Standard Chartered Bank of Botswana’s international expertise and local experience, combined with “consistent delivery of world class products and services,” continues to build the bank’s reputation as the leading financial institution in Africa. It was in this context that the bank’s Head of Consumer Banking for the Africa Region, Raheel Ahmed, was in Botswana recently to welcome the local Bank’s new Head of Consumer Banking, Michael Wiegand.
To the extent that the bank’s products are not only innovative, many of which are ‘firsts in the market’, a considerable range of them is already benefiting majority of Standard Chartered’s Botswana banks in a big way.
Ahmed said in an interview that Standard Chartered’s competitive advantage in Africa is centered on the fact that the bank combines international expertise and capabilities with deep-rooted local knowledge in the respective areas of our operation.
“Our strategy in Africa is focused on ensuring we leverage this competitive advantage and our brand in Africa,” added Ahmed. This has resulted in strong performances across different products and geographies.
According to Standard Chartered Africa’s published Report for the first half of 2008, revenue has increased by 26% to $430 million while operating profit has upped by 41% to make $157million. Ahmed further indicated that their CB and WB businesses delivered strong double digit income growth at 22% and 31%, respectively.
In addition, he stated that increased investment in the business and Brand plays a key role in Standard Chartered’s Consumer Banking Strategy and performance. The Bank’s Regional chief expressed pride in the rapid growth of the Bank as exemplified by the addition “to our network, of 10 new branches and 84 new ATMs since January this year.”
The Bank’s Consumer Banking teams have introduced nine new products in seven markets to expand and deepen the retail customer base, including where they were first of their kind in Africa, “once again demonstrating how the bank is differentiating its brand through leveraging its international footprints and capabilities and introducing new, innovative products and services to Africa”.
For example, across many countries in the continent, Standard Chartered introduced the popular Diva Account, the first product of its kind aimed exclusively at women. There is also the first Smart Credit card in Africa which, according to Ahmed, is the only chip-based card, offering enhanced security.
Consideration is presently being given to the availability of what is termed ‘Alternative Distribution Channels’ to the bank’s customers. A number of these ‘alternative channels’, according to Ahmed, have been added to Standard Chartered’s Consumer Banking offering in Africa, in order to provide greater convenience to its customers and to pass on the corresponding savings to the Bank’s customers.
Ithabeleng Letsunyane, Head of Communications and Corporate Affairs of Standard Chartered Bank Botswana, says the visit by the Bank’s Regional guru is motivating. She indicated that Ahmed’s principal role involves ensuring that the Africa region’s Consumer Banking team delivers on the Bank’s strategy for Africa.
Letsunyane stated that this meant “delivering superior financial performance; improving the way we work, massively multiplying our leadership capability and strengthening our Right Partner-relationships.” Another important area that immensely benefits from Ahmed’s functional position is that of reinforcing the bank’s Brand.
However, Letsunyane posited that one of the major reasons for the Africa Chief’s visit was to welcome the newly appointed Head of Consumer Banking for Standard Chartered Bank Botswana, Michael Wiegand. Wiegand commenced his assignment on September, 2008.
“He regularly visits all markets,” said Letsunyane. “And in addition to welcoming Wiegand, he came to discuss the strategy for 2008 and the way forward into 2009.”