Riaan Stassen is surely one of SA’s most successful banking entrepreneurs. Last week he announced his retirement as chairman of Capitec, leaving the bank he helped found only 18 years ago with one of the highest market valuations (on a price-to-book basis) in the world. While Capitec is still a small bank on most measures — its R100bn balance sheet is one-thirteenth the size of Standard Bank’s, the largest in the market — it has caused an outsized level of disruption. That is clear in Capitec’s market capitalisation of R156bn, which places it third behind Standard Bank and FirstRand. With 11.4-million customers, it is among the biggest, with only Standard Bank having more, and only just. Stassen’s influence is clear in the DNA of the bank. He is disarmingly approachable and casual. I doubt he has ever worn a tie in his career. But that was true of Leon Kirkinis too, the very likeable CEO of African Bank, which collapsed into curatorship four years ago. The difference is that Stasse...

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