Barclays Africa Group has outlined plans that will usher it into a new era, including rebranding to Absa, after it separated from Barclays Plc.
Announcing the bank’s new focus, its CEO Maria Ramos said having separated from the parent company affords Barclays Africa Group the opportunity to emerge as a standalone business across the continent.
“I’m thrilled to be able to tell you that the name of our business will be Absa – relaunched, re-presented and with an identity fit for the modern new and forward-looking businesses we are creating,” she told journalists.
“The new identity is further evidence of the scale of transformation and change in our business – a new brand for a new banking group. These changes require the approval of regulators in each of our markets to change the name and trading brand for each of our businesses outside of South Africa, but early discussions have been very positive,” Ms. Ramos stated.
Although it still retains the right to use the Barclays brand in the rest of Africa – outside South Africa – for a further two years, Ms. Ramos said the rebranding is going to happen as quickly as possible.
Doing so successfully, she said, will require the bank to simultaneously deliver a new client value proposition with tangible changes in customer experience.
“In this period, we will stretch ourselves to develop the platform for double-digit growth, and build momentum to accelerate delivery.
“We have an opportunity to do something of great consequence and to build a new banking group all of Africa can be proud of. For me and all of my colleagues, it is a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity,” she added.
Speaking on what customers should expect, the Barclays Africa boss said: “They will experience a partner who cares for their future, holds their best interests at heart, and operates to the highest standards of professionalism and conduct.”
She added that: “It will be digitally pioneering, and data-led, understanding and anticipating customer needs and aspirations, helping them bring their possibility to life.
“For the communities we serve, Absa will be a partner to help empower and deliver their future, doing the best for ‘people and planet’ and helping them bring their possibilities to life.
“Our social promise is a point of departure from traditional approaches, and is a lens we will apply to all our decisions at every level of the organisation.”
Maria Ramos played down fears of job-cuts following the changes, insisting that all employees are part of the ‘shared’ journey.
“It is now their time, and an opportunity to shape a new and lasting future,” she added.
The Group, since successful conclusion of the reduction by Barclays PLC of its majority shareholding in it, reported a 4 percent increase in headline earnings in 2017 as impairments declined substantially from a high base in 2016.
Its return on equity, at 16.4 percent, remains strong while headline earnings – a measure analysts use to gauge profitability – grew despite sustained slow economic expansion in some of its largest markets, including South Africa, where it generates approximately 80% of its income.
Barclays Africa Group continues to have solid balance sheet assets of R1.2 trillion and strong capital and liquidity levels – these are measures of the strength of buffers banks have in place to protect customer deposits.