Reinette van der Merwe bids adieu to a stable Barclays bank

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The outgoing Barclays Bank Botswana Managing Director, Reinette van der Merwe

The outgoing Barclays Bank Botswana MD Reinette van der Merwe, is leaving her post a very satisfied boss. Van der Merwe has been the bank’s MD for the past 5 years and during her tenure, the bank has seen a steady growth both in its profits and footprint in a country where banks are fighting for a stranglehold of both territorial advantage market shares.

The MD who was speaking at the Barclays Bank of Botswana full year financial results presentation said the results that were presented were a testimony that the bank is on a steady path even in the face of transition towards parent company name which is Absa. Howver her tenure also brought out her long cherished trait of being a philanthropist and a leader who put corporate social responsibility first. She alluded to a number of initiatives that her bank has been carrying out throughout her stay in Botswana.

Speaking of the bank’s initiative towards employment creation the MD said, “Ready   to   Work,   our   on-line   learning   curriculum   on employability and entrepreneurship, has made steady progress.  Our  partners,  Project  Concern  International and Stepping Stones International made good progress working  with  private  sector  companies  to  place  youth into internships or permanent employment. As  at  the  end  of  December  2018,  216  youth  had  been placed in either internship or employment opportunities. An additional 519 had been trained and graduated from Ready to work.”

The bank has also been at the forefront of giving the unbanked a voice in the financial space. “Our ambition is to expand our products and services to previously   unbanked   populations”

Alluding to the exponential growth that her parent company Absa has been taking van der Merwe said Absa has had unexpected results.  “As  you  may  have  seen  from  our  communication  in  the previous  weeks,  the  Absa  Group  continues  to  enjoy tremendous  momentum  in  the  market  as  it  delivered another set of strong results. International   economic   conditions   improved,   though competition remained keen as banks sought to capitalise on the upturn in investor sentiment and a more positive outlook among businesses in the region”.

She said new technologies were a standard bearer at her bank and nothing would supersede that. “Barclays   Bank   of   Botswana   continued   to   invest   in technology, service channels and our branch network, deepening   existing   relationships   and   acquiring   new clients in target segments. Along      with      cross-selling      and      other      revenue diversification initiatives, we have achieved a 10% rise in non-interest income and a 5% increase in income on a normalised basis.

During   the   2018   financial   year,   our   strong   product development capabilities facilitated a swift response to improvement in the investment environment. Furthermore, our extensive branch network and market knowledge reinforced our position as part of a leading financial services group that Botswana can be proud of. This  performance  underscores  that  we  are  focused  on our  chosen  sectors  where  we  can  have  the  biggest impact  on  the  customer  and  that  offers  the  greatest opportunities for our group. With    “Brand    leadership”,    where    we    are    putting customers  first  in  everything  that  we  do,  now  in  full swing,  there  is  no  doubt  that  we  will  continue  to  be laser-focused  when  it  comes  to  attaining  our  leading position in the market”.

The bank has been contributing to both the corporate and business portfolio to levels never seen before. “In  the  past  five  years  we  have  grown  the  revenue contribution    from    the    Corporate    and    Business Banking portfolio from 19% in 2014 to 29% in 2018 We have made significant progress in Business Banking as we delivered   the   customer   value   propositions whilst creating strategic partnerships to provide credit guarantees  to  the  underserved  small  businesses  that otherwise would not have been able to access some of the   banking  solutions   that   they  required  for  their businesses to succeed.

One of our priorities was to grow our Retail Banking with a focus on secured lending. At the  start  of  our  transformation  agenda,  unsecured assets  stood  at  61.8%  of  the  total  asset  book,  as  a December 2018, we had reduced it to 44% of the total asset book. I  am  pleased  to  say  that  during  our  transformation journey we have upgraded all 114 ATMs to intelligent ATMs, allowing customers to do  cash deposits; cash send and use other functionalities. We have also invested in an intelligent, mobile ATM which enabled us to take ATM banking services to our customers at various events anywhere, anytime.”

On the education front, the bank reignited the former president’s Mogae’s education fund. “We re-launched the F.G.  Mogae  Scholarship  program with  an  increased  investment  of  3  Million  Pula,  which allowed  38  Batswana  to  pursue  their  master’s  degree with various universities across Botswana  is   gaining   traction with  an  increasing  number  of  individuals  utilizing  our mobile money platforms. Tax of 638 million pula for the year ended 31 December 2018 on a normalised basis, representing a growth of 14%, year on year.” Another first for Barclays Bank Botswana is that another woman is replacing the affable van der Merwe, Keabetswe Pheko Moshakane. Speaking on her appointment the Group Chairman said “Reinette will be leaving at the end of the month; she has been an illustrious worker. While waiting for regulatory procedure and after due process the bank has appointed Keabetswe Pheko Moshakane as the new MD. The board has no doubt that she will continue to add great value to the organisation.”

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