Banks seek to take charge of transformation agenda

Cape Town – South Africa’s banks want to take charge of the transformation agenda by becoming more robust in their transformation strategy, according to the Banking Association of South Africa (BASA).

“The mandate from the board is to become far more robust about transformation,” BASA MD Cas Coovadia told the Cape Town Press Club on Wednesday. “We want to take charge of this agenda and put it on the table. We need to be driving it.”

Board members include Barclays Africa CEO Maria Ramos, Nedbank CEO Mike Brown and Standard Bank CEO Sim Tshabalala. One of BASA’s mandates is guiding transformation in the financial sector.

Coovadia’s message came a few hours before parliament’s standing committee on finance and portfolio committee on trade and industry were to debate the transformation of the financial sector draft report.

The report follows hearings in March, where stakeholders and banks were given a chance to share their views and policies on transformation in the financial sector.

“This report is one input into our transformation agenda,” said Coovadia. “The (Financial Sector Charter) code can carry on, but if we are working optimally, then we wouldn’t be having this discussion.”

Explaining how banks will drive transformation, Coovadia said they will focus on these key strategies:

  • They will look at procurement and whether banks are enabling or blocking small and medium-sized enterprises. They are working with a range of banks to do a deep-dive investigation into the situation.
  • They will look at the lack of transformation of senior management and find ways to address this. He pointed out that middle management is fairly transformed and that they need to understand why these managers are not moving up the ladder.
  • They will look at the ownership structure of banks. Coovadia said banks are institutionalised and require deep pockets to own; they therefore want to explore why more cooperative banks are not being established. “Through a more diversified ownership, we will get a more diversified sector,” he said.

Coovadia said BASA will also be interacting with black professional organisations to understand the issues of people who work for banks, thereby closing the loop.

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