Standard Chartered is celebrating its centenary in Tanzania this year via a renewed focus to bring its market-leading products and services to as much of the population as possible
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Stuart Parker
100 years often represents the end of an era or a celebration of a milestone, but while there is plenty to celebrate, Standard Chartered remains as focused and as driven as ever to bring its wholesome banking services to an emerging nation crying out for such financial evolution.
Opening its doors all the way back in 1917, and having survived the country’s period of nationalisation, the Bank’s reputation and recognisability is undoubted on a global scale, but while its international pedigree continues to flourish, it is the local elements of its strategy that continue to make the biggest difference.
“The name we are constantly referred to as is the ’pioneer bank’,” affirms the Company’s Chief Executive Officer, Sanjay Rughani. “The Bank has been renowned for the amount of firsts it has introduced in the country, including the first ATM machine which we were requested to have preserved at the national museum, and the first electronic Visa credit card.
“We were also the first to introduce web services and online banking, as well as a more high-end product in terms of our priority banking proposition.”
A host of innovative and sophisticated transaction options have compounded Standard Chartered’s ‘first to the punch’ mission; which has taken on new significance in recent years as digitisation becomes more important. A first electronic banking unit and its first bio-metric enabled mobile banking app have gone a long way in addressing inevitable fintech demands.
“Because we are a Bank of strength, we can offer a lot of structured transactions for all kinds of different industries depending on their needs, to which we can customise accordingly,” Rughani continues. “We deliver on efficiency models, we strive towards productivity and we emphasise the importance of alliances and partnerships that allow us to achieve significant outreach.”
A strategic partnership with one of Tanzania’s broadest-reaching local banks represents an opportunity regarding the latter vision; taking Standard Chartered’s exposure from its own six branch dominion, to more than 60 hubs across the country via its new alliance.
The key driver behind each product proposition or strategic expansion is the customer; Standard Chartered Tanzania understands that all of the global experience in the world won’t make a difference if there isn’t a more localised, personnel packaging bespoke to Tanzania.
“Our solutions have been tested in many markets so many of our clients know that we are more dynamic, but what we must do is apply these global products to a local context in order to customise the outreach model,” Rughani emphasises. “As a Bank we cater to all kinds of banking requirements including retail, commercial, global banking, and sovereign entities, but in each case – through our numerous solutions – we customise our categories according to each clientele.
“For example, on the retail side we have introduced our premium ‘priority banking’ offering for these often high net-worth individuals.”
Regardless of the scale, the wealth or the demands of each clientele category though, Standard Chartered adopts the same core philosophy; entitled PRIDE.
Embracing commitments to People, Risk assessment, Innovation, Digitisation and Execution, the powerful new ethos has been embraced on Group-wide level over the past two years, and bridges the gap not just between each category of customer, but between the Company and its client base as a whole.
“When we talk about People it encompasses a dedication to all our clients while incorporating knowledge of the Risk environment to know where to Innovate in accordance with how the context of the industry is changing (policies, regulations, customer behaviour and taste),” Rughani explains. “Meanwhile, over the past 18 months I would happily say we’ve completely transformed our Digital proposition, from user-interface on the internet, to the mobile app, to straight-to-bank services which we’ve enhanced to give clients a one-stop shop of doing banking from their doorsteps.
“And then, in terms of Execution, we have ensured that our clients get the right turnaround times in a busy world where time is of value and of the essence.”
Fit for purpose
At present, Standard Chartered’s footprint across Tanzania is unrivalled. Its initial five physical branches are supported by its electronic banking unit and an aforementioned alliance that now sees its services available across a further 60 outlets in the country.
And that’s just in physical terms. Like any esteemed bank in the modern age, saturation is as much about digital presence as it is about brick and mortar hubs, and it is in this domain where the Company is looking to make concerted investments and improvements to the existing offering.
Rughani details: “We have completely enhanced our digital platforms so that a client, even if they’re 1,000 kilometres away from us here in Dar es Salaam, can receive an in-house solution enabling them – through a mobile wallet – to carry out all of their banking needs in-house.
“Something we’re also looking to implement soon, adhering more to the traditional cash economy, is a series of cash deposit machines. A combination of these two approaches epitomises our nationalistic approach.”
Similarly significant on an internal note has been a host of capital expenditures and structural transformations ensuring that the Bank remains ahead of the industry curve, and once again bringing ideas of efficiency and sustainability to the fore.
A six month journey towards the adoption of six sigma practices has already gone towards 20 percent efficiency gains within the business, while longevity initiatives are largely dictated by an unwavering commitment to personnel enrichment.
“We certainly pride ourselves on recruitment and in the market we are known as the ‘unclaimed university of talent’, as a result of promoting and developing people who have gone on to positively impact the market and economy,” Rughani says. “Our model is simple as a global franchisee with a strict recruitment model: our job descriptions don’t just talk about job suitability but about attitude, ethics and experience.
“We recognise that countries like Tanzania can be a challenge in terms of filling capacity gaps so we make sure that each candidate is fit for purpose and fit for growth.”
Localisation is equally key when it comes to the hiring, training and retention of skills; only four of the Company’s more than 320-strong workforce coming from outside of Tanzania.
This undertone of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is then developed numerous steps further when it comes to strategic alliances, investor engagement, national market knowledge, and charitable activities.
Rughani notes: “We are an international organisation so this allows for a lot of international investor engagement, but we also align our strategies to national priorities and the local economy; and we are also on a lot of committees that are geared towards actually setting up the national economic agenda.”
Sport, equality and the environment all help to contribute to Standard Chartered’s overall influence on the wider communities, paving the way for its evident financial prowess to attract new, more financially and technically savvy, customers.
“We have a focused strategy and what continues to differentiate us is our intent and purpose, and our global mission to be the world’s international bank,” Rughani continues. “We have a relentless commitment to our brand promise, and that promise revolves around us being here for good, and in contributing to national economic priorities here in Tanzania.
“We are not hung-up on products and are constantly evolving them in line with market needs and in the years to come we will continue to provide solutions that others will see as ‘cutting-edge’.”
Of course, having more than 150 years’ worth of Group experience to fall back on aids in getting such solutions heard and trusted, but it also arms Standard Chartered with “the power of anticipation”; an advantage that allows the Bank to create networks, to assess changing landscapes and to serve as a platform for even more concerted growth in the future.
“The Bank has huge ambitions to be recognised as both an international and a local entity, and we balance that equation very well,” Rughani concludes. “100 years is a long time, but even in the past 10 we have won at least 50 or 60 awards while growing 57 percent year-on-year in an industry that is falling 17 percent. And being a truly wholesome and human bank is the reason for achieving such success.”