Up to ‘four layers of managers’ cut from Absa in restructuring drive

JOHANNESBURG — As Barclays Africa prepares to rebrand back to Absa, the bank appears to be undergoing major pivots that are further resulting in some serious reconfiguration of staff. It will be interesting to see what comes from these changes and whether the bank can become more nimble in future. Already, more banking competition is on the horizon with Discovery and Tyme Bank, as well as the Post Office and Michael Jordaan-backed Bank Zero. – Gareth van Zyl

By Roxanne Henderson

(Bloomberg) – Barclays Africa Group Ltd. has largely completed the restructuring of its South African retail and business banking unit’s executive team and filled most of the newly created positions.

Staff members were notified of the appointments in an internal memorandum seen by Bloomberg News and confirmed by Barclays Africa spokesman Songezo Zibi. The lender, to be renamed Absa Group Ltd. on July 11, had spent about two weeks consulting leaders about the changes, which has seen the division’s management more than halved.

File Photo: Employees pass signage for Barclays Plc outside the headquarters of Absa Group Ltd. in Johannesburg. Photographer: Nadine Hutton/Bloomberg

Absa will now field applications from the rest of the organization to fill four vacancies that remain in the new top structure, according to the memo. The division’s chief executive officer, Arrie Rautenbach, wasn’t impacted by the changes, while deputy chief, Bongiwe Gangeni, who attended the advanced management program at Harvard Business School, was also made head of relationship banking.

This is the first round of management cuts after CEO Maria Ramos, 59, in April reshuffled the lender around four divisions — retail and business banking, corporate and investment banking, rest of Africa, and wealth management and insurance. Absa is pushing to regain market share in South Africa and double revenue from its operations in the rest of the continent after London-based Barclays Plc reduced its stake.

“With a new executive team in place, Absa Retail and Business Banking will now embark on the next phase of changes to achieve a similar alignment across its South Africa operations,” the company said in an emailed statement on Friday.

Here are the other appointments:

  • Tshiwela Mhlantla, who has 21 years of experience in positions ranging from fiduciary services to insurance
  • Head of physical channels Aupa Monyatsi, a former chief operations officer for Barclays Botswana
  • Head of virtual channels Cowyk Fox, who served as chief risk officer for RBB for the past two years
  • Head of unsecured lending Geoff Lee, who headed Absa’s card and payments division for the past two years
  • Head of homeloans Faisal Mkhize, a former CEO of Barclays Bank Mozambique who served as regional managing executive of RBB for the past two two years
  • Head of vehicle and asset finance Punki Modise keeps her position as head of finance

Vacant posts:

  • Investments and deposits, customer-value management, transformation and change, strategic communication and stakeholder management

The retail and business bank’s new flatter structure eliminated as many as four layers of managers, a person familiar with the matter said earlier this month. The changes seek to foster closer relationships between the bank and its customers, as well as among employees, according to the memo. The model also gives each executive and their team “full accountability for delivering on their part of our strategy,” Absa said.

“We have a combination of tried and tested portfolios such as Homeloans and Vehicle and Asset Finance but also new portfolios like Customer Value Management, Unsecured (lending) and Investments and Deposits, among others,” Rautenbach said in the statement. “The thinking behind all of these portfolios is centred on customer solutions rather than maintaining with traditional banking structures.”

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