New African Bank CEO looks to DIS­RUPT BANK­ING

Basani Maluleke will be the first black woman bank­ing CEO in SA should she take over African Bank in April 2018

CityPress - - Business - JUSTIN BROWN justin.brown@city­press.co.za

New African Bank CEO Basani Maluleke is look­ing for­ward to lead­ing the bank in dis­rupt­ing the lo­cal mar­ket and pro­vid­ing a value of­fer­ing that doesn’t yet ex­ist. “I think we will do well – that’s why I’m tak­ing this on,” Maluleke said dur­ing an in­ter­view with City Press.

African Bank named Maluleke as the “po­ten­tial suc­ces­sor” as CEO to Brian Ri­ley. She is set to be­come the first black woman bank­ing CEO in the coun­try.

Ri­ley will step down as African Bank CEO at the end of March next year and will be­come an African Bank non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor there­after.

Maluleke has been a board mem­ber of African Bank and its pre­de­ces­sor en­tity since July 2015 – be­fore the launch of the new African Bank in April 2016, which fol­lowed the fail­ure of the old African Bank in Au­gust 2014.

She has a BCom LLB from UCT and an MBA from Kel­logg School of Man­age­ment at North­west­ern Univer­sity in the United States.

Maluleke has over 10 years worth of ex­pe­ri­ence in fi­nan­cial ser­vices and has worked for Ed­ward Nathan Fried­land, RMB and FNB – the last of which where she was head of pri­vate clients.

She joined African Bank as the com­pany’s op­er­a­tions ex­ec­u­tive in July this year.

Prior to join­ing African Bank, Maluleke was an ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor at Tran­scend Cap­i­tal, a cor­po­rate fi­nance busi­ness spe­cial­is­ing in em­pow­er­ment deals.

African Bank is try­ing to get back on its feet amid tough com­pe­ti­tion – as well as the launch of new ri­vals like Tyme Dig­i­tal and Dis­cov­ery Bank – amid a stag­nant econ­omy where con­sumer spend­ing is un­der pres­sure.

“There is no ques­tion that the com­pet­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment is dif­fi­cult. The im­pend­ing risk of a fur­ther down­grade grows larger ev­ery day and makes us all very ner­vous.”

“The thing we are re­ally cog­nisant of is that we are grow­ing off a small base com­pared with the big banks. Our strat­egy right now is about grow­ing by tak­ing clients from those guys. At the mo­ment the fact that the econ­omy is grow­ing very slowly is not a con­cern for us. The key is to de­velop the engine that we are build­ing right now.

“Once we’ve shown a few more sets of re­ally strong re­sults over the next year or two, then we will start wor­ry­ing about SA Inc.”

“We are quite com­fort­able that our strat­egy will get us from a growth point of view. Hav­ing said that, we are wor­ried about over in­debted con­sumers, the sat­u­ra­tion in the mar­ket, the reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment – those things are real.”

“We are fig­ur­ing out how to ac­cess a more af­flu­ent cus­tomer base to fur­ther di­ver­sify our cus­tomer base.”

Away from African Bank, Maluleke is on the board of Sephaku Hold­ings as a nonex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor.

“At Sephaku, I’ve in­di­cated to the guys that, hav­ing been ap­pointed in this po­si­tion, I need to re­view my con­tin­u­ing with them.”

She also holds a nonex­ec­u­tive board po­si­tion at pri­vate eq­uity busi­ness Ata Cap­i­tal.

Maluleke founded a non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion (NGO) called “Get me to grad­u­a­tion” and it is mainly funded by Ned­bank.

“We pro­vide sub­sis­tence fund­ing to ta­lented ter­tiary stu­dents,” she said.

On the topic of trans­for­ma­tion, Maluleke said that BEE and trans­for­ma­tion needed to hap­pen.

“It is mas­sively com­pli­cated and it’s def­i­nitely very slow. I’m see­ing progress. When I started work­ing I would of­ten be the only black per­son in the room. That rarely ever hap­pens now. You are see­ing more and more black peo­ple be­cause of af­fir­ma­tion ac­tion and em­ploy­ment eq­uity.

“Those things are mak­ing a re­ally big dif­fer­ence. With­out them we wouldn’t be see­ing the mo­men­tum that we are start­ing to see. That is def­i­nitely en­cour­ag­ing.”

“In terms of own­er­ship – it’s like com­pen­sat­ing black peo­ple from be­ing ex­cluded from the econ­omy for the last 300 to 400 years. That is re­ally im­por­tant. We have a long way to go there still.”

“Fi­nan­cial ser­vices has fallen be­hind other sec­tors in terms of trans­for­ma­tion.”

On her Twit­ter pro­file, Maluleke says she is “pas­sion­ate about gen­der rights and so­cial jus­tice”.

“Be­ing a woman, gen­der is very close to my heart. So, from a very young age – I was seven or eight – I asked my dad if I could be­come a boy. What if I could be a boy? Boys have all the rights. They never have a cur­few, they don’t have to cook or clean. I thought this would be an amaz­ing time for me if I could just change gen­ders.

“I have al­ways been con­scious of gen­der rights and gen­der equal­ity. I do think that women shoul­der a mas­sive re­spon­si­bil­ity in so­ci­ety and they don’t nec­es­sar­ily have the right level of sup­port.”

On the sport­ing front, Maluleke com­pleted the Com­rades Marathon in 2014. But, she says, the Two

Oceans ul­tra­ma­rathon is her favourite and she has com­pleted it four times.

“I would like to do ten be­fore my run­ning ca­reer is over.”

A key area of im­por­tance for Maluleke is her fam­ily.

“We are very close. I lost my fa­ther in Au­gust. It has been a dif­fi­cult cou­ple of months to re­con­sti­tute the fam­ily.”

“We are a truly ex­traor­di­nary fam­ily.” Maluleke has three sib­lings and two half sib­lings. Her el­dest sis­ter, Tsakani Rat­sela, is the deputy Au­di­tor-Gen­eral of South Africa.

“She is the first black fe­male deputy Au­di­tor-Gen­eral of the coun­try,” Maluleke said.

The thing we are re­ally cog­nisant of is that we are grow­ing off a small base com­pared with the big banks. Our strat­egy right now is about grow­ing by tak­ing clients from those guys

PHOTO: TE­BOGO LETSIE.

CON­FI­DENT

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