We recognise that we cannot achieve our purpose ‘Africa is our home, we drive her growth’ without our stakeholders. That’s why we engage with our stakeholders on a regular basis, to understand their concerns, build relationships and develop partnerships.
Our stakeholder engagement maintains and strengthens our legitimacy and social licence to operate; and builds on our reputation as a socially relevant and responsible corporate citizen. We rely on engagement with a broad range of stakeholders to better understand the social and environmental impacts of our business activities, including indirect impacts arising from the projects and businesses we fund. We are committed to building constructive partnerships with our stakeholders, as part of our efforts to support the development and implementation of effective solutions to the social and economic challenges in our countries of operation. We commit to engaging with our stakeholders in a transparent and constructive manner. Engaging with our stakeholders is an important vehicle for developing social and relationship capital.
Our engagement is governed by our group stakeholder engagement principles. Standard Bank Group’s social and ethics committee approved group stakeholder engagement principles in 2018. These act as a guideline for our operations across geographical areas, while recognising the need to accommodate local contexts. The principles were developed in consultation with our regional and country chief executives across Africa.
We are committed to:
- Constructive engagements with our stakeholders and taking account of their concerns and suggestions
- Being accessible
- Responding appropriately to legitimate concerns
- Maintaining transparency in our engagements
- Ensuring that our code of ethics and our values underpin and inform our engagements
The Standard Bank Group board has overall responsibility for oversight of stakeholder engagement. It has delegated its oversight function in this regard to the group social and ethics committee, in line with the requirements of the King IV Code of Corporate Governance. The group social and ethics committee is responsible for:
- Setting the underlying ethos and direction of stakeholder engagement
- Approving stakeholder engagement standards and policies
- Delegating to management the responsibility for the implementation of effective stakeholder engagement
- Exercising ongoing oversight of stakeholder engagement
- Disclosing information on stakeholder engagement in our external reporting
The group social and ethics committee receives and considers a quarterly report on material stakeholder engagement across the group. Governance standards, policies and guidelines pertaining to stakeholder engagement are approved by this committee. At country level, the board may have oversight of stakeholder engagement in country or may delegate oversight to the executive committee. Chief executives in country are responsible for engagement with material stakeholders in the country.
Group policy, advocacy and sustainability, within group risk, is responsible for developing the governance framework for stakeholder engagement across the group, including reporting on material stakeholder engagement to the group social and ethics committee. It is responsible for ensuring that material stakeholder concerns and issues are incorporated into Standard Bank’s annual assessment of material issues. It also serves as a subject matter expert on developing good stakeholder engagement practices and managing certain stakeholder engagements on behalf of the Standard Bank Group.
Standard Bank’s stakeholders are those individuals, groups, and organisations that materially affect or could be materially affected by our business activities, products and services and performance. They provide us with the resources we need to achieve our strategy and purpose; influence the environment in which we operate our business; and confer legitimacy on our activities.
Stakeholder engagement is part of our everyday business. We engage with our different stakeholders in different ways and strive to be responsive to the concerns of our stakeholders. Given the scale of our operations and the diversity of our stakeholders, Standard Bank has adopted a decentralised stakeholder engagement approach. This means that different teams in the bank meet with their stakeholders regularly on matters of mutual interest, exploring potential partnerships, and searching for opportunities to create value. The issues on which we engage with stakeholders are multiple and diverse. Examples include our employee value proposition, progress in achieving transformation and inclusion, understanding the expectations of regulators, communicating strategy and financial performance, and identifying the needs of customers and clients.
Our proactive engagement with stakeholders informs the identification of our material issues, business strategy and operations, shapes products and services, helps us to manage and respond to stakeholder concerns and expectations, minimises reputational risk and influences our operating environment. Underpinning the decentralised operating model is our ethos of listening to, and constructively engaging with, legitimate stakeholders.
Stakeholders with a direct relationship with Standard Bank
- Delivering consistently excellent client experiences
- Affordable and appropriate products and services
- Safety and security of client data and assets
- Assisting in times of financial distress (with a particular focus on mortgage defaults and repossession in South Africa)
- Ability to compare products/prices
- Access to career advancement opportunities
- Creating an environment where our employees are engaged and their wellbeing is supported
- Reskilling employees to meet demands of rapidly evolving industry and remain employable
- Diversity and inclusion
- Accelerating employment equity of senior and top management in South Africa
- Improving efficiency and return on investment
- Responding to increased competition in challenging market conditions
- Improving performance, including that of Liberty and other banking interests
- Leveraging our partnership and collaboration with ICBC
- We’ve reviewed our internal processes in respect of mortgage defaults and are engaging our stakeholders to improve communication and improve awareness around the options available to assist customers in financial distress
- We run financial literacy programmes to assist customers to better manage their finances, targeting individuals, entrepreneurs and SME owners
- Across Africa, our executives engaged with corporate and business clients in 2018, to explore how best to deliver a tailored, seamless client experience
- We hosted the Nigeria Chamber of Commerce in South Africa, to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation and increase trade and investment between Nigeria and South Africa
- In South Africa, we continue to engage with the taxi industry to see how best to assist clients gain access to larger industry value chains
- We regularly engage with trade union representatives
- We’re keenly aware of the impacts of increasing digitisation on our workforce, and are working with employees to manage these impacts, which include skills development programmes
- We’re participating in industry initiatives to support employees to develop skills relevant for future industry requirements
- We continue to focus on increasing representation of black people at all management levels in SA and have achieved a notable increase in top management representation this year
- We continuously engage with our diversity and inclusion forums on matters of equity in the workplace
- Critical Conversations’ are held on a regular basis focusing on topical issues that give our people a platform to engage with senior executives and thought leaders on topical issues
- The ‘Are You a Fan’ group-wide employee survey was conducted in 2018 and 31 409 employees across all our geographies completed the survey, a 62% participation rate. The employee net promoter score improved from +14 to +23, meaning that more employees are willing to recommend Standard Bank as a great place to work
- We engaged with analysts and investors in South Africa, the United Kingdom and Europe following the release of our 2017 year end results. Analysts noted that we had achieved good results despite the tough environment in South Africa and Africa Regions, and that we are a purpose-driven organisation
- We engaged with a broad range of existing and potential local and international investors in meetings, calls and conferences both locally and internationally. We ensured that key themes and concerns raised were brought to the attention of relevant internal stakeholders, including the board, and considered in our reporting and planning
- Together with ICBC, we hosted the eighth Africa investors’ conference in London. Participants included 46 corporate clients, 204 institutional investors, and senior African policy makers
Stakeholders with an indirect relationship with Standard Bank
- Protecting against cybercrime and fraud
- Treating customers fairly and conduct of banks
- Demonstrating highest standards of ethics and integrity
- Compliance with laws and regulations
- Need for a just and sustainable property rights regime in South Africa
- Access to the formal financial system and financial services
- Access to financial services/ financial inclusion
- Responsible credit provision and the reduction of overindebtedness in society
- Management of credit risk
- Accelerating inclusive economic growth, job creation, financial inclusion and transformation
- Contribution to and promotion of a just and equitable society
- Mortgage defaults and repossession (South Africa), including communication re process and options
- Support to small businesses
- Improving access to energy while managing potential environmental impacts
- We hold regular formal engagements with central banks and other regulatory bodies on policy, regulatory and operational issues, and engage in policy-making and regulatory processes through industry bodies
- In South Africa, as part of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) we participated in engagements with the Minister of Economic Development on proposed amendments to the Competition Act
- Senior managers and executives participated in a roundtable discussion on proposals to amend the Constitution to allow land expropriation without compensation. We also participated in engagements with government at industry level
- SBSA hosted a dialogue with representatives of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) and National Treasury, focusing on fintech, cryptocurrencies, blockchain and regulatory and risk considerations in this area, including the potential impact of automation and digitisation on jobs in the sector
- At the request of South Sudan’s central bank governor, we provided compliance training to government officials within the financial sector
- SBSA proactively participates in public engagements on policy and regulatory developments, through discussions with government departments, Parliamentary processes, and as a member of numerous industry bodies. More detail of these engagements is provided below
- We continue to actively engage and provide input to international standard-setting bodies and have also been playing an important role in creating an awareness of the implications of proposed regulatory changes on Emerging Markets and Developing Economies and on sub-Saharan Africa specifically. During 2018, engagement was mainly with the global Financial Stability Board (FSB), Basel Committee for Bank Supervision (BCBS) and the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA)
- In South Africa, we have participated in various task teams to develop transformation strategies in response to the Parliamentary hearings of 2017 and in preparation for the Financial Sector Transformation Summit to create a consistent industry approach to transformation
- We engaged with various government departments in South Africa to provide more information about our relationship with ICBC and explore opportunities for ICBC to meet with South African government officials
- We directly engaged with regulators in Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia and South Africa on the need for improved efficiencies, digitisation and ease of banking to facilitate financial inclusion
- We regularly host dialogues/panel discussions with thought leaders and experts from research institutes and thinktanks to debate socio-political, regulatory and sustainability issues
- We continue to engage with Centre for Environmental Rights, Raith Foundation and shareholder activists to discuss environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk management
- In South Africa, we’re active participants in Business Leadership South Africa (BUSA) and the Banking Association South Africa
- We host regular bilateral engagements with South African political parties as part of our Democracy Support Programme through which we provide support for political parties represented in Parliament
- We met with the leadership of the South African National Civics Organisation to provide information on our efforts to support transformation, and to discuss support for privatepublic partnerships at local government level
- We are chair of the Equator Principles Association. We chaired the meeting of 50 banks in Washington in October 2018
- As a member of UNEP FI and vice chairperson of the UNEP FI Banking Committee, we are part of a process to develop a set of global responsible banking principles which will guide the role and responsibilities of the banking industry in financing and shaping a sustainable future. The draft principles were published for consultation in November 2018
- In South Africa, our executives met with Advocate Thuli Madonsela, representatives of her foundation and Stellenbosch University regarding their concerns about home repossessions. The Thuma Foundation issued a press statement and several tweets, thanking Standard Bank for our constructive and open approach, and our ‘acceptance of the importance of mainstreaming social justice in banking’
- Standard Bank was the main sponsor of the Responsible Business Forum, held in Johannesburg in June 2018. We participated in panel discussions on youth, innovation and employment; sustainable cities and urbanisation; and small business
- There are times when stakeholders choose to express their concerns through protest marches to our branches or head offices. We have developed a protocol for such incidents to ensure that an appropriate senior representative of the bank is available to receive any memoranda, and that our stakeholder engagement team follows up on resolution of the issues. South Africa experienced a significant number of community protests during 2018, primarily around public service delivery, unrelated to the bank. In some cases, this resulted in branches in impacted areas having to close for a short time, to protect customers and employees. None of these protests were directed specifically against Standard Bank, however
policy and regulatory issues
Standard Bank engages with policy makers, regulators and legislators on material public policy and regulatory matters.
These engagements are conducted in a transparent and constructive manner and are aimed at highlighting the potential impact of policy and regulatory changes on our customers and the economy.
Within South Africa, we’ve adopted an externally assured operating model for the process of monitoring policy and regulatory developments, assessing their impact and providing evidence-based submissions thereon to stakeholders. We maintain a schedule of policy and regulatory developments, which is shared with relevant internal stakeholders throughout the organisation to ensure awareness and readiness for new compliance requirements.
Standard Bank undertakes advocacy in various ways, including bilateral meetings with government departments and regulators, through participating in trade associations such as the Banking Association of South Africa (BASA) and the International Institute of Finance, attending deliberations in Parliament, and by holding seminars with government officials on forthcoming policy changes.
Standard Bank South Africa (SBSA) engaged with government departments and Parliament on several critical issues during 2018, including the implementation of the Twin Peaks approach to financial sector regulation, land reform, consumer credit, regulating the payments system and fintechs, processes related to sales in execution, and transformation of the financial sector.
Standard Bank has had programmes in place for several years to ensure the integration of the treating customers fairly (TCF) framework into our business. In 2018, the draft Conduct of Financial Institutions (CoFI) Bill was released and deals with regulating and supervising the conduct of the financial sector, market integrity and consumer education. In anticipation of this draft Bill, Standard Bank engaged with National Treasury and the Financial Sector Conduct Authority, both bilaterally and through BASA, on conduct issues throughout 2018. We also participated in workshops held by the regulators, including a workshop on the World Bank retail diagnostic report to input into the development of CoFI.
We have been working with BASA and the Financial Intelligence Centre in the SARB to implement the changes to the Financial Intelligence Centre Act to combat financial crime. This is ongoing.
In 2018, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry published the National Credit Amendment Bill to propose ways of assisting overindebted, vulnerable customers. Standard Bank participated in the public consultation process, including presenting to Parliament, both on an individual bank basis and through BASA. In addition, as part of our standing annual stakeholder engagement programme, we met with the Department of Trade and Industry, the National Credit Regulator and National Treasury on the impact the proposals in the Bill are likely to have on customers, as well as additional interventions which could be considered when customers are facing debt challenges.
Standard Bank participated in Nedlac’s Financial Sector Transformation Workshop in April 2018. From the workshop, four working groups were formed. The SBSA CE is the business representative in the group on ‘Market Concentration, Monopolisation, Ownership and Licensing’. The working groups are currently drafting resolutions to accelerate transformation. These will be presented at the Financial Sector Summit for adoption. We are also participating in the BASA working groups to develop industry proposals.
On land reform, we have been involved in engagements with government as part of the broader industry, through collaborations with BASA, BUSA and the Agricultural Business Chamber. These have included presenting in Parliament to the Constitutional Review Committee on the amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution, participating in roundtables with the Deputy Minister of Public Works on the Expropriation Bill, preparing submissions accordingly, and reaching out to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s land reform advisors to further engage on the issue.
The SARB and National Treasury released the draft Financial Sector Laws Amendment Bill which covers the processes to be followed if a bank is in distress and needs to be remediated or wound up in a way that ensures the financial system and economy are safe and customers are protected. This draft Bill also sets up the mechanism of depositor insurance for customers to be insured in the case of a bank closure or distress. Standard Bank continues to participate in the SARB technical working groups to develop these safety and stability mechanisms, and we are working with BASA on engaging with law and policy makers.
Together with some other member banks of BASA, we participated in a positive impact working group led by National Business Institute (NBI). This working group discussed the relevance of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to the finance sector and which goals the sector could specifically make a significant impact on. During 2018, we finalised the sectors goals and associated targets of the SDGs.
We provided input to BUSA on the draft Climate Change Bill, as well as the Carbon Tax Bill. We also commented on the carbon offset regulation from National Treasury released late in 2018.
Our material issues are those that matter most to our key stakeholders and providers of capital, and that impact on our ability to create value in the short, medium and long term. We therefore consider an issue to be material if it has the potential to substantially impact on our commercial viability, our social relevance and our relationships with our stakeholders. Our material issues are informed by the expectations of our stakeholders, and the economic, social and environmental context in which we operate (the triple bottom line).
We measure our ability to create shared value in terms of our five strategic value drivers – client focus, employee engagement and risk and conduct, which determine our financial outcomes and our social, economic and environmental (SEE) impacts. Our material issues encompass the risks and opportunities in relation to each of these value drivers.
While material issues evolve over time, in response to changes in our operating environment and stakeholder expectations, the broad themes tend to be relatively stable. We view the materiality determination process as a business tool that facilitates integrated thinking.
- Deliver a compelling value proposition for our clients in an increasingly competitive environment
- Protect and maintain the integrity of client data
- Work with our customers to mitigate overindebtedness (including sales-in-execution)
- Diversity and inclusion (particular focus on gender equity)
- Transformation in South Africa
- Impact of digitisation and automation on workforce requirements
- Build and retain local skills and capabilities in countries of operation
- Stability, security and speed of IT systems
- Reputational and operational risk associated with third parties, counterparties and suppliers
- Card fraud
- Policy, regulatory, and legal risks in key markets
- Constructive relationships with regulatory authorities
- Increase in physical security threats/incidents in Africa Regions
- Returns on IT investment
- Maintain resilience of our balance sheet
- Improve efficiencies and manage the cost base
- Sustainable revenue growth
- Contribute to job creation and enterprise development in countries of operation
- Deepen financial inclusion across Africa with appropriate digital offerings
- Balancing Africa’s power and energy needs with the negative impact of climate change
- Adaptation to and mitigation of climate change, especially in relation to water in key sectors and markets