David Hodnett has said Barclays Bank remains a leader in all the markets where it is present, especially across the African continent where it is represented in no less than twelve markets.
He has also reiterated the bank’s commitment to Botswana in as far as meeting public expectations commensurate with the bank’s public and brand presence. He acknowledged that Barclays Bank size and brand presence came with responsibilities and public expectations. In a recent visit to Botswana the Deputy CEO of the Barclays Africa Group said Barclays will, as it always has been, remain part of the social fabric.
In an interview with Sunday Standard Hodnett said while Barclays is by all accounts a fully global bank, it also is fully regional as well as fully local. Hodnett had led a team of high-powered executives into Botswana ÔÇô a key market for the bank, but one in which the flagship has slowly been losing its position to newcomers.
Hodnett said travelling across Africa it was humbling how many people want this bank to succeed. This he said was because many people in Africa easily relate with Barclays, as a brand but also as part of their lives. Casting a humane face rarely associated with banks these days, Hodnett said Barclays bank is well aware of the social responsibilities that come with its size in all the markets in which it is present. While Barclays has traditionally been big on retail, Hodnett said the bank will be increasing its corporate foot print because there are opportunities in that direction. One area he mentioned by name is insurance.
“We are introducing insurance; Barclays Life. This is a very good proposition coming from us,” said Hodnett. Addressing public concerns of under-investment by commercial banks in Botswana, Hodnett said Barclays is well ahead of its peers on ATM rollout “for both customers and non-customers,” he said. He said the bank is leading on investments towards “paperless branches.”
“We style ourselves as an eco-bank and ecosystems mean a lot to us.” Banks in Botswana have recently found themselves in the defensive in the face of unprecedented attacks coming from the Bank of Botswana. Without mincing her words, the Governor of Bank of Botswana, Linah Mohohlo has publicly questioned investments by banks to develop requisite skills to run their businesses. She has questioned the depth of banking skills especially surrounding risk and risk analysis. This was after commercial banks across the board were caught napping by a liquidity crisis that, according to the Central Bank was long in the making and by and large self-inflicted albeit avoidable. Mohohlo has also questioned what she said was rampant externalization of profits by banks doing business in Botswana.
In a somewhat diplomatic tone, Hodnett said Barclays was prepared to assist its local operation. He said at the group level Barclays had done all to assist the Botswana operation by asking for a profile of what the needs of Barclays Bank Botswana outfit were.