required to be provided on client request. It seems to make sense that before someone becomes a client of a firm, they should be able to evaluate the firms financial standing.

Stock brokers in Sri Lanka are highly regulated by an SEC whose budget and resources are disproportionately large compared to the small size of the industry they regulate. With such a large amount of resources spent on regulation, it seems strange that the public does not have transparent access to the financial standing of the firms the SEC regulates.

In a time where stock brokerages in Sri Lanka are being suspended from trading, it is important for market participants who keep their assets under the care of such firms to know where they stand.

If audited financial statements of each stockbroker were published on the CSE website, many may opt to transact with a firm that has better financial standing.

Ranel Wijesinha has just taken over as SEC Chairman with a new slate of commissioners. The public is optimistic that they will do more to grow the market and protect its participants than their predecessors. Getting brokers to publish their audited financials would be a good start.