FROM GROUNDWATER ENGINEER TO CHARTERED MARKET TECHNICIAN

By By Francis Mukuzunga
November 2010
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BANK Windhoek’s Treasury Division Senior Forex Dealer, Conrad Wessels has become the first Namibian to qualify as a Chartered Marketing Technician (CMT) recently after recently going through a grueling Market Technician Association (MTA) USA’s final level examination schedule.

A CMT is a financial analyst who uses technical analysis as a tool to make investment decisions in different types of financial instruments.

South Africa has about five CMTs and roughly there are about 900 CMTs worldwide. The CMT designation provides an internationally recognised standard of proficiency for technical analysts, in the financial markets analysis sector.

The MTA program for CMT’s offers a structured approach to study the field of technical analysis and ensure all key areas are covered.

“Technical analysis has been used for more than a century to analyse markets and make financial decisions. Dow Jones was one of the pioneers in technical analysis and his technical theories are still applied today,” says Wessels, adding, “In the USA and Europe, it is a very well known field of study which takes years of practical experience and knowhow to master. It is not the easiest of qualifications to obtain.”

As a Senior Forex Dealer at Bank Windhoek, Wessels is involved in the daily analysis of the bank’s foreign exchange markets where he manages the bank’s foreign exposure position, as well as recommending strategies to clients.

His new profession has a lot of technical analysis where he has more to do with analysing economic and financial data by using price movements as a prediction tool.

Wessels is involved in the technical analysis of all Bank Windhoek’s foreign exchange clients and writing a weekly technical analysis report covering different currencies and international stocks.

“CMT’s are professionals managing market risk, making professional investment decisions to minimize clients’ downside risk and maximize upside potential of clients’ portfolios. The CMT accreditation consists of three examinations that must be completed within five years. The examinations begin by testing your knowledge of definitions and gradually move towards requiring detailed written analysis based on charts and indicators,” he says.

Having come from a scientific and engineering background, where he worked as a groundwater specialist with NamWater for several years, Wessels says he did not see much difference when he switched over to the current field because both require good analytical skills and a good mathematical background.

“I have a totally different degree for where I am today, so I had to study. The CMT designation opens international doors to professionals in the financial investment world. As a registered CMT I can be eligible to work at the New York Stock Exchange.

In the field of financial decision making, analysts compete with the global market and the quality of any analyst’s decision making ability is what determines success, no matter where he or she is stationed in the world. The CMT designation isolated the tools I need to make educated professional financial market investment decisions.”

Wessels’ entry into financial analysis was triggered by his interest in markets and figures around the world’s trading centres. He started off as a financial analyst and then switched over to CMT. A move he says was smooth sailing:

“I was a groundwater specialist for eight years with NamWater. A lot of my work at NamWater was based on mathematical analysis of underground systems, which I really enjoyed. I got involved with foreign exchange trading and technical analysis early in 2000 and I found that the mathematical principles for analyzing groundwater graphs were very much the same as analyzing financial markets.

“I intensively studied the field of technical analysis for three years before making a career changing decision of joining Bank Windhoek in August 2003 as a foreign exchange trader.

Since then, I’ve never looked back and the move from science and engineering to becoming a forex trader in the Bank Windhoek Treasury was the best career move of my life.”

Wessels says the CMT accreditation would afford him a better opportunity to come up with analysis reports that will be recognised and relied upon by leading financial institutions. He adds that the designation also gives him more credibility as a professional analyst and market decision maker.

“Bank Windhoek is a local owned bank and we do not have the luxury of receiving financial and trading recommendations from South African analysts so we have to rely on our internal resources to make daily trading decisions.

The years of study in the field of technical analysis give me the edge in the market. Trading is also a very stressful job and using technical analysis makes decision making very objective and unemotional. Technical analysis definitely gives a trader the edge by staying objective, making objective decisions and ignoring emotional driven decisions.”

Given the slow growth of the Namibia Stock Exchange (NSX) it seems technical analysis of the markets has no place in Namibia’s economy, but according to Wessels, the size of industries, ranging from diamond trade to fishing, mining, tourism and farming that deal with forex is so immense and in desperate need of such expertise.

Companies can benefit from the analysis of the currency movements, especially for financial planning as Wessels argues that the technical analysis of financial markets does have a place in Namibia.

He says the number of foreign currency earning industries in Namibia who those want to invest in good stocks around the world can use financial institutions such as Bank Windhoek’s technical analysis services.

“A lot of dual listed Namibian stocks and clients need to make more and more decisions on managing their investment portfolios in a global interlinked financial market. In my line of work as a foreign exchange trader, it also makes no sense to analyze the market fundamentally to predict the possible future directional move of the currency.

“The FX markets are fast moving and just too volatile to rely on fundamentals. A lot of customers’ investments abroad and all those other stocks can be analysed in order to make professional investment decisions. Technical analysis definitely has a place in the Namibian economy and investment management world.”

For one to become a technical analyst, Wessels says, they have to spend “hours and hours of hard work”.

Studying technical analysis can be a daunting task. Seach engine ‘Google’ returns more than 44 million sites when searching the term. Amazon.com offers more than 30,000 books on the subject.

With so much information available, the budding analyst can easily be overwhelmed. Knowing where to start is probably the greatest challenge in getting educated.

Wessels says the MTA is the only professional organization in the world offering the CMT designation. The CMT designation provides an internationally recognized standard of proficiency for technical analysts; the same as the CFA does in the financial analyst space.

Having completed secondary education at Windhoek High School in 1988, Wessels went on to study at the University of Stellenbosch and the University of Free State in South Africa. He has BSc Honours Degree in groundwater Studies, but now finds himself settled in a totally different field.

Wessels is married to Marlé, a Conveyancing Attorney with a Windhoek based law firm and the couple has two children, Celé (8) and Marco (3). PF