The government of Mauritius has invested quite heavily to develop our island as the hub for business, including shipping, travel, trade, and banking, between Africa and Asia. As the CEO of a bank called AfrAsia, this would seem to tie right in with your bank’s own ambitions… What is your perspective on this strategy, and is this the right vision for positioning Mauritius for its future?
Over the last few years it is becoming clear that Asia which houses the three large economies of China, Japan and India is now the generator of investment capital which seeks deployment opportunities to provide a superior return and risk diversification. Africa which constitutes 54 countries is certainly exposing its demographic dividend and attracting the capital flows at a much faster pace than before.
These investment flows require a facilitation center for control, convenience and protection. That’s where Mauritius comes in. An established offshore financial center enveloped by a track record of peaceful and stable democracy, well embedded legal system, skilled labor force, low tax rate, an excellent banking system which is well regulated and all other facilities which capital requires. Mauritius’s position is further enhanced by virtue of its 17 DTAAs and 19 Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (IPPAs) with multiple African countries.
We selected to service this corridor of investment and trade flows and had our name AfrAsia display our focus and strategy. We believe that we have selected the right and growing corridor and this is likely to witness encouraging growth in the near future and we must equip ourselves and remain relevant to the client base who will be operating in this corridor. Our location in Mauritius is also beneficial as we are certain that this jurisdiction which has an ever evolving Public-Private cooperation in all fields will remain and possibly improve its business friendliness.
In this overall strategy, the objective of AfrAsia Bank is to ‘build bridges between Africa, Asia, and the World’… How, more specifically, do you go about achieving the vision of AfrAsia Bank, and how does your bank contribute to the governments vision?
The reputation of Mauritius as an International Financial Sector of substance rests on the quality on a sound financial structure. As a home-grown bank, we have the key responsibilities to protect the interests of the jurisdiction by maintaining the stability of the financial system and strengthening the country’s appeal as a reliable financial centre and as a thriving hub.
Our business focus in terms of product offerings is directed towards Treasury & Markets, Corporate & Investment Banking, Global Business Banking and Private Banking & Wealth Management. We also have a wholly-owned subsidiary which conducts Asset Management business, designing products which meet the investor’s requirements in this challenging economic environment.
This brings me to the key focus in our business. Banking is a competitive landscape and Mauritius where we are headquartered and South Africa, where we have 2 representative offices, is no different. Our focus, therefore, is to carve a unique space for ourselves. We are attempting to do this by distinguishing ourselves through a serious commitment to Customer Experience and an approach to be seen as finding solutions for our clients and not be product salesperson.
We are focusing on constantly improving our technology platforms and procedures such that they enable us to offer a customer experience which our clients remember. This is necessary as our customer base spans across more than 120 countries and therefore our competition for business is global.
We have also identified our growth by associating ourselves with clients who generate investments and trade flows within Africa, between Africa and the rest of the world and Mauritius is the gateway.
Another major focus of AfrAsia Bank is the development of skilled human capital to shape the improvements to the financial services industry, where knowledge, skill, competencies and capabilities have become key drivers for competitiveness and growth.
The country’s vision is to continue to be an IFC of substance and the compliance role within the financial sector has taken on increasing significance as the scope of regulatory focus continues to expand. Banks are expected to play an expanded role of compliance and active ownership of the risk and control framework. This means expanding beyond offering advice on statutory rules, regulations, and laws.
The AfrAsia Mauritius Open was the first ever tri-sanctioned tournament, endorsed by the Sunshine,European, and Asian Tours. There are those that say it could become one of the top and most prestigious events on the Tour. Considering the name of your bank… how did being the main sponsor of such an event fit into the bank’s overall strategy?
At the outset, the tournament’s objective is to place Mauritius at the forefront and since its launch in 2015, we have witnessed an excellent collaboration between Government, Private and Public sectors, making this tournament truly unique, all working together towards one common vision. We believe the event has established and will continue to establish the “Mauritius Brand” on a global platform and the two key businesses which will benefit more than others are Tourism & Financial Services industries.
At AfrAsia, we have embarked on a journey to position the Bank as an institution which promises to be committed to service excellence and to become an employer of choice. With these strategic goals, having the Brand established and recognized is a significant necessity. The tournament has been a catalyst when deploying our brand globally and remains a perfect fit for us.
In a relatively short time, AfrAsia seems to have become the preferred bank for investors, including many Europeans… What are you doing differently, or what differentiates your offer from your competitors?
The fact that we have a focused business model helped us to carve an exceptional positioning in the market. As I mentioned earlier, our differentiator comes from the service excellence we offer to our clients. Being attentive to their needs and being there when they need you most remain at the heart of our activities.
Our financial performances as well as the numerous accolades over the years have been a clear testimony of the trust from our customers.We also do understand fully that customer experience is the key to winning, growing and retaining customers. My focus will be to ensure that my team believes and lives this culture of service, ensuring at all times that we offer a delightful customer experience.