Q&A: Capitec’s Riaan Stassen

2013-10-11 11:00

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As CEO of one of SA’s Top 100 companies, Riaan Stassen knows the meaning of success.

Riaan Stassen, Capitec Bank’s pioneering CEO and one of its founders, retires in December, leaving behind a legacy of banking success.

When Capitec was listed in 2002, its share price was R2. Today, the company’s shares are worth R173.

It is one of the Business Times’ Top 100 Companies.

Have you always been a banker at heart?

No, I have never been a banker at heart. To me banking is about service and service is a retail experience which must be unique and provide real value to clients.

Is Capitec your proudest achievement?

The fact that five million clients experience simplified banking and 9 000 new jobs makes me proud to be a contributor to the South African economy.

What sets a good banker apart?

A keen understanding of the needs of the market.

Capitec is known for granting unsecured credit. Are you a forever believer in it?

We have always wanted to create a unique retail bank that helps consumers manage their financial lives better.

Credit will always be a part of this and I believe in the expansion of credit to all South Africans.

Consumers understand that our fees are lower, but what has not been well understood is that clients earn higher interest on their transactional accounts from the very first rand in their account.

Gainsayers warn that Capitec’s profits will drop as loans sour amid a slowing South African economy. Your take?

We will certainly not grow at the exponential rates of the early years. It’s just the nature of establishing a business. However, Capitec’s growth potential is still immense for the future.

What have you learnt the hard way?

That a conservative funding approach is essential in the formative years of a bank.

You are retiring at the end of this year. Was 60 always your goal retirement age?

Yes. I always had 60 in mind as it leaves me with a good number of active years to take life a bit slower.

Your retirement plans?

I don’t have plans yet, but I will not stay idle, neither will I be starting another bank, otherwise I would have stayed on longer.

What book are you reading at the moment?

I am not a reader of books. I read magazines on all my varied interests.

How do you relax?

I live a very active outdoor life, and I love running. I also love music and am a keen drummer. I enjoy fast cars.

3 Best business books

1. The Leadership Contract by Vince Molinaro. (Wiley).

A vision of great leadership and terms for becoming a committed, principled boss.

2. Lean Startup by Eric Ries. (Crown Business).

An approach to creating start-up companies inspired by lean manufacturing methods.

3. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg with Nell Scovell. (Knopf).

The chief operating officer of Facebook urges women to pursue their careers without ambivalence.

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