– Standard Bank’s core focus is the empowerment its clients, on both a financial and non-financial basis

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Aug. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Based on its recent analysis of the market for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) support financial services, Frost & Sullivan recognizes Standard Bank with the 2014 South Africa Frost & Sullivan Award for Customer Value Leadership. Acknowledging SME clients’ need for on-call services throughout the day, Standard Bank introduced a command centre for the processing and turnaround of SME loan applications within 48 hours.

"Standard Bank has refined its micro-finance strategy to offer more secured loans and is currently focussed on improving the management of its current holdings," said Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Ntsolo Setlaba. "Additionally, as part of a differentiated credit extension strategy, it offers financial training to clients rather than simply extend credit. This practice is becoming increasingly challenging due the delicate balance required between maintaining the integrity of the financials while achieving substantial growth rates."

"Receiving this accolade from Frost & Sullivan complements our ongoing effort to help SMEs in tackling day-to-day business challenges by providing them with tangible banking solutions to grow and sustain their businesses," says Ravi Govender, Head of Small Enterprises at Standard Bank.

"As we understand the environment within which SMEs operate, we are well-positioned to offer our customers the right advice, tools and financial support required to promote sustainable growth. Furthermore, we have demonstrated that even in times of economic turbulence, we are able to lead change by providing solutions that truly help our customers progress."

"We are committed to continue working at providing even greater depth and breadth of value to SMEs and other customers. We hope that this award will encourage other organisations to consider developing transformative, customer-focused strategies, by putting customers at the heart of everything they do."

Standard Bank conducts business the traditional way by assigning a relationship manager to every SME to ensure best-in-class management practices; simultaneously, it also offers non-traditional solutions such as the BizConnect portal. This platform remains a reference point for its SME customers in terms of start-up, development, growth, management, funding, and general queries. Furthermore, it assists in improving the daily operations of SMEs while providing them with links and resources to useful content.

Other platforms designed to enhance customer experience include the BizDirect Response Centre, which is an informative television series broadcast on a national channel; the BizLaunch solutions package, which is designed to provide everyday business solutions to entrepreneurs, with an aim to allow them to focus on the more important aspects of their businesses.

Recognising health- and lifestyle-related challenges and their implications on SMEs, Standard Bank, in partnership with Pan African Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, responded with the BizAIDS programme. BizAIDS is an interactive business-skills training programme, combining business-related training with HIV/AIDS and health-related programmes. The programme displays Standard Bank’s commitment to ensuring the sustainability of SMEs and understanding the needs of SME customers.

Interestingly, Standard Bank employs an integrated enterprise-development model that includes financial and non-financial support structures to assist SMEs. The enterprise-development model is used as a platform to facilitate enduring and mutually beneficial relationships among corporations, SMEs, the bank, and accredited business service providers. The premise of this unique model is based on key information, resource, and knowledge exchange between large, established businesses and SMEs.

The corporate/SME alliance was intended for corporations to assist SMEs by providing market opportunities within the corporate supply chain. Meanwhile, Standard Bank motivates corporations, which offer long-term contracts to SMEs, by offering customised financial schemes in the form of discounted rates, financial monitoring, and performance evaluation solutions.

"As Africa’s largest bank, measured by its assets and shares, one of Standard Bank’s competitive advantages in the SME segment is undoubtedly its ability to facilitate access to wider markets," noted Ntsolo Setlaba. "Considering Standard Bank’s presence in 18 African countries, its ability to connect with 13 emerging countries, and its unmatched presence and world-class on-the-ground business experience, Frost & Sullivan firmly believes it is well positioned to service the SME market."

Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this award to the company that has demonstrated excellence in implementing strategies that proactively create value for its customers with a focus on improving the return on the investment that customers make in its services or products. This award recognizes the company’s inordinate focus on enhancing the value that its customers receive, beyond simply good customer service, leading to improved customer retention and ultimately customer base expansion.

Frost & Sullivan Best Practices awards recognize companies in a variety of regional and global markets for demonstrating outstanding achievement and superior performance in areas such as leadership, technological innovation, customer service and strategic product development. Industry analysts compare market participants and measure performance through in-depth interviews, analysis and extensive secondary research to identify best practices in the industry.

About Standard Bank Personal and Business Banking South Africa

Standard Bank South Africa is the largest operating entity of Standard Bank Group, Africa’s largest bank by assets. Standard Bank Group had total assets of R1 694 billion (about USD162 billion) at 31 December 2013, while its market capitalisation was R209.4 billion (about USD20 billion).

In South Africa, Standard Bank provides a full spectrum of financial services. Its personal and business banking unit offers banking and other financial services to individuals and small-to-medium enterprises. Standard Bank has more than 720 branches and over 7 100 ATMs in South Africa. Independent surveys of customer satisfaction consistently place Standard Bank at or near the top of their rankings.

Standard Bank’s personal and business banking products include mortgage lending, instalment sale and finance leases, card products, transaction and lending products, and bancassurance.

For further information go to www.standardbank.co.za

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For more information contact: 

Sihle Bolani
Standard Bank
T: +27-(0)11-721-9354 or mobile: +27-(0)73-710-1459
@: Sihle.Bolani2@Standardbank.co.za

Samantha James
Corporate Communications Africa, Frost & Sullivan
T: +27-21-680-3574
@: samantha.james@frost.com