Aid Nanić: Natural resources in Bosnia are enormous and largely untapped

Adnan-Delic

Aid Nanić is CEO of Waterloo Asset Management, a group that is specializes in asset management and family office services. It is a company that successfully operates in the business world over 20 years, and is actively cooperating with the private bankers, tax experts and entrepreneurs. Mr. Nanić in an interview for Horizont 2024 reveals how he began his career, what are the biggest potentials of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also what are disadvantages of Bosnia and Herzegovina when it comes to investments. Mr. Nanić has high expectations of the Forum TIS which can connect in many ways countries in the region which is certainly the starting point in order to use all resources in a best way.

1. Can you tell me something about yourself?

Aid Nanić: I completed a degree in Finance at the University of Liège in Belgium in 2005 and started my carrier at the Luxembourg unit of Notz, Stucki Group, a Swiss wealth and portfolio manager specialized in Hedge Funds. I have started there in the economic research team and left the company as financial analyst eight years later. Then, still in Luxembourg, I headed theInvestment Management department of Adepa Asset Management, where I was in charge of the investment fund engineering and follow-up with institutional investors. I left Adepa in 2016 to run Waterloo Asset Management as Chief Executive Officer.

2. Can you tell me something about your organization you are work in?

Aid Nanić: Waterloo Asset Management is a group specialising in asset management and family office services. The company setup an investment and follow-up model which results of over20 years’ collaboration between private bankers, tax specialists and entrepreneurs in order to offer a tailor-made service to demanding and wealthy clients by relying on advisers with top-level expertise. Thus, we are advising, managing and structuring portfolio of our private clients but are also managing mutual funds as per the UCITS standards (highest level of regulation and distribution requirements).

3. In your opinion what are the potentials that B&H can provide to the investors?

Aid Nanić: In practice, Bosnia-Herzegovina (hereafter “BiH”) assumes a very complete set of real potentials with which only a few countries can compete. Its natural resources are huge and largely underexploited as agriculture where the organic positioning can bring a real value to West European potential customers and a sustainable activity to local producers. Secondly, the energy potential is also important and that for all profitable renewable segments: hydro, wind and solar. According to quite every study I read on this topic on the region, every Canton of BiH disposes of enough potential to justify a real clean energy development policy coming from at least one of the mentioned segments and often two. Finally, various ore resources can still be exploited but assume significant technical investments and a positive social and political context.
4. In your opinion what are the advantages of B&H that can provide to the investors?
Aid Nanić: First of all, the production costs are low while the country is close to strong economies, this is a very important point.

Secondly, B&H have quite strong technicians in various fields and also quite well recognized abroad; technicians on industrial processes, science specialists and various artisan fields. How many specialists do work successfully? Unfortunately a lot of them quite often leave the country however I am not convinced the economic condition is the main reason. Very often the social environment is a stronger raison. However, the Bosnians are quite sensitive to their origins and these leaving abroad in particular, thus their knowledge and experience is in a way still available. The question here is more if the local environment is ready to work with them? Thus soccer players can illustrate this in a funny – or – sad way – I do not know which word is more appropriate!

Also, the capacity of a Bosnian to cope with complex situations and find operational solutions is a real asset. In how many difficult situations local entrepreneurs faced in late 90ies and managed to keep their business alive and became local players? This can be seen also in the familial structure of the population where people often organized the private life in an efficient way without using loans and building their adult life with a negative start as we can see often in Western Countries.

Finally, the geographic positioning of the country is also an advantage. With regards to the West side, the country is very close to big economies as Italy, Austria and Southern Germany. Thus, the local producers can take advantage of the important gap in production costs resulting mainly to the labor and real estate components in order to export products to such countries. On the South Side, the country is very close to a major player: Turkey. B&H can also take an advantage through commercial or logistic approaches as a bridge with eastern countries. Also, with regards to Eastern Europe countries, B&H can offer the shorter access to sea port. However, the appropriate logistic means still does not exist and the Ploče or Split ports are not active enough either.

This drives us to observe the lack of infrastructure needed to allow the local companies to play with this last one. However, it worth to mention the impressive development of the Motorway network of BiH and this mainly with regards to a smart budget planning which does not impact strongly the country debt.

5. According to your findings, what are disadvantages in B&H when it comes to investments?

Aid Nanić: In the contrary of medias and public opinion, from my experience and analysis, the main weaknesses are more practical rather than political which is less important. The main issue is the heritage of the socialist way of doing and thinking which is still strongly present. The entrepreneurs, managers and also employees adopt in a generalized way a passive attitude towards the markets, production and organization. Everyone is expecting the government to take actions on behalf of everyone while this cannot happen as per the definition itself of a liberal system. This is for me the key: you have the freedom to act and take the risks you wish! It is up to everyone to take actions and the government is there to put in place rules and from time to time stimulus in some directions. Do you think Steve Jobs was waiting the US government to take the initiatives he did? He took a lot of initiatives and thus the corresponding risks and get afterward the profits which drove him to one of the strongest company in the World. If Steve Jobs would have been in today B&H, he would of course face stronger difficulties to collect the money to start the first production and sales, however I am convicted that good initiatives always become a success in a liberal environment. As illustration, we can mention microcredit in India, Ethiopian Airlines, Joel Mwale and Eric Muthomi from Kenya, etc. I am mentioning these success stories because as you can see all of these emerged from much more difficult environment than the B&H one and that from all levels, political, social, corruption… thus why not from B&H ?

Thus, I can also mention the image of the country and the lack of infrastructure but for me the key is the attitude.

And this is also the same for other former Yugoslavia countries.

6. According to your findings, what kind of image does B&H has in the business world abroad?

Aid Nanić: As per I observed, the exporters have a quite positive vision but this will continue as long as the sales are there. On the export side things are more complex as the local players do not really accept the fact they need to invest in the adaptation of the products and understand the target market in order to see any business working. Then, the B&H businessman may focus more on the preparation of their export activities with some partners and plan that on several steps and this before the export come to them. One day this always happen.

With regards to foreign investors towards potential investment in the country, I do not consider BiH cannot compete with other high-risk countries but the question is more on what? The lack in the preparation of projects with regards to the financial sector practices is strong. Investors are professionals and get used to the analyze various projects and when they can have the opportunity to consider a project prepared in former Yugoslav countries, the studies present quite storing technical lacks.

As a conclusion, I would remind that BiH “paid a strong price” to get the freedom and seeing this underused is a pity and that even more in a global and open world as of today. Data and information are free and accessible to everyone, not using it and not acting in that frame leaves me with no comment.

7. What are your expectations from the project TIS?

Aid Nanić: As I mentioned earlier, B&H has a variety of resources that are certainly of interest to the investors. Our entire region for many people represents ideal area for foreign investment, but unfortunately, all these potentials are not to a large degree exploited. What could change things is just this regional cooperation. Individually we may not do a lot, but together we are able to respond to the most difficult tasks. TIS as a regional project can be a starting point for everything that awaits us in the next period. Connecting markets, investment and statistics at the regional level is possible and my expectations of this board are really great. All participants have to think about the future and if some things are set on a best way for the beginning, I believe that the project will give excellent results, and that regional cooperation will be even on a higher level. Through the Forum TIS we all together can make a significant step forward, and certainly we should be happy.

(Source: Horizon 2024)