What have been the highlights for Barclays over 2015?
We had two main goals for 2015. One of these was to build and expand our brand. We reshaped our strategy at the beginning of 2014, and one of the ideas that emerged from that was to position our brand in a different and unique way in this market. Last year was really the first complete year of this new strategy. Our other goal was more related to redesigning our financial operations, given that in recent years our operation was not as profitable as before, so it became critical for us to create a more sustainable business model. We have succeeded in both of these goals. According to the midterm results, and our end of year projections, we have returned to fourth position in the sector, regarding total revenue, which is our benchmark. We had reduced somewhat our position in terms of market share, over the last couple of years, but have now managed to reshape our business successfully with a great focus on our revenue and customer centricity. We see this outcome as a result of the market reaction to our new approach and our differentiation practices. Our revenue line is growing faster than the market average, and we are gaining business in sectors and places where we were not that competitive before. Barclays is also getting positive feedback from its customers. We are quite happy with the qualitative results, which are very important for us since we do not measure ourselves only in financial terms. We have what we call a corporate-led strategy, and our franchise is in fact quite strong and certainly ready to continue growing in the coming years.
What is the role of innovation at Barclays, and how do you assess the receptiveness of the Mozambican market to new technologies?
There is innovation that is visible to the customer but also innovation that you introduce to gain more efficiency and eventually to provide a more convenient service to our customer. Typically a client does not realize that this innovation is going on in the background, but it is a huge focus for us. Banks are increasingly exploring the potential of digital services. People need to relate to the bank and this is where our brand comes in. Mozambique is growing so fast that there is a lot of competition in chasing new business and retaining existing business. Throughout 2014, we introduced a number of digital platforms and some quite interesting innovations that we were still busy rolling out in 2015. The one that is unique is an ATM with deposit-taking functionalities. No other bank in the country, even today, offers this. We have seen a lot of uptake from customers, but it took a little bit for people to actually start using and trusting this new ATM machine, by putting their money in and receiving a receipt. They are used to going to a branch, and it took time for them to start trusting this technology. We are now seeing people reacting positively, and hear that most are seeing great benefits in the new system. In the fourth quarter we also looked at rolling out more products and unique initiatives such as the World Miles Platinum Credit Card, which Barclays has introduced around the world. The main thing that distinguishes this Barclays card is that you can then redeem points from the card and use them in almost any airline across the world. There are also some other sophisticated platforms that we are bringing to corporate customers, which are innovations for Mozambique, but they are not so evident in the marketplace. We have brought in BARX, which is a trading platform for foreign currency, where large corporates can trade different currencies online from their offices, linked to the Barclays systems. I think the oil and gas industry will really enjoy the functionalities that we bring in with that. It is also very much designed to meet the needs of large corporates; for example, it integrates with SAP on clients' accounting systems, in which orders introduced in the banking system will be reflected in their own accounting systems. This is a unique solution for organizations that have millions of transactions and manage treasury functions centrally.
What is Barclay's approach to human capital?
HR is at the core of our strategy, and will remain central to our operations going forward. We are redesigning the ways we source staff, the interviewing process, and our criteria for selecting candidates. We are focusing more on values and not as much on technical skills, and want to foster diversity and hire people who think outside of the box. We have also introduced a new graduates program, which selected top candidates out of several universities already using this new approach. We are very keen on seeing the results of this new internal training and mentoring program, and we aim to provide the right set of skills to each of them and also benefit from the younger “out of the box" thinking these new graduates can bring to our organization in several sectors. If the result is as good as we expect, this program will be repeated in 2016 after the first graduate internships are concluded.
What are Barclays' goals for the coming year?
Our goal is clear; we want to be the best bank in Mozambique, not the largest. It is important to know how we measure ourselves, and not just focus on the market challenges and competition. We want to affirm our presence as a truly local, regional, and global bank, as we understand the country and believe we offer services at the same quality level, if not better, than all of our competitors in the market, especially in the corporate and investment sectors and toward our affluent customers. Mozambicans certainly know that Barclays has inherited the historical knowledge and patrimony from BPD, incorporated in 1977, after the country's independence. We are proud to say that almost half of the people who work at the bank are still from BPD, and carry with them great experience, both from the banking sector as well as a unique market knowledge. The fact that we are part of Barclays Africa Group is also a great asset to us and to our clients, as it is one of the largest financial institutions on the continent and is present in 13 different countries, truly understanding Africa. We have gained of a lot from the knowledge about specific sectors and markets from which we operating from. Ultimately we are a global brand with offices all around the world, giving us the required connectivity and trust to work with global players. We really want to make 2016 the year in which we consolidate this ambition for corporate and investment banking, for commercial clients, and for premier and prestige clients. We are on the right track and I have no doubts that we will be able to fulfill our vision.