Greg Davis, Standard Bank: 4 principles for Africa - interacting

In January Greg Davis, CFO Africa at the Standard Bank Group, introduced his key principles for doing business in Africa and elaborated on being in control. In this Expert Insight he talks about the second principle: interacting.

Just to reiterate, with our team that is covering 19 African countries, with finance staff situated in all of them, we follow our 4i principles, ensuring we are:

  • in control
  • interacting
  • influencing
  • and getting the most out of our infrastructure

In this Expert Insight, I am focusing on the second i: interacting - Are we losing touch with the African businesses?

Virtual interactions - communication is key both with Head Office and between countries. It is important to use every channel available to make this a success. Regular phonecalls, video conferences, whatsapp groups individually and as a team keep us regularly in touch.

Visits - there is no replacement for face to face meetings and the value it brings, the opportunities it unlocks and the risks it closes. Visiting 14 countries in 2014 will only be repeated in 2015. Visiting is not about telling but learning, sharing and supporting as interaction to the customer on the ground is what really matters.

Sharing - interestingly, when I visited Kenya last year a junior member of the team asked me how the team compares to that of a more developed market. Intellectually, due to investment in education and international accounting qualifications there is no difference, but the shortage of depth in teams due to the size of businesses means that it is important to unlock the ability to interact. To put this into context, we are talking about country finance teams of 20 compared a finance teams in South Africa of hundreds. So getting interaction pan Africa, where we have a large team of over 300, is something we as a multinational can and do unlock.

Linking finance with the business - interacting is not just with each other as finance teams, but most importantly with the business to support, challenge and report on their objectives.

More to come on what we do with this interaction with the next article on influencing…