Our parliamentary democracy should be a source of pride for all South Africans. Our MPs do their jobs on the portfolio committees with impressive professionalism. This was certainly Standard Bank's experience when we participated in the parliamentary hearings on transformation in the financial sector this past March. The committees' draft interim report is equally thoughtful. On this evidence, our democracy really is getting stronger and so, in that democratic spirit of mutual learning, I'd like to enter the public debate on the role of banks by responding to some of the "Frequently Asked Questions" about our industry. What are banks really for? Banks enable all of us to buy and sell safely and reliably. They often provide the insurance that makes it possible for us to take risks. They attract and reward savings, and they lend savings on - safely - to help firms to invest and create jobs and enable people to afford homes and other assets. South Africa's banks are highly innovative. ...

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