Bank of the future

Chedza Balopi, Head of People and Culture at Stanbic Bank Botswana explains Future Skills as an integral part the bank’s Purpose that includes a tech-savvy staff and treating clients with empathy because Stanbic is essentially “human at heart”. She speaks with KEABETSWE NEWEL.

Bank of the future
Chedza Balopi, Head of People and Culture at Stanbic Bank Botswana

Q: In reaction to the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), Stanbic Bank is one of the institutions determined to create synergies between itself, clients and employees. How exactly is the bank doing that?

A: We certainly work to ensure we are as prepared for business transformation by means of digitisation and indeed acceleration of innovative digital solutions for the bank of the future in many ways. Stanbic Bank Botswana’s future requires an agile and adaptable framework that inculcates synergy through collaboration, a sustainable infrastructure, and data mining analytics. At the core of this is our ability to continuously upskill and develop our people to take initiative well ahead of our client needs to meet the ever-growing demands within the finance sector.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution was never really only about technology; it is about the insatiable aspiration to augment the human experience and to provide a better quality of life to the human race. This aligns to our own Purpose. Stanbic Bank: Botswana is our Home; We drive her Growth. For this reason, synergy has come naturally. We are adapting well to the new world of work. The continual change has become part of the culture we continue to build daily as we strive to become a client-centric financial services provider. We are on a journey to declutter, refine and innovate, and this is the era to do it in order to improve our client experience.

Q: Standard Bank Group, which is the parent company to Stanbic Bank Botswana, recently unveiled an extended agreement with global customer engagement expert Salesforce to deliver positive digital experiences to its clients. How exactly will this agreement work, and how will Stanbic Bank in Botswana benefit?

A: The Salesforce partnership is massive. It is an incredible investment for us as a business and across Standard Bank Group. While it fully aligns with our country strategy of becoming a future-ready business, it also empowers our people to provide an integrated, positive client experience through digital and human interaction that further enhances our digital capabilities.

This is a major step in our business transformation journey. We are on a quest to become a top of mind client-centred platform business that delivers a range of personalised, instantly available solutions, always on services and opportunities, enabled by modern digital technologies and delivered to client specification. Our goal is to use our data analysis capabilities to build deeper, enduring and more meaningful relationships with our clients. In this way, we are able to transform our client’s aspirations into long lasting realities and further drive Botswana’s economic development.

Our teams are fully leveraging what Salesforce Trailhead has to offer to fulfill strategy, to build a single source of truth across the entire customer base and for personal employee development in areas diverse from their own. The era of specialisation is dwindling and the generalist is firmly becoming a major requisite service delivery. This type of capability build enables a seamless response in service delivery and meets the clients’ changing needs.

Q: Previously the Standard Bank CEO announced that the agreement with Salesforce is a major step towards transforming the Standard Bank Group (and its subsidiaries) into a client-centred platform business that delivers a range of individualised, instantly available solutions, services and opportunities, enabled by modern digital technologies and delivered in whatever way a client prefers. Can you kindly share some of these solutions and how they work?

A: Our expanded range of services is provided directly in partnership and integrated with others through a network of relationships, including:

 

  • Digital branches,
  • Banking the unbankable,
  • Platform banking and
  • Platform learning.

 

The bank platform is at the centre of the ecosystem that provides services and solutions to support life and business events to our clients. The capabilities of Salesforce will enable us to leverage clients’ eco-systems and build partnerships with vendors, service providers and employees to co-create customised solutions for our clients. These solutions enable our clients to use the platform to create solutions for themselves, and to do so in partnership with the bank.

Q: Stanbic has also announced its plans to focus on ‘Future Skills’ through extensive in-house training efforts and Human Capital push. Please elaborate what the bank means by Future Skills and how is the staff is being capacitated to support Stanbic as a bank of the Future?

A: Future Skills here refers to the necessary talent, skills and capabilities for us to meet client needs and truly deliver as the bank of the future. The future holds some degree of uncertainty. With it is a vast opportunity that requires our people to make ready for any eventuality. This is our vision and is very much in line with our strategy.

We continue to invest in the growth of our talent to ensure that as we develop our infrastructure and processes, we also deliver on our People Promise. Our learning philosophy places much emphasis on experiential learning, among others. This means we provide cross functional attachments, offer mid-career change assignments, encourage platform learning and on-the-job coaching and mentoring. Employees are empowered to take on projects that have nothing to do with their daily job to build skills further. They are able to implement platform-learnt skills and have these ratified through certification exams through reputable providers as they wish and/or are required.

We recognise the importance of empowering our team to build their careers to ensure they are always future-fit to meet the world’s ever-evolving demands. This endeavour has been cascaded into every channel of development, including client development, employee development and youth unemployment development. Future Skills is not only for the benefit of the bank but also a corporate social responsibility to create awareness within the community that we operate in.

Through the commitment of an excellence-driven team that possesses a wealth of talent, we are able to bring our strategy to fruition. The extraordinary men and women who are quantum shift thinkers are our brand upon whom the integrity and consistency of our customers’ experience constantly relies. Our employee promise means that we empower our staff to turn their dreams into reality by equipping them with the necessary tools and resources to build their future skills.

Therefore, to be truly future-ready, we must provide individualised, instantly available services, solutions and opportunities for our people and our customers. This includes modern tailored digital technologies delivered via multiple platforms. If we are to achieve this, we must develop a robust ecosystem driven by service excellence and create impact-led solutions.

We continue to plant more seeds through the various learning opportunities availed. We look forward to continually reaping the rewards of this investment.

Q: Infrastructure is the new core banking system which allows for more internal efficacy and allows the bank the ability to move towards more internal efficiencies and future innovation capacities. Infrastructure-wise, how is Stanbic positioning itself as the Bank of the Future?

A: Stanbic Bank Botswana has indeed invested heavily in its core banking system. This significant upgrade accelerated our digital transformation journey and unlocks new capabilities for our clients. We are looking forward to some of these functionalities becoming available to our clients in the next few months, so watch this space. These are all part and parcel of our strategic move into becoming a platform business.  

Over and above this, there is increasing demand for personalised services, and to this end we have ensured that we continue to invest and build data science, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI), as well as robotics and automation skills capabilities. These skills are constantly being invested in, learned and worked on. All these skills enable us to better understand our customers at a personal level and to respond to their needs and ask in an efficient and consistent manner.

Q: During such a transformation, how does Stanbic Bank intend to ensure that the customer is up to speed in terms of technological advancement?

A: This is a financial literacy and inclusion journey for both the bank and its client. As we experience this, change-creating awareness and desire throughout is key to our bottom line. The existing public need for greater digital and financial literacy has enabled us to manage this through publicity events, stakeholder engagements and text message alerts. This eventuality tests the readiness of our team’s skills.  Our teams are well versed in supporting our clients. This has created the ultimate synergy of learning and growth between employees and the client.

Q: COVID -19 has shown many the need for technological advancement so as to be able to do business even when normal trading is disrupted. What is the significance of technology to businesses, especially in the banking sector?

A: We cannot escape that today’s world is a digital one and we must adapt or die, as the saying goes. We have always known that the digital revolution sits on the horizon. COVID-19 has only accelerated this process, and the onus is on us to embrace, learn, grow and move forward.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for agility and transformation has become more apparent. We must constantly ensure that we are capable of adapting to any environment that may affect how we do business, and ‘adapting to a new normal’ has quite simply become a way of life for us all, and digitization is also key to this.

Prior to COVID-19, banks had anticipated rapidly evolving client needs for innovation. However, globally, execution was very slow. The dawn of COVID-19 has significantly spurred counter-cyclical investments by banks to solve for unique and urgent challenges faced by clients. Some of these urgent challenges are:

  • The need for reliable digital and online services due to health and safety needs, lockdowns, curfews and social distancing;
  • The need for cost-effective banking solutions in response to loss of income and jobs by clients;
  • Innovative support to businesses as a result of economic slump and reduced consumption; and
  • Deepening ESG agitations for sustainability and equity. This is forcing banks to embrace responsible banking to reduce the incidence of future environmental and health crises.

The response by banks has therefore been the accelerated pace of innovation and Research and Development to unprecedented levels. We have and continue to invest here as Stanbic Bank, and we are excited for what the future holds for our customers and indeed our colleagues within the bank from a skills and talent development perspective.