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Picture: KEVIN SUTHERLAND
Picture: KEVIN SUTHERLAND

Despite economic uncertainty in SA, FNB — which has been named SA’s most valuable brand — is focusing on building even more trust and helping its customers thrive.

Jacques Celliers, CEO of FNB, says businesses and individuals now have the advantage of hindsight. Those that can apply the hard lessons they have learnt will be better equipped to survive the challenges of the next few years. 

“FNB was in no way immune to the many business impacts and challenges of the past year,” he says. “We have once again learnt many difficult but valuable lessons — arguably the most important of which is the importance, for any business, of building a strong, purpose-led brand as a key way of surviving challenges and crises, cushioning against shocks and enabling a quicker return to growth and sustainability.” 

He says the recognition by BrandZ of FNB as SA’s most valuable brand was a testament to 182 years of investment in its brand strength.  

FNB has increased its brand equity across all BrandZ measures, particularly in the categories of meaning and salience. Celliers describes this as humbling, as the bank aims to be a beacon of trust, resilience and help in the countries and markets it serves. This was especially important in the particularly difficult past year. 

Innovative approach

When asked what helped FNB rise to the top of the list, Celliers points to its innovative approach to modernisation and contextual customer centricity, which begins and ends with the concept of trust.

“With a proud history that extends through the ‘Sun and Tree’ logo across the eight African countries where we operate, FNB is built on the ethos of trust, help and ongoing relevance, enabling the progression of our customers and the communities we serve,” he says.

“For us, customer centricity starts with the appreciation of just how much emotion and anxiety is at play when it comes to one’s finances. At FNB, a bank account is not just a bank account, nor is a mortgage just a mortgage or an app just an app. 

“While we certainly ensure we leverage top-end technology, we realise it truly is not about the tech but instead about winning the hearts and minds of our customers. Our approach is to build trusted experiences that help personal and business customers remove the anxiety associated with managing their money.” 

At FNB, a bank account is not just a bank account, nor is a mortgage just a mortgage or an app just an app.

The bank’s use of modern data and technology puts its customers in charge of their finances 24/7. Its teams focus on removing the frustrations associated with buying or selling a home or vehicle, starting or selling a business, getting insured or claiming, doing short or long-term financial planning, or dealing with fraud.

“We have also recognised that, in a highly dynamic global environment, it’s not enough to simply keep offering traditional banking products and services and expect to add the value that your clients need,” says Celliers. 

“That is why we have invested massively into becoming a fully fledged, platform-led organisation that is positioned to leverage digital advances to offer solutions matched to the context of each customer, and add real value to all areas of his or her life. 

“Much like modern music platforms present customers with personalised playlists, so does FNB’s platform journey allow us to deliver highly tailored solutions that transcend traditional banking and meet our customers where they are on their own journeys and help them progress towards the goals and outcomes they desire.” 

Response to pandemic

History shows FNB is not only a fair-weather brand. It has a 182-year track record of responding purposefully in times of challenge. 

Dealing with events such as droughts, fires or floods can bring out the best in mankind. During the Covid-19 pandemic, many people and brands have shown high levels of care and empathy — and FNB has played a meaningful role too.

“While our amazing employees and partners continue to deliver incredible acts of kindness on the ground on a daily basis, a significant component of FNB’s Covid-19 response involved helping our customers navigate their financial affairs both by keeping our business up and running under the essential-services mandate and through various credit and fee relief measures.”

FNB also used its partnerships to help fund and scale critical-care capacity and feeding schemes in the communities where it operates.

“The uncertainty brought about by Covid-19 has highlighted the value of FNB’s brand-building focus over the years,” says Celliers, “and reminded us of the importance of making customer centricity, relevance and innovation the strategic focus points that underpin our brand and strengthens its value, irrespective of the external challenges we, or our customers, may face.”

This article was paid for by FNB.

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