Transformation in SA banks doing just fine, says industry body

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Even though Absa and African Bank CEOs have stepped down, BASA says there is no general trend showing a reversal in transformation in SA's banking sector. Photo: Elvira Wood
Even though Absa and African Bank CEOs have stepped down, BASA says there is no general trend showing a reversal in transformation in SA's banking sector. Photo: Elvira Wood
  • The Banking Association of SA (BASA) has published its Transformation in Banking Report.
  • The report comes hot over heels of Daniel Mminele and Basani Maluleke's departures from Absa and African Bank.
  • But BASA says there is no general trend showing a reversal in transformation in SA's banking sector.


Even though two black bank CEOs have left their positions under a cloud this year, the banking sector lobby group says there is no reversal of transformation in the sector.

The Banking Association of SA (BASA), which presented its 2020 Transformation in Banking Report on Thursday, said the pipeline of qualified and competent black professionals in the banking sector had grown considerably over the past few years and continued to grow.

BASA MD Bongiwe Kunene said, even though the association was not privy to what went down between the banks' board of directors and their CEO, she didn't foresee a reversal of transformation gains because of Basani Maluleke and Daniel Mminele's departures. She said black professionals at these two banks and across the sector had an opportunity to rise.

No broad-based decrease in numbers of black executive directors

"We already know that in the case of African Bank, their replacement has been another very well-placed, well-qualified, well-exposed black professional. We will watch this space and see what happens at Absa," she said.

Stuart Theobald, the chairperson of research and consulting firm Intellidex, said while Maluleke and Mminele's exits garnered a lot of attention, there were transformational gains that happened quietly last year, such as the appointment of a black female CEO at Bidvest Bank.

The Bidvest Group appointed Hannah Sadiki as the CEO of its financial services division and the MD of Bidvest Bank in November 2020.

"I don't think there's a broad trend that indicates a decrease in numbers of black executive directors overall," said Theobald, whose firm, Intellidex, compiles the Transformation in Banking Report annually.

BASA's tone was very much in contrast to the organisations looking after the interests of black professionals, including the Black Management Forum and the Black Securities and Investment Professionals (Absip), which thought Malukeke and Mminele's departures took the industry a few steps back in terms of transformation.

During the presentation of the transformation report, the association praised the industry for the progress it had made in hiring and promoting black people into management positions. And where transformation did not achieve targeted levels, BASA would point out that it was hard to transform in a meaningful way when the economy was contracting.

"In the four ways in consideration, a lot of progress has been made in transforming the banking industry and increasing the economic inclusiveness and empowerment in our space.

"But what we have to put on the table is the fact that it's really hard to transform in a meaningful way when the economy is contracting,' said Kunene.

Although BASA presented a 2020 report, the transformation figures included tracked progress between 2016 to the end of 2019. Over that period, the proportion of black people in junior, middle, senior, and top senior management positions consistently grew. However, the banking sector was still not meeting its targets on average when it came to the executive level and board members.

The sector's target for black people as a percentage of executive directors is 50%, but the industry reached 36% in 2019. However, this showed some markable improvement from 28% in 2017.

Of the 18 banks that were included in the report, only seven had more than 50% black executive directors in their teams. However, BASA did not indicate if those seven included Absa and African Bank and whether the stepping down of those banks' CEOs would change that picture.

When all management levels were considered, Kunene said SA's banking sector had breached the 50% black representation mark for the first time in 2019.

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