CNBC Africa’s Fifi Peters caught up with Shannon Timothy, Head, Branch Network at African Bank to discuss how last weeks event have impacted the bank:
Fifi Peters Shannon, thanks so much for your time. Can you quantify the damage suffered by African bank due to the recent riots.
Shannan Timothy Fifi we’ve had damage to infrastructure, we’ve had 32 of our branches that have actually been damaged, vandalized during the course of the last week.
Fifi Peters And I imagine that you’re going to tell me that you’re sufficiently covered from an insurance point of view. But can you discuss other costs here related to the repair and rebuild program that you’ll obviously have to endure?
Shannan Timothy So we’re still busy in the process of assessing our actual infrastructure Fifi, I did mention, you know, the damage that we find in terms of our branch networks, and related infrastructure, also the damage that’s caused by, you know, disruption to trade, in the manner that it took, you know, in our case, we fortunate that African bank is a multi-channel bank. So, we are also, you know, able to continue servicing our customers through the remaining portions of our branch network, and also by our digital and internet channels, and our telephony channels.
Fifi Peters What’s been interesting this week, so far, Shannon is a number of companies that were affected by the riots have been issuing statements on the JSE, talking about the reopening of a lot of those stores, and the fact that business is getting back to two usual operations if one can put it that way. So how many of your stores right now remain shuts or how many have resumed normal trading?
Shannan Timothy So Fifi, we’ve got just over 400 stores in South Africa. And it’s just those that were impacted. So 32 of our stores that were impacted in KwaZulu Natal and encouraging that remained closed that this time the rest of our stores have returned to trading normally.
Fifi Peters and what has that meant for some of the workers who work in those branches that right now remain closed?
Shannan Timothy, I think that, you know, at the moment, like I say, feed the branches that remain closed, you know, we proceed with an exercise looking at how to go about potentially reinstating those branches. I think that the one thing that we’ve been clear about, you know, from our CEO, and the rest of the executives is that there will be no job losses. So although there’s been an impact of on those colleagues, you know, we will try and redeploy them or retool them for other purposes, but there will be no loss of job. And like I say, we are currently busy looking at our infrastructure and looking at how best to reinstate those outlets that have been damaged.
Fifi Peters Shannon, perhaps you can also speak broadly, from a strategy point of view as to what this has done to perhaps some of the plans that you had in place for 2021, maybe via, you know, reopening of new branches, and maybe via the potential creation of new jobs as a result that as opposed to the jobs that you can, that you say that you will be retaining, what has this done?
Shannan Timothy So I think broadly, Fifi, I think one of the key things for me is that, you know, we have a crisis management plan. And we were able to invoke their crisis management plan, and we were able to sustain ourselves through this period. As as far as the opening of new outlets go, African bank will not be deterred. You know, at the heart of the bank is putting banking in the hands of the community, and advancing lives. And we continue with we will continue with the rollout of new outlets. I think physical branch banking still has its place in the banking industry. There are a number of communities that have had very limited or no access to financial services in the past, and we’d like to provide them with that. And in addition to that, you know, I, we adopt a multi channel approach. So it’s a combination of approaches to banking and contact with the customer. crunches telephone The digital internet and and apps, banking apps as well. So I think, in a nutshell, you know, we continue, yes, there has been some disruption critically for us. He said, all our stuff was safe, and that we were able to continue to serve communities.
Fifi Peters That is critical, because we have also seen a number of companies issue statements, to say the opposite to say that, unfortunately, there were some fatalities within their stores as a result of the riots. So that’s good to know. But Shannon, as we talk about rebuild and repair, and now from this latest setback that some are calling for South Africa, it is great to hear that African bank does, you know, remain committed to its expansion plans and opening out of new outlets, but at a national level, and in terms of the expectation from national government and leadership. What is African bank calling on them to do?
Shannan Timothy I think, in response to that question, you know, I think my response would be centered more around what we as a bank, are doing for the communities. So, you know, I think that I can comment from an institutional perspective. And from an institutional perspective, you know, we continue to want to serve communities, and take financial services to these communities, especially to the communities that are underserved. I think that would be my response.
Fifi Peters I hear you shying away from the politics, so perhaps maybe different differently puts if Mr. Ramaphosa was asking you right now, as Shannon, you know, what would make your job easier? As a manager of banking in South Africa? What would make your job easier? In terms of including a whole lot more people in the financial system and banking than bank and driving financial inclusion? What would you say to him?
Shannon Timothy I think the element of inclusivity that you mentioned just now is a critical one. I think the more people that are included, you know, in the economy, the more people that are that are able to participate in growing South Africa’s prosperity from an economic perspective. I think the better off we will be. I firmly believe that South Africa is a great country. I firmly believe that South Africa’s you know, full of good people. And I think that, you know, economic inclusion and the development of infrastructure are critical components that I believe very important.