Bank One is a leading Mauritian bank with a regional footprint. Their shareholders, CIEL Limited and Kenya-based I&M Holdings PLC, have a strong footing in Africa – specifically in Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and more recently Uganda –, which grants them easy access to the securities markets in Kenya and Rwanda, positioning the bank as a favourable bridge to the booming East African market.
Guillaume Passebecq, Head of Private Banking & Wealth Management at Bank One, tells more on their strategic positioning…
What are your views on the evolution of the private wealth landscape in Mauritius over the last 5 years?
The private wealth industry continues to experience significant challenges and transformation. Over the last 5 years, the industry in Mauritius has gained more exposure to international standards in terms of both pure banking products and services along with more sophisticated investment solutions. Our business model is mainly based on the fact that Mauritius is known to attract foreign investors. We believe foreign investors look for a more holistic advisory solution that encompasses their needs across a wide range of financial products and services.
Despite a more transparent and robust financial system aligned with international laws and standards, recent EU decisions are forcing Mauritius to reinvent itself as the industry’s development lies even more on internationalisation and its ability to adapt to these standards.
Last but not least, the local private wealth landscape has also experienced significant digitalisation efforts in recent years with the introduction of real-time digital access and strong custody services offer. High Net Worth customers in particular are looking for a more hybrid approach. They want the best of both worlds as they are not ready to forego the human touch while looking for a bank that can provide them with a complete digital banking experience where advisory can be provided remotely.
Due to the context, can you identify the “new” challenges in handling customer expectations?
From a pure banking perspective, customer behaviour and expectations are constantly evolving. Customers are expecting a seamless digital banking experience. Traditional brick and mortar premises, in turn, are being converted into greener and more efficient workspaces allowing for a more pleasant interaction with the customer.
Bank One has fully embraced this wave and invested massively in digital channels. We have revisited our business strategy and operational model to invest in digital channels including a revamped Internet Banking platform, a friendlier Mobile Banking application, a full-fledged Custody platform and an E-advisory platform. Our strategy is focused on customer satisfaction and it is in our DNA to continue evolving with the global market changes.
Furthermore, in every crisis, clients expect more proximity from their banks and a close follow-up of their investments. The current period of financial stress has brought forward the resilience of Bank One’s Open Architecture model, as a multi-management investment solution can be a most efficient way of reducing performance volatility. The global economy has been experiencing dramatic changes since the fourth quarter of last year. We also witnessed negative oil prices for the first time ever. Increased ESG-related transformations, such as climate change, are starting to affect peoples’ daily habits. We believe the current crisis is changing the mindset of some investors with greater emphasis placed on green investments and a fresh focus that looks further into the future. Covid-19 is further accelerating ESG investments, which have seen a steady increase of inflows and better-than-average returns since the beginning of the pandemic. I believe the rationale behind is that this crisis has put the spotlight on vulnerabilities and our dependence on the natural environment.
The crisis has also placed greater emphasis on the security of clients’ assets amidst greater risk and volatility. At Bank One, our primary focus is the protection and growth of client’s wealth. We ascertain their investments are kept off-balance sheet with a trusted depository like Euroclear acting as the provider for securities settlements.
What are the measures taken by Bank One’s post Covid-19, to reframe its digital services?
We are facing a peculiar moment in history due to the depth and duration of this pandemic which forced banks to review their current processes and re-invent themselves. More than ever, we have seen that digital transformation is crucial to endure such a crisis. Lockdown does not necessarily mean shut down. At Bank One, we have been able to navigate through the crisis and ensure normal banking operations are carried out thanks to the digitalisation of our internal processes.
Digital transformation at Bank One is not a project; it is an ongoing process. It is in our DNA to continuously reassess our processes and platforms in order to meet changing customer needs and market dynamics.
A double international award
Bank One Private Banking & Wealth Management has won the titles “Best Private Bank – South Africa” and “Best Product Innovation” at the Global Private Banking Innovation Awards (GPB Awards) 2020 organised by The Digital Banker.