In one of his first assignments as an auditing intern, in the 1990s, Jacob Njeru, the Director of Trading and Investment at Maro Rocks Limited learnt that members in an exclusive and elites club made purchases of expensive and exotic drinks on impulse during new year auctions and then they had to humbly return them, once they sobered up and found that they bought a bottle of whiskey for Kes 50,000 whose real price is Kes 10,000. This experience, he says, is mirrored in the investment and trading landscapes where incomplete and white elephants litter the domains after investment decisions were made on hunches and impulses. For public financing, this is not usually a painful experience, but for private capital, this is a matter of life and death. In the following interview with StartUp Magazine East Africa, he explains how Maro Rocks ensure ventures and capital outlays deliver their sponsors strategic intents, safeguard capital and where feasible earn sustainable yields, and integrate risks optimally.
Why was Maro Rocks incorporated?
Corporates leverage resources, risks and yields through their business models. Maro Rocks helps such enterprises clarify their business models, resources, yields and risks against their targets. This is informed by where the enterprises compete (their domains), how they win, and what they are leveraging to deliver their goals. It is a complex process, which without integrated modeling will be difficult to conceptualize and deliver a validated analysis to an individual, a team or market. Thus, Maro Rocks provides integrated advisory in corporate processes, finance, trading and investment. The advisory will also crystallize optimal strategic responses. This covers model maturity, productivity, up scaling and sustainability.
What are your leading financial services/solutions?
We offer advisory in three categories: processes excellence, financial and trading/ investment. Finance is not just about numbers. It integrates various elements to arrive at aggregated outlooks. However, numbers best communicate these outlooks and positions.
Who do you target in view of the above?
We target enterprises or individuals making investments of at least Kes 1m, $10,000 and above. Our top limit is around Kes 1b, $10m, by which level, the enterprises should have anchored and grounded this expertise internally. Failure at this level is usually due to hubris or political friction, rather than lack of expertise per se.
Do you think you’re the best in the industry? If so, why?
We have our bragging rights based on the entities that we have helped realize their deliverables profitably and capital put to productive use. The industry has many peers and trail blazers as well. We believe we have very cohesive and validated models that will bring out the best conceptual models, deliver credible feasibility analysis and simultaneously offer platforms for renewal and transformation, ultimately delivering sustainable ventures.
Why is financial planning important for individuals, startups, SMEs and corporates?
Financial contract is a vital lever of our modern civilization, but not well understood by many players in the economic domains of competitive and comparative advantages. Expertise in this area, as well, is specialized combination of study and practice. Thus, not everyone can provide the integration and leverage advisory we offer, and also be able to manage the emotional roll coaster that playing in the markets entails. That is the vehicle and platform we provide, just as you need a ferry to cross the ocean channels safely, from time to time. We help you transport your savings/yields into the future, while realizing your dreams/ambitions in the present. It is a complex model, but it is has been with us for close to 7,000 years and it is still relevant.
What are the simple tenets of achieving financial independence for individuals/businesses?
Avoid over trading. Do not be over- zealous. Like they say in sports development, some athletes undertrain and over compete. That happens a lot in careers, trading and investments.
You need first to differentiate life and lifestyles. Financial play is about lifestyles. The lifestyles will depend on one’s appetite for risk, one’s initiatives and resilience. Since lifestyles go through many phases, cycles, growth boom and bust cycles, one needs to identify their phase and craft responses based on the key characteristics outlined above. Responses to various environments are not systematic patterns of growth and adaptation but are choices, implicit and explicit. In every situation, crystallize how you are anchored and grounded, what you need to renew and transform and the sustainability assumptions. That conversation will deliver some credible results. You will need Maro Rocks to do it effectively and consistently.
Which success stories can you point out to since the inception of Maro Rocks?
Currently, we are helping a coatings enterprise expand their business. We have also assisted a healthcare provider find appropriate capital partners and we are in the process of working with an entertainment outlet to raise funding and manage liquidity challenges.
Are there emerging trends in your line of business?
Yes. Like every other industry, the delivery channels and consumption patterns are changing. Complexity has increased, just like possible frameworks and analytical tools. Communication is also becoming fragmented as the players are bombarded with new ideas and thus, many struggle with self-doubt.
Going forward, what can we expect from you?
A strong team with requisite skills and passion as well as a satisfied clientele.
Any other pertinent issue?
The market needs to distinguish banking from advisory. Banks are more like ports, where you onboard or offload cargo and passengers. The personal and corporate models required to deliver value sustainably require much more than throwing liquidity and resources at social and economic challenges. The comforting thing is that we have capacity to rise to challenges when they emerge though not deliberately. The disappointing bit is that as Brooks Adams observed in his seminal work on civilizations, “The Law of Civilization and Decay an Essay on History, 1848-1927, quote, “another conviction forced upon my mind, by the examination of long periods of history, was the small part played by conscious thought, in moulding the fate of men. At the moment of the action the human being almost invariably obeys an instinct, like an animal, only after action has ceased does he reflect”. Our models and solutions invite players to reflect on their resources, yields and risks’domains proactively, have appropriate respect to challenges in their envisaged adventures, and when they choose a successful path, celebrate and enjoy their victories and milestones.