Absa provides financing to multiple BEE initiatives. In one of its BEE transaction financing initiatives, Absa underwrote a project finance revolving facility for R300 million for the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority for the Berg Water Project. This financing is going towards the construction of a dam with a gross storage capacity of 130 million m3 on the Berg River and a supplemental scheme on the Dwars River outside Franschhoek.
Absa has also underwritten a revolving project finance facility for R1 billion and a bridging facility for R100 million. These funds will be used for the Vaal River Eastern Subsystem Augmentation Project, which involves the construction of a 122 km pipeline to deliver water from the Vaal Dam to the Knoppiesfontein diversion structure, which discharges into either the Trichartsfontein or Bosjesspruit dams near Secunda.
Absa’s growth is partly linked to our ability to identify and address the requirements of the emerging market, while growing shareholder value.
Through working with the Financial Sector Charter (FSC) and the Codes, we aim to achieve and exceed where possible:
- True representation in our customer base
- A culture, underpinned by the Absa values, in which all employees can engage and feel a part of
We believe that the key to success lies in highly capable, empowered and motivated employees who, as stakeholders, help shape our group’s sustainable future. As we strive towards a high-performance culture, our key objectives are to value and build diversity (both internally through employment equity and externally through leadership programmes), and to empower all employees to reach their full potential through skills development initiatives.
Due to historical factors, there are people who still experience vestiges of inequality and disadvantage due to gender, disability and other factors. The previous economically-misaligned education system has contributed to the labour market still lacking the adequate supply of appropriately qualified and skilled people, particularly among the disadvantaged groups.
We have therefore committed ourselves to contribute towards redressing this through a comprehensive and robust employment equity and diversity management programme.
Talent pipelines are to be aligned with the employment equity and transformation strategy, and there is a 10-point executive committee plan that seeks to change and make the culture and environment inclusive of all employees. There is also active support to ensure there is accommodation for employees with disabilities, to name but a few.
There is no doubt that transformation and employment equity has taken the centre stage within Absa. The group is currently enjoying the success of not only embracing diversity, but leading it.
Absa supports preferential procurement as a lever for economic transformation and Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE). We are committed to working with our existing suppliers to transform themselves, as well as sourcing products and services from new suppliers that embody the principles of transformation.
For transformation to be sustainable, prices and service levels need to be competitive. Absa therefore assists its suppliers to be competitive through local and global benchmarking and sourcing processes where the entire supplier offering is evaluated, including B-BBEE contribution level, price, service and quality.
By using its buying power, Absa has also assisted many of its suppliers to produce their own B-BBEE scorecard. The number of new verification certificates and the improvement in our own preferential procurement score demonstrates that suppliers have an improved understanding of their current standing and how they can take further steps to improve.
Absa is committed to assisting emerging black small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa to grow and prosper through our various Enterprise Development (ED) initiatives. ED is an integral part of our Shared Value Strategy and contributes to the wider national agenda to promote a thriving SME sector to enable economic and social development in the country.
SMEs face numerous challenges in achieving sustainability and success, the most notable of these being:
• Access to finance
• Access to markets
• Business management skills
Absa, together with our various partners, seeks to assist SMEs to overcome some of these barriers.
In 2004, we allocated 10% stake to black partners through the Batho Bonke consortium. The deal was partly unwound in 2009 (4.99%) and the remainder in 2012 (5.01%), after the consortia sold their equity. Our current ownership score is an aggregation of (i) once empowered always empowered principle, (ii) indirect ownership and (iii) equity equivalent arising from surplus of BBBEE transaction financing.
Consumer Education is the process of transferring knowledge and skills to consumers, future consumers and potential consumers for individual well-being and the public good. The intended outcome of the process is the development of consumer’s knowledge and understanding of the financial sector and its products and services. Consumer Education will include programmes that are aimed at empowering consumers with knowledge to enable them to make more informed decisions about their finances and lifestyles.
Absa Group is a strong, diversified financial services group, committed to making a difference to the communities which we serve and dedicated to unlocking the future potential of our continent. Shared Value is the evolution of our Citizenship agenda that supports our values, purpose and customer centric focus. Central to Shared Value is the idea of creating a virtual link between our own success and society’s progress. We are committed to Shared Value which, for us, means using our core assets and expertise to develop commercial scalable solutions to societal problems whilst deriving shareholder value.
Our Shared Value strategy is aimed at facilitating and creating platforms for contributing to nation-building by delivering on the Group’s mandate through supporting broad-based economic growth, fostering employability and innovation. We have defined three focus areas where we will play a leading role in managing predictable socio-economic risks and challenges:
- Education and Skills Development — To support increased employment opportunities and sustainable livelihoods by enabling increased access to better quality education
- Enterprise Development — Support and enable enhanced formation, growth and inclusion of small and medium enterprises within the economy
- Financial Inclusion — To provide greater, more convenient access to appropriate financial services to the financially excluded, unbanked and underbanked
Shared Value is a business imperative that contributes to Absa’s goals, to the country’s socio-economic development and to making a difference in the lives of the communities where we operate.
The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision developed the Basel II Accord with the aim of strengthening the soundness and stability of the banking system and promote the adoption of stronger risk management practices by the banking industry.
Basel II comprises of three pillars:
- Minimum capital requirements
- Supervisory review
- Market discipline (disclosure)
Absa implemented Basel II from 1 January 2008. The market discipline (Pillar 3) sets out certain disclosure requirements and states that banks’ disclosures should be consistent with how Senior Management and the Board of Directors assess and manage the risks of the bank.
The Absa Pillar 3 disclosure document endeavours to cover the requirements relating to capital-adequacy, risk profile and risk management practices not covered in other public documents or arenas, and as far as these are prescribed by regulation 43. Where considered appropriate some additional information has been included in the document.
As one of South Africa's leading financial services providers, we at Absa aim to change the face of banking. That's why we're totally committed to the Code of Banking Practice, and accept all legally binding judiciary rules as outlined by the Ombudsman for Banking Services (OBS) (previously - Bank Adjudicator). Your experience with Absa is important to us, and in striving towards service excellence, we need your help.
Please assist us by rating our service. After all, it's about listening, learning and growing together. We have defined our dispute resolution process in order to deal with all complaints.
Structure of OBS
Banks agree to be bound by the jurisdiction of the OBS on a voluntary basis, as a prerequisite for membership of the Banking Association. The OBS Office is an independent and impartial Section 21 company (not for gain). The OBS Office reports to the OBS Board — not to the Banks.
Independence of the OBS
The Ombudsman acts independently and objectively in resolving disputes and is not influenced by anybody in making decisions.
Power of the OBS
The OBS resolves disputes by using the following criteria:
- The law
- Applicable industry codes or guidelines
- Good banking practice
- Banking practice in other jurisdictions
- Fairness in all the circumstances
Procedure to resolve complaints
The OBS may make use of the following to resolve a complaint:
- Assessment of the merits of the case
- Mediation between the parties
- A written recommendation describing how the matter should be resolved and the reasons for the recommendation
- The OBS may personally make a binding written determination, based on the law or the Code in a case where a recommendation has not been accepted by all the parties concerned
Jurisdiction of the OBS
The OBS can handle a complaint if:
- The complainant is a customer of the bank
- The complainant — if a small business, partnership, association, trust or close corporation - does not have a turnover exceeding R10 million per annum
- The claim is for R2 million or less
- The complainant has, without success, raised the complaint with the bank
The complainant has obtained (or tried to obtain) a complaint reference number from the bank
- The complaint concerns the bank's own products or services, or advice given by the bank's own staff regarding its own (or another institution's) products
- There has been misadministration on the part of the bank leading to some significant loss, distress or inconvenience
The OBS cannot handle a complaint if:
- The claim is (or has been) subject to legal action
- The case would be more appropriately handled by a court (e.g. evenly balanced disputes of fact, third party involvement and complex issues)
- The bank has exercised its commercial judgement (e.g. called in a loan or increased administration fees)
- The cause of the complaint arose over three years ago
- The complaint is pursued in a frivolous, vexatious, offensive, threatening or abusive manner
The Code of Banking Practice (COBP) is a voluntary code that sets out the minimum standards for service and conduct customers can expect from the bank with regard to the services and products it offers, and how the bank would like to relate to customers.
Absa is committed to meeting the standards set out in this Code. Our relationship with customers will be guided by four key principles, namely fairness, transparency, accountability and reliability. The Code aims to promote good banking practices by:
- Setting minimum standards for banks when dealing with their customers
- Increasing transparency so that customers can have a better understanding of what they can reasonably expect of the banks’ products and services
- Fostering confidence in the banking system
Although the COBP is based on self-regulation and exists as a voluntary code of conduct, there is other legislation, which has an impact on the relationship between a bank and its clients, and therefore has an impact on the COBP.
Acts that have a bearing on the COBP include:
- Consumer Protection Act (2008)
- National Credit Act (2005)
- Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act (FAIS) of 2002
- Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA) of 2001
- Financial Services Ombud Schemes Act of 2004
- Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act of 2000
- Promotion of Access to Information Act of 2000
Should you have any comments, complaints or compliments regarding our service or our dispute resolution process, please let us know. This feedback helps us to learn and to improve our service.
What you can expect:
- To have your concerns and complaints heard
- To be treated with dignity and respect
- To have your concerns and complaints treated with fairness
- To receive a quick and appropriate response to any complaints
- To have your concerns or complaints escalated where necessary
- To be thanked for raising your concern/compliment/complaint
Lodging a complaint
Should you have a complaint, please feel free to contact us via your nearest Absa branch or by contacting us directly via email or telephonically.
Should the complaint not be resolved immediately, Absa will register your complaint and provide you with a reference number.
Within three (3) business days, you will be provided with a resolution or the estimated time required to resolve the complaint. In the unlikely event we cannot resolve your complaint within 20 business days, you will receive a letter of resolution/conclusion on our position or an indication of when we expect to reach resolution. If you are not satisfied with the resolution/conclusion, you are invited to escalate your complaint as indicted in the escalation process.
Internal dispute resolution
Section 10 of the Code of Banking Practice (COBP) deals with:
- The undertakings of the bank with regard to dispute resolution
- The bank's Internal Dispute Resolution Procedures (referred to as IDRP)
- The Ombudsman for Banking Services (referred to as OBS)
- Reference to FAIS
All the banks that are members of the Banking Association have adopted IDRP, which became effective on 1 April 2003.
The IDRP is in line with the requirements of the complaints procedures as defined in FAIS and specifically in the FAIS General Code (referred to as FAIS GC).
The following are required of the banks with regard to internal dispute resolution:
- The bank's IDRP must comply with the standards determined by the Banking Association.
- The bank must acknowledge a client's initial complaint within a set time period.
- The bank must indicate to the client how long it will take to respond more fully to the complaint. This will happen when the bank acknowledges receipt of the complaint and/or negotiates a resolution date acceptable to the client.
- If a client requests it, the bank must provide him/her with information of the IDRP.
- If a client wants to lodge a complaint, the bank must inform him/her how to do so.
- If the client is not satisfied with the outcome of a complaint, the bank must inform the client what he/she can do next.
- The bank must ensure that all staff in branches, client care staff or call centre staff assist a client with any queries and/or complaints.
- The client can use the bank's website to obtain more information or to lodge a complaint.
- Before the client lodges an official complaint with the OBS Office, he/she should first contact the bank to attempt to resolve the issues.
- The bank must give the client a reference number for the complaint.
The National Credit Act (NCA) requires any person who grants credit within the ambit of the National Credit Act, irrespective of the principle debt, must apply to be a registered credit provider with the National Credit Regulator (NCR) before giving a loan or granting credit.
Overview of the National Credit Act
The NCA protects your rights as a consumer by regulating the granting of loans or credit. In short, it makes responsible lending a shared responsibility between you and your credit provider. By making your credit or loan applications transparent, fair and easy to understand, it gives you the knowledge and power to manage your debt effectively and pay it back comfortably.
The Act reminds you that you have both the right and responsibility to understand and question how your credit agreements are structured, what payments you will be required to make, and what the terms and conditions involve.
Which credit agreements are regulated by the Act?
- Mortgages (Bonds)
- Credit cards
- Vehicle finance
- Any other personal finance
- Furniture finance
- Clothing accounts
- Any other retail finance
- Micro-loans and pawn transactions
- Any other type of credit or loan provided to you
How does the NCA benefit you?
The National Credit Act ensures that:
- You are not discriminated against when you look for credit
- You will be getting all the information
- You understand all the terms used
- You understand all fees, costs, interest rates, the total instalment and any other details
- You are offered the best products for your needs and the most responsible lending options
- Your interest rate is reasonable
- You can speak to a debt counsellor should you experience difficulty with your repayments
- You can say no to increases on your credit limit
- You decide whether or not you want to hear about products or services from credit suppliers via telephone, SMS, mail or email campaigns
What can you do to borrow affordably and wisely?
- Avoid buying goods on credit just because you can. Make sure that you really need them and that you can afford to pay for it over the long term
- Always pay off your monthly instalments on or before the due date to keep interest rates to the minimum and maintain a good credit record
- Always pay off the loan with the highest interest rate first. This helps you to save on interest payments in the long run
- Only apply for credit from a registered credit provider, such as Absa
- Give the credit provider all the information they ask for to help them understand how much credit you can comfortably afford to pay back
- Avoid turning short-term debt (like credit cards) into long-term debt (such as your home loan) simply to increase your cash flow now. You don’t want to repay last month’s grocery bill over the period of your home loan, as you pay more interest over a longer period of time
- Live within your means by not spending more than you earn
- Find out what your credit rating is and update your information regularly
What is Absa’s Language Statement of Intent?
The National Credit Act provides that a customer has the right to receive documents in plain and understandable language. The National Credit Regulator has approved for Absa to make these documents available in English and Afrikaans, but should a customer require assistance in another official language, this can be reviewed.
Call the Credit Regulator on: 0860 62 76 27
Call us toll-free on: 0800 41 41 41
Email Credit Regulator at email@example.com
Web address: www.ncr.org.za