COSTA RICA - Finance
CEO, Mercado de Valores
Cristina Masis has an MBA from the High Direction Business School at the University of Catalunya. As a sportswoman, wife, mother of two, and leader of a company in operation for more than 40 years in Costa Rica, she is recognized in the national stock market and financial sector. She has been working for the Mercado de Valores of Costa Rica. She is founding member of Multifondos Costa Rica, SFI S.A., and board member of very important stock and financial institutions such as Bolsa Nacional de Valores de Costa Rica, Cámara de Puestos de Bolsa (CAMBOLSA), and INTRERCLEAR Central de Valores S.A.
My father, who always had his interests in the stock exchange, founded this company in 1975. The national Stock Exchange started in 1976 and today, 41 years later, Mercado de Valores is one of the founding members that´s still in the business. He was always interested in the financial sector, he occupies the position of general manager of Banco Crédito Agrícola de Cartago and he also had a financial company called Multivalores, that started as a foreign exchange business. At the beginning, there were many private companies listed and active in the stock market. This is not the reality today, because our market is focused on government bonds, and many companies that were family owned were sold to international companies and moved out of the stock market. The reality today is that the stock market is almost 90% public issues; hence, we are thinking how to get it back to what a stock market should be. This is not easy, as there are things that should be taken into consideration, such as changes that should be done related with legislation and the fact that the access to bank credit is easier for companies rather than all the diligence that requires if you want your company to be listed in the stock market. There is a lot of work to be done to move companies into the market.
They are mostly individuals but we also assist corporations. We are specialized as asset managers for families and individuals and because this is a business based on confidence, we are focused on building a close relationship with our clients. We have been in the market for 41 years and our clients know our history and values. We are responsible in making our best analysis and closely monitor what goes on in the market having in mind that our purpose is to advise and make the best decisions for our clients having in consideration their objectives and needs.
The total number of clients we have is around 2,200. The number of clients has grown over the years because of our performance and trajectory, that results as a good reference as this is the best way to be considered for new clients. Also, our funds have been an important alternative of investment for new professionals who are starting to make their investment profile, through the funds clients can diversify and start making investments orderly and in a good way. We also design custom portfolios when the client has a larger amount of savings and considering their needs and objectives, we can structure a unique investment strategy for them.
The biggest challenge for our country is the high financial deficit our government have. We know the government is trying to find a solution for this problem that has been there for many years. The exchange rate is related to this topic; in Costa Rica although our currency is not US dollars everything here is sold and priced in dollars. Also, there is a big risk in getting loans in dollars, so the financial sector is trying to move people to change their loans to colons. Because of this the government will have difficulty to access credit, then the rates can raise and that can put pressure to the exchange currency. Despite the issues, the country is still attractive and we still receive a lot of international investors because of other virtues the country offers.
For investors, including companies, Costa Rica provides a lot of opportunities with qualified professionals and a healthy investment climate. We have to improve many things regarding bureaucracy; however, there are institutions such as CINDE, for example, that do a lot of work to help companies get through that smoothly. Also, there are many opportunities to invest in infrastructure, let’s say as co-investment with the government in pubic concessions, once politic issues are surpassed through the congress. We, as Mercado de Valores, have the capacity and experience for helping investors to keep their interest in Costa Rica, we can provide an analysis of their needs and investments related to their sector of interest and we also have good relationships with business men with whom they can find common interest. We can help this companies get established in the country and if they need financial advice they can count on us to understand and find the best alternatives. Many companies that come to Costa Rica and invest through us start investing small amounts of money, starting with their cash flow. If they decide to increase their investments, we can provide them with many opportunities that includes international and local alternatives. We have the capacity to provide a professional analysis to clients who come with their portfolios from abroad, as they ask us to review them and provide them advise looking if we can do some things or changes that improve their portfolio as private investors. We hope as a country we can keep investors interested in Costa Rica.
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