Like rowing, banking is all about teamwork and collaboration

*This content is sponsored by RMB, a diversified financial services brand encompassing investment banking, fund management, private wealth management and advisory services.

By James Formby*

We have chosen to associate the Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) brand with rowing, the ultimate sporting analogy of teamwork and collaboration – practices key to RMB’s success. RMB’s differentiator has always been our collaborative thinking, enabled by our empowering culture and environment, which encourages everyone to reach their potential.


The journey to our partnership with rowing started about 18 months ago, when we decided to spend some time thinking about what really distinguishes us as a corporate and investment bank. We have always been exceptionally proud of our people but have realised that the best talent is not enough to set us apart. Since our inception, we have encouraged an empowering culture which has created an environment where smart people can collaborate to get things done and design unique solutions for our clients. We truly believe that great minds don’t think alike, but when different minds think together they deliver magic when they collaborate.   

At around the same time as our thinking was progressing, I had just taken over as chief executive and used the analogy of rowing – “You focus on the boat” – to encourage people to concentrate on getting right things that are in our control, to help us navigate through a challenging environment. Many of the things that make rowing unique as a sport resonated. In rowing you need to achieve a balance between talented individuals performing at their peak and the right combination of people in the boat, the split second timing needed to win, the level of mental fitness needed by each individual in the boat to last the distance in the race and the fact that every person in the boat has a unique role to play in ensuring the boat reaches its maximum velocity.

We realised that rowing is a “thinking person’s sport” which we felt aligned strongly with our “thinking” brand. And so the concept for our  “Thinking. Pulling. Together.” television commercials was born.

Each of the three television commercials tells a story that illustrates a key element in both banking practice and rowing strategy. Thinking is about mental and physical commitment and preparation; Pulling is about the focus and relentless effort of competing and the importance of not being side-lined by forces outside your control; and Together is about the fact that sustainable success can only be achieved when the best talent collaborates – whether you are in a boat or in a bank.

When we talk about winning, we are talking about our clients winning, and ultimately the broader financial and economic system in our chosen markets. But we believe our slogan Thinking. Pulling. Together. That’s how winning works. holds equally true for anyone facing challenging times.

Our new relationship with Rowing South Africa (RowSA) debuted with three 60-second commercials on Carte Blanche on Sunday 5th June. RMB’s collaboration with RowSA comes as the rowing team prepares for the Rio 2016 Olympics. South African rowing’s stature and popularity has been growing steadily since the men’s lightweight coxless fours won gold at the London Olympics in 2012, and our collaboration will hopefully give impetus to achieving some success in 2016.

  • James Formby is the Chief Executive at Rand Merchant Bank.
  • You can follow RMB on twitter or visit the website.
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