It’s the quality of service that counts, not the size of the bank
Sasf in Bank has successfully i nt r oduced tr a nsac t i ona l banking to its product and service offering. In layman’s terms, this simply means that clients may now hold a bank account with Sasfin that allows them to move money in and out, and offers transactional leverage to existing accounts that its current clients may already hold with the bank.
This, of course, enables Sasf in to provide the same offering as many of the bigger banks in South Africa, however, there are a number of key differentiating advantages, namely the group’s agility and its core focus on personalised service.
Having acquired its banking licence in 1999, Sasfin’s main focus has been business banking, particularly foreign trade as well as small- and medium-sized enterprises. Over the years it also diversif ied into products including corporate f inance, treasury, wealth management, employee benefits, forex, logistics and business insurance services.
The new i nitiative has been spearheaded by group financial director Tyrone Soondarjee, who is also a member of Sasfin Group’s main board. “We accept that many of our clients are all multi-banked, but we also believe that our unique services, based on very competitive pricing, will allow us to become a primary banker to many of our clients.
“When you go to a client you invariably sell just one service at a time. Now, we’re able to say to them, ‘ Switch all your banking arrangements to us, benefit from a larger value-add, and enjoy the nimbleness and agility of a smaller bank, that has the ability to tailor to specific needs.’”
This latest service offering, he explains, is a fresh approach in the industry relative to traditionally commoditised banking propositions. In other words, it is geared to the way clients would like to be served and not necessarily the way banks believe they should be served.
Born in Durban in 1961, Soondarjee matriculated at Chatsworth High School, and qualified as a chartered accountant. “Prior to joining Sasfin, I spent 10 years with Deloitte, wanted to get into the banking industry, and the choice was to go to a big bank or a small bank,” he says. “I finally elected to join Sasfin whose model specifically appealed to me, and came in as group CFO.”
Roger Dunn has been appointed head of Sasfin’s transactional banking unit.
The decision to star t transactional banking was sparked by the realisation that Sasfin urgently needed t o become optimal l y relevant to its clients and improve the customer experience, Soondarjee explains.
“We had continuous conversations over the years on how to upgrade a nd i mprove s er vi c e s for clients. We looked at various applications, had discussions with various service providers and it was in trying to attract deposit cl ients t hat it became obvious that we needed to be a full transactional bank.
“Today, al l y ou r banking can be housed in Sasfin. We offer a full transactional banking platform via electronic banking and the internet and we’re able to provide whatever you’d get at any other bank. This includes being a full clearing and settlement bank.”
The initiative was set up in in record time (one year) with technology partner Direct Transact and the platform went live in early December.
“Our target market remains private clients, high-net-worth individuals, smalland medium-sized enterprises and larger corporates,” says Soondarjee. “That’s the market we understand and to which we’re primarily offering transactional banking products.
“But these will be presented creatively, namely high-tech, high-touch banking applications which we believe will be well received. While we don’t operate on a branch basis, our approach is personalised and our solution is high tech. The full electronic ser vice i ncludes i nternet banking, card service, mobile banking and ATMs. We are not offering retail lending, but this is something we could consider down the line.”
Soondarjee is under no i l lusion, however, that coming up against the ‘ big four’ banks requires a difficult sell, given that banking is largely built on relationships.
“But key requirements sought by clients today are quality service, ease of service and competitive pricing. We believe that we’re able to tick all those boxes. In fact, our offering is very competitively priced.
“Nor do we have the legacy issues of ot her banks. We’ve done t he implementation very smartly, we’ve been afforded a low-cost entry into transactional banking, and, as such, we’re well placed to offer clients a better price for a state of art service. Besides, our solution is centred on ‘pay as you use’.”