After a bewilderingly long, one-year hiatus, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange once again has a website.
It was definitely worth the wait.
Among African stock exchange websites, the ZSE has, in my view, moved from worst to first.
Here are a few of my favorite features:
1) It’s got a huge amount of price and trading data.
The new site posts a daily price sheet, which is more than some African websites can claim. But it doesn’t stop there. It also highlights the days biggest gainers and losers, and even shows you which stocks are most popular with foreign investors. Even more impressive are the customizable price charts for each stock.
2) It boasts a huge library of downloadable financial reports for listed companies.
Are you researching a potential investment in Zimbabwe? Make sure to read through its annual report and most recent results first. You can find them all on ZSE’s website by clicking on each company’s document archive.
3) It compiles some helpful ratios and fundamental financial data.
The ZSE now shows P/E ratios, P/B ratios, and financial statement extracts. It looks very much like something you would see on Bloomberg.com or Yahoo! Finance. This will obviously require a lot of maintenance to keep current. Hopefully, ZSE’s management is committed to doing so, as it is a huge service to investors looking to screen the field of potential investments.
4) It clearly outlines the costs involved with trading.
You can find the complete fee schedule here, which breaks down trading costs by line item.
5) There’s a really nice page outlining taxation in Zimbabwe.
Everything most stock investors would want to know about the country’s tax regime is helpfully explained.
6) The site’s fast, got a clean look, and is relatively easy to navigate.
I’m impressed by how quickly the website loads, and the drop-down menus in the navigation bar organize a huge volume of information in an accessible way.
7) It’s in beta so still open for suggestions!
Perhaps the nicest thing about the new website is that the designers acknowledge that it is a work-in-progress. The site clearly notes that it is still in beta, and it includes a form for users to submit suggestions for making it more useful and user-friendly.
In light of the above, here are a few suggestions for making the site even better.
- I would like to see a bit more detail on how to open a brokerage account and begin trading shares. Currently, this information is touched on in the FAQ, but readers are directed to brokers for instructions on how to open an account. It would be helpful if the ZSE walked step-by-step through the process of opening an account (required forms, disclosure of personal information, account minimums, etc), described the process of how a trade is actually executed (placing an order, settlement), and discussed how to collect dividends and (for international investors) how to repatriate funds.
- It would be terrific if the site would keep track of the current dividend yield for each stock. It looks like this is in process, but I’m an impatient sort of guy.
- Finally, the navigation menu is pretty intuitive, but the drop down menus could stand for some consolidation. I know that this is easier said than done, and my own website is no model citizen in this regard, but the “Market Data” menu is a bit overwhelming and drops all the way off the bottom of my laptop’s screen.
Those small quibbles aside, kudos to the ZSE and the developers for putting together such a useful site. You’ve really raised the bar.
Now, which exchange will rise to this new precedent? Namibia? Ghana? It’s your move.