In 2003 FNB Namibia acquired SWABOU and the bank, its customers and employers have never looked back. Steve Coetzee, FNB Namibia’s Executive Officer Points of Presence, was part of the acquisition and has fond memories of the time.
“Acquisitions are a business decision and never taken lightly as they need to benefit the business, customers and employees and this had been the case with SWABOU. After the SWABOU acquisition good positive growth was evident while employment opportunities were plentiful and there was scope for growth up the corporate ladder. For us acquisitions mean that we are able to offer the customers a wider range of products and services while employees will join a brand that is more than 100 years old and offers myriad opportunities.”
He explains that SWABOU had a very strong home loan book as well as savings and investments while FNB Namibia could offer even more banking options, including online banking, which was not the case with SWABOU at that point in time. “Of course the acquisition meant that we strengthened our home loan book tremendously, while being able to offer customers a wide variety of new products and services. Customers could, for example, get cheque books and had access to many more ATMs and the option of online banking. For many this proved to be a winning recipe. We honoured the promises of SWABOU towards their customers with for example the subscription SAVE and only offered new and other exciting options when the ‘old’ products expired, while also sticking to promised investment and interest rates and in doing so were able to retain most customers.”
Steve adds that any acquisition normally creates a bit of fear and apprehension amongst customers and employees but if the process is open and transparent and looks after the needs of these important stakeholders, it becomes a win-win for all. “There is always a sense of the unknown and people’s understandable reaction is opposition. In the SWABOU case, however, all the concerns and fears of stakeholders were handled professionally and to the satisfaction of all.”
For Steve, the most important aspect of any acquisition is the people element and in this case the employees. “I firmly believe that while the systems, the price, products and services play a role, employees and how their needs are handled can make or break an acquisition. People are the backbone of any organization and we earned good experience from SWABOU in ensuring that we land people softly and comfortably in their new role. It is vitally important that they feel part and parcel of the new entity. After all – we do not want to lose brilliant people and always take their hand to make sure they join us with a smile. Many of the original SWABOU staff is still with us today – which means we have done things right and aim to do them even better in future.”
FNB Namibia Holdings recently announced the intention to purchase PointBreak Holdings, which includes the EBank solution for financial inclusion and transactional convenience via retailers, and investment management expertise and wealth management via the well known PointBreak team. While the sale is currently subject to various regulatory approvals and the competition, with final outcomes due early next year, individuals from either side of the deal have expressed excitement at the expanded opportunities for both customers and employees of the intended end-to-end financial offering the deal presents.