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A bank determined to make a difference with its unique treatment to the client

Interview - November 28, 2012
This bank arises by the jointed efforts of two major reasons: the existence of a reference shareholder Grupo Americo Amorin, and the experience of a team that has operated in Mozambique for over 12 years as leaders
JOAO FIGUEIREDO, CHAIRMAN AND CEO OF BANCO UNICO
JOAO FIGUEIREDO | CHAIRMAN AND CEO OF BANCO UNICO

The recent creation of the Banco Unico and the National Investment Bank is proof of strong growth of the sector. What is your assessment of the solvency of the Mozambican banking?

To make an assessment of the situation of Mozambican banking, we must first realize the story of the country for the past 40 years. After independence, all banks were nationalized in the exception of Bank Totta Standard Ltd., for various reasons that have to do with political, economic and social constraints. This bank played a major role in the sustainability of the system that ruled the country until the 80s.

In the early 90s there is a process of privatization and the major banks that were privatized were: a bank, which at the time was called BPD and the Commercial Bank of Mozambique. At that time, new players in the international market came to invest in Mozambique in the international financial system: Development Bank, Portuguese Commercial Bank and Portuguese Atlantic Bank.

In the late '90s, there was a great need to restructure the financial system, which was somehow unbalanced, comparing the accounts of the major banks operating in the market. There was a record of assets and debilitated strong willingness of the authorities, and the Government itself to clean up this financial system. It was a very rudimentary banking without any sophistication degree.

Around 1999, starts a modernization of the banking operation. Banks brought the electronic payment systems, forms of compensation and managing their modernized client portfolios, sought to introduce some mechanisms and the relationship of products and services to be similar to what was done abroad.

In the beginning of this century the system begins to take its first steps in the cycle of modernization. We live in an environment of high level of interest rates for several difficulties; among them, due to the inefficiency of the financial system, the needs of the economy itself, and the levels of inflation that the country was going through.

It is interesting that Banco Único is born under a context of economic crisis and distrust in banks. How important is for Banco Único to maintain the relationship with their customers and bring that philosophy to be unique?

This name is a dedicatory to our clients, where each client is unique. In our vocabulary, there is no plural for "unique" or "customer". This bank arises by the jointed efforts of two major reasons: the existence of a reference shareholder who wanted to invest in Mozambique and in the process contribute to the country's economic growth, Grupo Americo Amorin, and the experience of a team led by me, that has operated in this market for over 12 years as leaders.

The market was waiting for a proposal of different values, this bank is not another one in the market; all banks offer financing for housing, credit and debit cards, leasing, account shall order, etc., we offer a different relationship between the customer and Banco Único.

We are a bank that draws specific solutions for each customer because every customer is unique.

We respect the individuality, uniqueness and needs of each client. Those values are present in the quality of our services, the way we communicate with the customer as we are concerned by the post-sale situation of the customer.

For example, one day a week, I have a set of cards to sign, so that on the day of every customer’s birthday, he receives a card signed by the president and a box of chocolates;

We have glamour, a touch of class, modernity, interactive screens, and environmental music on the counter. Those gestures reflect our concern for the customer.

My team and I are the oldest financial managers in the financial system and therefore know this market in a very particular way: all the projects, policies and public entities, the circuits and the skills in the area of investment banking.

We are a very small bank; and because of this, we’re a bank with a strong vocation in the field of banking investment to support new investors and partners to invest in the country. We work strongly in the area of financial mobilization, seeking partners, raising funds, etc. for all aspects of banking investment in order to support foreign investors in its relationship with the Mozambican economy.

We have a network of relations, especially with Germany; we have a special relationship with the DeutchBank and other German banks, so it means, and we are excellently positioned in the international market, as regards their relationship with correspondent banks.

What potential you see in the German bank relationship with the Mozambican banking sector?

In specific areas of the investment plan. Banco Único has a strong ability to identify market opportunities and can create credible information that international banks are looking for its customers.
We know what kind of information and how to deliver this information, so that banks reach their customers to create investment in Mozambique. The fundamentals of our bank are governed by standard rules of the international financial system.

What is the importance of communication to position Banco Único in the international market and in what pillars does your communication strategy sustains?

Our communication strategy aims to be identified with each stage of development in which we live. Today, in a launch phase, our communication strategy is in line with our strategy of market penetration, which differs with that we will use, for example, in six months or one year.

Our communication strategy for market entry was based in choosing a market segment that recognizes differentiation in the relationship.

We must define a strategy for communicating with this market segment, and the one we found was geared towards the customer, meaning, there is a communication online, according to the service that the customer would like to have. We never try to sell service’s levels to customers that we could not fulfil because we realize that, for the customer, more important than realizing the level of our services is that there is the realization of those services.

When we say that we will make the customer feel unique, we say that is by the way we treat him, by his satisfaction even after he has used the service, and by the way we react to correct any errors.

We deal with someone who wants, individually, to feel the difference in the relationship and this is only made by a very close and cross communication, from the president to the counter people. Each element must be perfectly identified with the culture of Banco Único. Can’t tell customers that this bank is young and lively if I always introduce myself with a frown.

Happiness is a fundamental communication value of the house.

Each time we do anything, the others copy, as the smiles we give each time a customer enters in one of Banco Único´s branches, and reaches the counter, but I always say, everything in life is copied but the ability to create, one has it or one doesn’t and we do have both: the ability to create as to communicate with our customers.

We created several institutional events: our marketing and communication area work daily with the client, we permanently make quality surveys, respond to inquiries and always communicate with the market. About the stronger financial projects market, we have our peculiar way to get to them, due to the knowledge we have acquired for acting for many years in this market.

Define the concepts in a single word

Success of the organization: Stakeholder Satisfaction of Único Bank
Personal Success: A better world
Risk: Social Instability
Opportunity: Mozambique
Partner: Any economic agent
Unique: Client

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