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November 3, 2020updated 05 Nov 2020 10:14am

Barclays expands its presence in South Africa

By Patrick Brusnahan

UK-based Barclays Bank has a large presence in Africa, and has decided to expand its private banking offering in South Africa. What are the reasons? How are the wealthy in South Africa responding? Patrick Brusnahan speaks to Salman Haider, head of global growth markets at Barclays Private Bank, to gain some answers

Barclays has been awarded a Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services licence by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority in South Africa. Therefore, Barclays bankers can reach out and offer Barclays Private bank products and services in South Africa.

In addition, Amol Prabhu has been appointed Africa market head for the private bank. He will have regulatory accountability for the Africa business. Based in Johannesburg, Prabhu has held several roles for Barclays in the last 15 years, most recently leading the establishment of Barclays Investment and Corporate Banking services in Africa.

Furthermore, Prabhu will aid the bank in delivering the full spectrum of Barclays services for African clients seeking global and offshore solutions.

Patrick Brusnahan: What was the reason for expanding into South Africa now?

Salman Haider: Barclays has a long and successful history supporting clients in South Africa. South Africa is a key growth region with a hugely important and deep market for Barclays, and there continues to be real client demand for a global bank providing a powerful suite of offshore investment capabilities, wealth management services and the ability to benefit from wider solutions of the Barclays group.

As a result of the Private Bank licence, our experienced bankers focused on the South Africa market can now proactively develop and deepen client relationships onshore. We can also start building our UHNW private bank client coverage in South Africa, including the delivery of tailored investments solutions to meet the specific, complex needs of family offices and UHNWIs on a fly-in and reach-in basis. This allows the private bank to offer its full advisory and discretionary product suite and financial services to clients, while also complementing our existing investment and corporate banking businesses in the country.

PB: What are the goals for Barclays’ presence there?

SH: The goal of Barclays Private Bank is to be the offshore bank of choice for South African and African clients across our key corridors – the UK, Middle East and India – and delivering a seamless client experience. This is coupled with the wider ambition to ensure Barclays is providing a holistic offshore solution across private, investment and corporate banking.

The Private Bank licence comes 18 months after Barclays received a representative office licence in South Africa, which enabled us to deliver investment and corporate banking products and services to South African clients, as well as support to global corporates and institutional investors seeking access to the African markets. This expansion represents an opportunity for the private bank to collaborate with other parts of the franchise across the region.

PB: How do you see yourselves attracting wealthy clients? What is the USP?

SH: The Barclays brand is strong and valued in the South African market. Being a British bank that is over 300 years old, with a reputation for providing world-class global private banking solutions across multiple booking centres, and with the full advisory and discretionary product suite and financial services, is a very powerful proposition.

PB: Has there been any investments or products garnering more attention in the South African market than others? Have there been any surprises?

SH: The main surprise has been the sheer volume of client engagement since we went ‘live’ on 1 July. We have had a large number of conversations with clients and prospects wanting to understand more about our offering and invest. The standout product that has been garnering the most attention has been the discretionary portfolio management offering. The track record on this product makes it a compelling investment proposition.

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