“I believe one of the key causes which affected all banks in the first four months of the year was the benign environment in Kenya due to the past elections,” Jeremy Awori, Managing Director of Barclays Bank, told CNBC Africa on Tuesday.
Awori stated that the Kenyan government elections which took place in March 2013 affected the country’s economy as a whole which in turn had a negative impact on Barclay’s growth in the first half of this year.
“We are in a little bit of uncertain times. There’s a new government coming in, there are budget deficit issues, exchange rate challenges and more importantly, the changes that will be made to interest rates,” he said.
At present, Kenya is waiting to see what direction the new government will be taking to address these key challenges.
Another main cause for Barclay’s low profits is due to a once off early staff retrenchment of 170 workers which cost 788 million shillings. Barclays’ reason for the retrenchment was to manage their staff costs as this proved to be their biggest expense.
Despite these factors, Awori believes that Barclays performed well and posted steady growth in terms of its balance sheet. He also added that growth will be the bank’s main focus for the rest of the year.
“What we found was that we have one of the strongest growths in the first half and that’s what we will be focusing on. We’re focused on growing both our assets and our liabilities and you can expect a strong performance on that side,” he said.
Awori pointed out that Barclays will be investing a lot of time and attention in creating new products and campaigns in order to stimulate future growth.
“We are looking at innovation to differentiate how we do business. We will look at how to bring banking to you at your convenience, on your terms, anywhere and anytime,” he added.
To implement this, Barclays intends on increasing investments in the digital and mobile space.
“For example, we launched dedicated banking apps for Apple, Androids, smart phones and tablets,” Awori explained.
He also added that they will be looking to automate mundane routine transactions so that they can spend less time on those and focus their attention and additional resources on sales growth.
“We’re going to redeploy those costs in a way that will generate faster revenue and growth,” Awori added.
He also pointed out that raising automation will result in a better consistent performance that will be more reliable for their customers and make their front line staff more effective.
Another priority for Barclays is the small and medium enterprise (SME) space.
“We have been playing around the edges of SME and now we want move in more purposefully. We have a clear strategy, structure and investment happening on that space,” said Awori.
“I think we are interested in breaking new ground and changing the perception of Barclays to a really innovative customer focused organisation,” he concluded.