Category Banking

Absa’s focus on customer and innovation recognised globally

03 July 2013 Arrie Rautenbach, Absa

Topping banking rivals to retail banker award.

Retail Banker International, the London-based banking publication that analyses and reports on the retail banking sector has announced Arrie Rautenbach, high-profile head of Absa Bank’s retail arm as “Retail Banker of the year 2012”, outclassing competitors from more than 300 banks around the world.

With just over a year since Rautenbach took over the reins as head of Retail Banking of South Africa’s largest bank, bringing the customer back to centre stage has become priority number 1.

Rautenbach has strengthened Absa’s operating model and market positioning actively raising his public profile and availability to media. This has led to increased public awareness on the bank’s focus of ease of banking and innovation, while Rautenbach has established a leadership team with a combined experience of more than 100 years to drive this vision.

This is quite a contrast to the old Absa, which now offers a useful budget planning tool on its revamped internet banking site, Absa online and certainly strives to make life easier for clients through innovations such as its App designed for tablets and smartphones and its Payment Pebble, a mobile card-reader device that makes accepting payments easier for entrepreneurs. The device has recently entered pilot phase.

Kicking off 2012 with the introduction of Absa Value Bundles which offer customers competitive monthly fees and rebates for taking up multiple products and Absa Transact, a low-cost banking account with no penalty fees, the bank’s retail arm has concentrated on bringing down costs.

As a result Absa’s Gold Value Bundle was named the best priced bundled offering in the market according to 2012’s Finweek Bank survey. The study also commended Absa’s commitment to pricing simplicity and transparency by noting that changes made to the bank’s fee structures in 2012 were far more user friendly than they used to be and also lowered banking costs for most of the bank’s clients.

The bank will up its retail client base to 13-million following the acquisition of the Edcon store-card loan book, while the prospects of the deal led by Mr Rautenbach will be to convert Edcon clients into primary Absa clients.

Citing these as some of Rautenbach’s achievements Craig Bond, newly appointed CE of Absa and Barclays Africa Retail and Business Banking said: “Customer centricity is a company strategy that requires strong leadership and endless discipline. We are proud that Arrie Rautenbach’s stewardship to drive this vision, taken together with his increased rapport and public profile is beginning to come into focus having earned him the honour of being Retail Banker of the Year.”

Bond adds: “His decision to focus on the basics to make banking easier for customers, relationship-based pricing, while concentrating on digital channels and innovation will play a key role in growing market share and is an important milestone in the furtherance of our goal to become the Go-To-bank.”

Humbled by the award Mr Rautenbach cited new product features and close attention to leadership development, where the percentage of senior management in his team was recruited from internal talent pools, as the main reason behind his accolade.

Says Rautenbach: “Successful leadership development from a build-from-within company is a strategic imperative and a responsibility that I take very seriously for Absa Retail’s current and future success. This will take us from strength to strength.”

He said being known for ease of doing business was still a hurdle within Absa’s midst, however said this win would remind the bank of its promise to put the customer first and to remain highly competitive in the banking industry. “We will differentiate ourselves from rivals offering services particularly through a rich innovation pipeline that will continue to focus on making things easier for the client and putting them at the centre,” concludes Rautenbach.

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