André du Plessis plans to “refocus” after 22 years as the CFO and co-founder of Capitec

André is eager to get around to doing the things he loves, like reading and riding his motorcycle.

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After 22 years of building what he hopes will become the best bank in the world, Capitec CFO and co-founder André du Plessis will be retiring at the end of June this year. However André prefers to think of it as “refocusing”.

André was part of the team that founded Capitec in 2000 as a bank for people who didn’t have access to financial services. “One could say that starting Capitec Bank was adventurous,” he said in an earlier interview with CFO South Africa. “It was extremely scary. It was very difficult, because everything we did was new.”

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Since its inception, Capitec has successfully overcome various challenges, including the 2008 financial crisis, being seen as a risk in the market after the African Bank collapsed in 2014, the Viceroy attack in 2018 and Covid-19 in 2020.

“Although generally negative, the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that we are indeed able to operate effectively digitally, maintain our customer service levels and expectations, and we have continued to grow amidst the challenges that the pandemic has triggered,” André says.

The bank has also won multiple awards, including being recognised twice as the third strongest banking brand in the world in the annual Brand Finance Banking 500 report, being named the best bank in South Africa for two years in a row in the Forbes World’s Best Bank Survey, and many more.

“I think one of the ongoing highlights of my time at Capitec has been observing how our efforts have helped the community,” André says. “We have become their financial friend and have grown with our clients through helping them. We identified a need and have endeavoured to service this need.”

For his role as the CFO of Capitec, André walked away with two out of the 10 awards presented at the CFO Awards in 2019 – the Compliance and Governance Award, and the Finance and Technology Award. He was also awarded the CFO of the year at the All Africa Business Leaders Awards by CNBC Africa in 2019.

He emphasises the importance of teamwork and collaboration and explained that, if it were not for the team, Capitec wouldn’t be one of the leading banks in South Africa today. “Thank you to every colleague, friend, stakeholder, shareholder, clients and especially my wife and family – to everyone who has supported Capitec, and myself, in getting us here! YOU made it happen!”

And it is because of this great success, and knowing that he will be leaving the bank in very capable hands, that André can take a break and leave the CFO role to his successor, Grant Hardy. “I am confident that Grant will do an excellent job if he keeps up the good work he has done so far!” he says.

His words of advice to Grant are to “keep the balance, never stop being positive and believe in yourself, maintain communication, take people with you on your journey and involve them. And always understand the what and the why of everything you do.”

André doesn’t intend to leave his legacy at that, though. “I will continue to be active with Community Keepers, an NGO that provides counselling to communities, mainly children, who need help, which I co-founded 12 years ago,” he explains. “I hope to remain involved with business and the community through connecting with new business owners and entrepreneurs to share what my teams and I have gone through, and to try and better their businesses.”

He hopes that he will get more time to pursue his passion of reading and being adventurous. “I am eager to get around to doing the things that I love, as well as the things I haven’t been able to do in the last while, mainly due to the pandemic,” André says. “I am optimistic that this will include some leisure travel and I am looking forward to spending more quality time with my family.”

He adds that his motorbike will see him more often.