SA needs a banking industry 'with integrity'
25 October, 2003
By Charlene Clayton - Personal Finance
South Africa needs a banking industry with integrity and which focuses on its clients, Gill Marcus, the deputy governor of the South African Reserve Bank, says.
Marcus was speaking at the annual awards ceremony of the Office of the Banking adjudicator held in Johannesburg on Thursday night.
Standard Bank took top honours for excellence in dispute management at the ceremony. The award was announced by advocate Neville Melville, the Banking Adjudicator.
Les Barrett, the manager of Standard Bank's customer relations centre won two awards: the independent director's award, for the person who has mastered handling customer complaints; and the individual recognition award, for the person who has provided top-notch customer service, as judged by his interactions with the adjudicator's office.
Nedbank won both the marketing commitment award, for the bank that has excelled in promoting the banking adjudicator to its customers; and the code of banking practice marketing commitment award, for promoting the code of banking practice to its customers.
According to Marcus, a relationship with a bank is about trust; about knowing that one's money is safe, and not being put in jeopardy. Banks can build trust by caring about their clients as well as their money, she said.
Although South Africa has a poor record of looking after consumers, the banking adjudicator's awards are an indication of the progress banks have made in building relationships of trust with consumers.
Marcus expressed the hope that banks would continue striving to earn the trust of consumers. To do so, requires fairness and the ability to listen and take account of what consumers have to say, Marcus said.
But if banks were doing their jobs properly, the banking adjudicator would be out of work, she said. Consumers need to know that there is a place where they can take their complaints and where they can get a fair hearing on the way the bank has dealt with them, she said.
Banks must be soundly managed and must manage money with integrity, Marcus said.
She stressed the importance of good corporate governance in banks. The greater the corporate governance within the banking sector, the lighter regulation needs to be. The government's goal should not be to be too heavy-handed with regulation, she said.
Marcus also called on the banking industry to partner with the regulator. The greater the sophistication of an industry, the greater the need for it to partner with the regulator.