David Cuttings, Managing director of Standard Chartered Bank of Botswana (SCBB), pledged to push through an aggressive localization programme at the country’s oldest bank while, at the same time, indicating that more products development and service improvement will be key targets in the coming year.
Cuttings, who spoke to The Sunday Standard in an exclusive interview, last week, said “localization is a genuine concern” and added that he has a two-year plan to ensure that it works.
“One should expect a number of Batswana to increase every year in the management positions,” he said.
Cuttings took the reins as a compromise MD candidate at SCBB ÔÇô a bank which has been in existence in the country for the last 162 yearsÔÇö- after the central bank rejected SCBB’s chosen Managing Director, Lami Manjang.
He replaced Nigel Jones who left SCBB at the end of last year to join Standard Chartered Dubai.
During his short stay in the country, he has promoted a number of Batswana to senior and managerial positions, moves that have been applauded by the trade union, the Department of Labour and the Central Bank.
Some posts which are expected to be localized soon include that of head of Global markets and corporate banking. These will add to the four managerial positions of human resources, corporate affairs, legal and compliance and chief financial officer already occupied by locals. That will leave only three top positions – consumer banking, head of IT and operation and that of managing director.
Further, as part of a larger scheme, Cuttings is gearing up to ensure that a number of Batswana gain international banking exposure by sending some of them to work outside the country.
However, he cautioned that the localization plan would not do away altogether with foreigners saying they need them for skills transfer.
Apart from the localization programme, he said the bank introduced a more advanced IT platform which will position it against its competitors in the market and enable it to roll-out new services.
The recently introduced EBBS will put Standard Chartered Bank on the same level as the First National Bank of Botswana and will be in a position to roll-out internet and cell-phone banking services which the market is craving for. Further, the system is designed to avoid break-downs which were common under the old system.
That will mean Barclays will follow in the foot-steps of the pair as it also intends to do the same.
Standard Chartered Bank as a group has a similar system in Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia among the African countries in which it operates. Although Botswana is not heavily populated as the other three countries among the 13 African countries in which Standard Chartered Group operates, it derives 40 percent of its revenue from here.
Further, the new system will support the SCBB’s standing of winning London’s Financial Times Bankers AwardsÔÇöan annual award which the local operation has managed to win three years running. The award is based on products offered by the bank and the quality of service, among others.
This year alone, SCBB introduced the Diva account, Express Credit for SMEs and International Credit Account targeted towards assisting the small and medium enterprises involved in import and export services. It has contributed to corporate social responsibility and sponsored 22 SMEs customer to attend the Hong Kong exhibition where they are expected to network with suppliers.