Maria Ramos, CEO of Absa
Maria Ramos, CEO of Absa

CEO Maria Ramos is determined to use the rebranding of Barclays Africa Group to Absa Group as a springboard to win back market share.

The group’s market share has been decimated in its traditional stronghold of retail and business banking in recent years, losing nearly 3-million clients since 2013.

It has also lost its dominance in the extension of home loans, where it has been surpassed by the likes of Standard Bank.

Ramos explained that some of the losses in market share were intended.

“We did not want to aggressively participate in personal lending at a time when we felt the economy was weak, and where we lost market share in the mortgage market, we had taken a decision to clean up our book where some of the credit metrics looked unfavourable,” she said on Wednesday as the group unveiled its new brand.

Ramos wants to double the group’s share of banking revenue on the continent from 6% to 12%.

Other areas she specifically cited for improvement were the retail and business bank in SA and the group’s corporate and investment banking franchise.

Central to regaining its strength in these markets is a distinct change in the culture of the organisation Ramos hopes to effect. To this end the group has undertaken an extensive consultation process, which has seen more than 30,000 of the group’s 41,000 staff engaged in plans to achieve change.

“We want a culture of entrepreneurship and ownership, as well as a culture of care and respect. We need to get into a new space about thinking about the way we compete.”

This will be fundamental to instilling a culture of ownership and a performance culture that will allow the group to start to win back market share in these key segments.

“We need to restore leadership in our businesses, and we are going to be taking our market share back, by building a scalable and digital-led business to do this.”

The bank hopes to add the final touches to its restructuring by filling key appointments at the retail business bank as well as finding an executive to lead its corporate banking division.