Understanding our clients

Putting our clients at the centre of everything we do

We stand by our customers and clients during the good times and the bad times.

Our clients are the reason we are in business. To provide them with the products and services they need, we need to understand them. That means getting to know the environments in which they live and work, their immediate needs and their long-term plans in respect of their careers, their businesses, their personal lives and their families. We work toward building a more prosperous Africa by helping to manage, grow and protect what is important to our clients.

Why this is important

Our commitment to Africa includes a commitment to continually expanding our customers and client base in our countries of operation. Achieving this expansion in a competitive environment relies on our ability to build enduring, trust-based relationships with the people and businesses we serve. We stand by our customers and clients during good and bad times. We recognise that today’s ambitious student is tomorrow’s corporate executive, and that today’s struggling start-up has the potential to employ hundreds of people in the future.

Gaining the loyalty and trust of customers and clients depends on our understanding their needs and expectations, and our ability to tailor the products and services we offer them – from taking out a student loan, to buying their first house, launching a business or planning for retirement.

Within PBB, our main priority in the current market environment is to improve the interaction our customers have with the bank – the customer experience – by understanding and delivering what matters to individual customers. With the support of continuous technological advances, we are providing customers with simpler and more efficient payment and banking products, through integrated channels including mobile banking (MB).

While PBB continues to work toward delivering innovative solutions for low-income customers and emerging enterprises, our core transactional and lending in Africa outside South Africa is currently focused toward higher‑value middle-income and affluent personal customers, and higher-value enterprises and commercial clients. An important contributor to growth in this segment is the progress we have made in expanding our reach across the business banking value chain. In other words, rather than just banking a business owner, we build a relationship with the business owner and offer a range of targeted services to their clients and customers, their service providers and their employees. We are committed to ‘doing the basics of banking brilliantly’.

In terms of our client coverage model, clients are allocated a relationship manager who establishes a client service team with representatives across CIB (including PBB and Wealth representatives where appropriate) to facilitate the client’s banking requirements. By coordinating how we engage with our clients and promoting a deeper understanding of their needs and objectives, we are able to provide the solutions they require. In 2015 we surveyed 1 675 clients (2014: 1 143) across Africa to enhance client understanding and strengthen our focus on clients whose business strategies align with our Africa strategy.

SBW concluded a five-year strategy planning process which will be executed through a new client-focused operating model that uses data analysis, and servicing and distribution capabilities to develop an understanding of client behaviours and needs.

The central tenet of SBW strategy is to create integrated financial solutions for customers. The products and services offered by Wealth includes:

  • Insurance (life and short-term)
  • Asset management
  • Fiduciary and investments
  • Specialised banking and investment services for High Net Worth clients
  • Offshore banking
  • Pension fund administration in Nigeria

This is in line with the group’s intention to place customers and clients at the centre of everything we do, and forms the basis of SBW’s customer-focused operating model which will be implemented in 2016.

How we manage this area

Our focus is on providing convenient transactional products that protect and create value for customers and clients. We start from the viewpoint of the customer and design products and services from there. We make use of universal financial services capabilities to offer customers and clients a seamless set of products and services to meet their personal, business and wealth management requirements. This means working across teams, breaking down business silos and building strong linkages across country operations.

We execute transactions that create value for clients, facilitating the acquisitions, disposals or capital-raising activities that protect and grow their businesses.

Prioritising customer experience

In the past two years, we have focused on building convenient mobile solutions which give customers control of all aspects of their finances on their smart mobile devices. We have launched a banking app (on tablet, mobile and smartwatch), a refreshed IB platform, and introduced mobile payment solutions such as SnapScan, MasterPass, BlueMobi, InstantMoney and WeChat Wallet. Over 22 000 merchants and more than 200 000 customers have signed up for SnapScan, while InstantMoney has processed more than R7,5 billion in money transfers from person to person in South Africa.

A single repository for all customer queries, leads and complaints was established in 2014. Since then, we have made progress in our core banking journey by completing the next phase of improving the experience of customers through the migration of 34 million customer profiles off various legacy systems onto a single customer master file in March 2015. This forms the foundation for capturing and analysing customer data more effectively which will enable PBB to provide proactive, relevant offers to individual customers. Our systems availability and stability to enable our customers to interact with us anytime, anywhere was unfortunately less than satisfactory in 2015 and let down our customers and frontline staff.

We are investigating opportunities to partner with big retailers and other corporates to introduce financial literacy to their employees. Part of that process is also to improve customer awareness and uptake of existing, more cost-effective channels such as InstantMoney, Access Points, Mobile Banking and cash back at point of sale (enabling customers to withdraw cash from merchants’ cash boxes or shops’ cash registers any time they pay by card for goods or services).

Tailoring our service to meet business and commercial customers’ needs

PBB business and commercial banking experienced positive growth in many aspects of the business. The entrenchment of the customer relationship model, supported by technological enhancements, improved the experience of customers. Access to and use of technology by the relationship teams has been a noteworthy development in improving our capability to respond to clients’ needs. The migration to a service model where clients have dedicated service units has also improved the service levels we have been able to provide.

Crucial to the well-functioning of Standard Bank’s small enterprise unit is an in-depth understanding of the needs of the small business. Each customer is different. We have done extensive in-depth research within various sectors that we believe will unlock value for the small business and the bank. Sector propositions were launched in 2015 for tradesmen (electricians, plumbers, welders, etc.), schools (quintile 4, 5 and independent) and attorneys.

We also assisted a select number of small businesses to attend our enterprise development programme in which key elements of their businesses were scrutinised and actions put in place to remedy problem areas. The successful completion of this campaign saw businesses improving their operations and profits with two businesses doubling their revenue as a result of the programme.

Working with the South African government to address the national affordable housing challenge

The group has been working with the Free State government to extend credit to homeowners for improvements to the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) homes, in order to bring them to a level that will enable them to be used as collateral by SME owners against loans from commercial banks. We are now working to extend this model of engagement to the Gauteng provincial government and the National DHS, to facilitate owner-investment in RDP township properties. We are also working with government to address the underserved gap in the housing market of people earning between R3 500 and R7 900 a month.

Opportunities and challenges


  • We see SMEs as the backbone of Africa’s growth and are exploring various opportunities to support them.
  • To address the underserved gap in the housing market, we are extending relationships and partnerships with various government departments and other role players to facilitate owner-investment in RDP township properties.
  • Customers are choosing to move away from high-cost services in branches toward low-cost alternatives, including non‑traditional banking solutions, such as MB, IB, and electronic wallets used for person-to-person payments.
  • We have established partnerships with large retailers and other corporates to roll out financial literacy to their employees, which includes improving customer awareness and uptake of existing channels such as InstantMoney, Access Points, Mobile Banking and cash back at point of sale.
  • In some instances, regulatory reforms have been catalysts for new opportunities. In Nigeria, for example, legislation requiring companies to provide pensions prompted us to target resources to develop this area of business, and we are now the industry leader in the country.


  • Continuing to meet customers’ changing needs and expectations in a competitive environment that consists of traditional and non-traditional competitors.
  • The transformation of core banking platforms has been a complex challenge. We have sought to keep old systems operating while new systems come online, and minimise any disruption to the availability of services to customers.
  • Cybercrime, card fraud, unauthorised electronic transfers and associated robberies (where a customer is robbed after making a cash withdrawal at a branch or while en route to make a deposit), all pose a risk of financial losses for us and our customers as well as a reputational risk. We continue to monitor trends in this area and to develop processes and products to mitigate these risks.
  • We believe local and regional banks currently present more of a competitive threat than global banks, as clients seek financial services partners that are immersed in local markets and have an inherent understanding of the associated risks. To counter this threat, we focus on developing local knowledge and expertise.

Performance overview


Our business performance in ROA aligns with our strategy of expanding our footprint on the African continent; reflected in strong growth of 6% in the number of total customers and clients, with particularly good sales growth in private banking (75%), the middle and upper income personal banking segment (63%) and commercial banking (17%).

PBB’s significant measure for customer loyalty, the globally recognised net promoter score, improved slightly in 2015 from 56 to 58. While the score remains below our objective, it indicates an improvement in customer service across the group supported by employee training and incentivisation, streamlining of customer processes and migration to digital platforms.


Progress in 2015

Addressing the affordable housing challenge.

We are the biggest provider of affordable housing home loans in South Africa, with a market share of 35% of all home loans in 2015.

PBB SA was recognised as the leading brand in consumer banking in the 2015 Sunday Times/TNS Top Brands survey for the third consecutive year. The ranking is based on a representative consumer survey.

Commercial Banking, including SMEs, banks more than 500 000 businesses and according to independent research maintained the largest market share. It was awarded Brand of the Year (Assegai Awards 2015).

Enabling cross-border remittances

SBG aims to be the market leader in cross-border remittances. Having recently concluded a new agreement with MoneyGram, we are able to assist Zimbabweans living in South Africa to transfer money from South Africa directly into an EcoCash wallet in Zimbabwe. The sender does not have to be a Standard Bank account holder, but the recipient must be a registered EcoCash customer. Econet has approximately four million active wallet holders in Zimbabwe.

Supporting eKasi Rising

The South African government has been emphasising township economic development as a mechanism to achieve economic transformation and growth since 2014. Policies have been formulated to transform townships into ‘urban hubs’ that will drive radical economic transformation. Millions of rand have been earmarked by provincial and local governments for the revitalisation and reindustrialisation of township economies. We hosted the ‘eKasi Rising’ dialogue in Jabulani, Soweto in September 2015. The dialogue included representatives from SBG, National Treasury, the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD), the Auditor-General’s office, the National DHS, the Gauteng Provincial Department, Gauteng metros and local entrepreneurs. Issues discussed included improving access to financial services for township businesses and potential entrepreneurs, including access to credit; partnering with government to support infrastructure development; refining our mortgage offering to suit the township market; and supporting the strengthening of linkages between the township economy and the urban formal economy. Speakers included Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu and SBSA’s Head of Retail Banking Segment Sibongiseni Ngundze.

Following the dialogue, the bank has had follow up discussions with the DSBD, the DHS and Gauteng Economic Development Department, to take forward ideas emerging from the dialogue.

Forward focus

  • Partner with SMEs to grow their businesses.
  • Work with government to find ways of extending credit in line with our prudential responsibilities.
  • Find innovative ways to drive financial inclusion.
  • We are leveraging our large footprint in business banking across Africa, to serve the employees of clients. We are setting up branded spaces in workplaces, which will provide access to a device or kiosk enabling electronic transactions. These spaces will also have SBG employees on site for a certain number of hours per week – enabling people to bank without visiting a branch.
  • In bigger companies we will also have an ATM onsite.


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