One of South Africa’s biggest banks is making a permanent shift in how it does business

FNB plans to continue modernising its branch network with a strong focus on digitisation and smaller branches to cater for digital and face-to-face client interactions.

Raj Makanjee, CEO of FNB Retail and Private Banking, says that future FNB branches will be 76% the size they used to be, from an average of 460 sqm to 350 sqm.

He said that the bank is also regularly reviewing its branch footprint and location, as well as the services required in the communities where it operates.

FNB built 9 new branches in local markets or communities and refurbished 53 branches in the current financial year. Another 3 new branches are in the process of being built and another 34 refurbishments are in progress.

In the 2023 financial year, FNB plans to build an additional 27 new community branches and refurbish approximately 90 branches, Makanjee said.

“While we promote the digitisation of services to make our clients’ lives convenient and easier, we also recognise that there is no technological substitute for personalised advice.

“As a result, we believe that clients who use our branches should be able to perform day-to-day banking through our digital zones, with the option to consult with our experts for human assistance as needed,” said Makanjee.

He added that the bank’s branch network strategy is premised on the modernisation of infrastructure and service models for assisted and unassisted client needs.

Updated workforce

Makanjee noted that the preparation of the bank’s employees in frontline environments is critical to its ability to provide financial services and differentiate itself from other financial service providers.

“Our (employees) in branches are transitioning from administrative to frontline roles to advise clients on how to manage their money better,” he said

FNB is also transitioning its private bankers into private advisors. Private advisors will be equipped and accredited to provide integrated advice to help clients save and invest more while protecting their assets.

According to FirstRand’s 2021 annual report, FNB had a customer base of 10.48 million last year, up 5% from 2020. However, the group reported 4% fewer employees (38,854).

“Traditionally, private banking was mostly about providing personalised services for day-to-day client needs,” said Makanjee.

“We’re evolving our approach towards providing integrated advice across our clients’ banking, lending, investment, and insurance needs. Through integrated advice underpinned by the efficiency of our platform, we want to help our retail and private banking clients realise value across the full range of our solutions and services.

“We are doing this in response to changing client needs and as part of our commitment to providing client-centric solutions,” he said.

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