FirstRand CEO emphasises focus on customers


FirstRand continues to focus on serving its customers and migrating them to electronic channels, says outgoing CEO, Sizwe Nxasana.

“There are a number of things that we continue to do – we continue to focus on serving our customers, migrating customers to electronic channels, managing costs is always an issue [and] has been an issue over the last six years or so,” he told CNBC Africa.

Following the release of the bank’s interim results, Nxasana also stated that the company’s operating franchises are doing well.


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“If you just look at what we’ve been able to deliver over the last couple of years, we certainly believe it is sustainable. FNB continues to do quite well, WesBank has continued to do very well considering the tough economic cycle which affects the vehicle financing business particularly,” he stated.

“RMB [is] growing their profits at seven per cent in the context of the additional credit provision overlays that we created in recognition of some of the exposures that we have, especially in oil and gas in countries such as Nigeria.”

[DATA FSR:FirstRand] reported normalised earnings growth of 15 per cent to 9.9 billion rand for the six months ending 31 December 2014 from 8.6 billion rand for the same period in 2013.

Its dividend per share grew 21 per cent and return on equity increased to 24 per cent in the 2014 period from 23 per cent in 2013.

Profit for the period was up 18 per cent to 11.1 billion rand from 9.4 billion rand in 2013.

Nxasana emphasised the fact that while some countries are feeling the pressure of the recent drop in global oil prices, South Africa is a beneficiary of it.

“South Africa is a net beneficiary of the drop in oil and gas prices, even though we have our own challenges in terms of power, unemployment and poverty. There are pockets of businesses that continue to grow in spite of the fact that we face a tough economic environment here,” he said.

“We continue to serve customers, introducing new innovations, technology to drive not only financial inclusion for people at the bottom but also innovations for small and medium enterprise as well as large corporates, which continue to drive our growth.”

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FirstRand also announced on Friday that Johan Kruger will be taking over from Nxasana, who is retiring after nine years as CEO of the company.

“It is important for the organisation to have new energy, to drive succession planning. For my part, having been here for nine years, I think, is enough,” Nxasana said.

“I’ve always maintained that I don’t think it’s a good idea for a CEO to be in a position for more than ten years, especially in the kind of environment where I find myself. Talking as a shareholder now, it is important that we recognise that we have exactly the right team to take the company forward.”