Fortune favours the bold — Mangudya

CBZ Bank CEO John Mangudya says his bank is a leader in the market because “fortune favours the bold”. He says at a time when competitors took a wait-and-see approach in the market, CBZ rode the wave. Businessdigest chief business reporter Paul Nyakazeya this week caught up with Mangudya in the capital and spoke of his plans for the bank, his tenure as Bankers Association of Zimbabwe president and challenges.

Nyakazeya: You are now head of the largest bank in the country in terms of deposits and assets. How do you feel and what can depositors and your staff expect from you?

Mangudya: CBZ Bank has grown to be the largest bank, thanks largely to the loyalty of our clients and the commitment of our staff to strive to meet the client expectations. Our clients should continue to expect excellent service and benefit from our geographical spread which now sees our footprint in 59 locations across the country following the amalgamation of the bank and the building society.
As for our staff, we have always believed that we can only best serve our clients if our staff is well motivated to do so and are considered the most important assets, and on that note our compensation system remains competitive in the market.

Nyakazeya: How did you get where you are now?
Mangudya: I got to where I am by the grace of God.

Nyakazeya: What are the biggest challenges you have been facing since you were appointed CEO of the combined banks (CBZ Bank and Beverley Building Society) on April 1?

Mangudya: Generally, the economy is suffering from high costs of conducting business on one side and the lack of appropriate funding continues to stifle production on the other. This has generally seen a stagnation of deposits within the market, making it difficult for banks to perform their intermediary function.

This has also meant that as a bank we have to tighten our belt and identify areas for cost containment and to concentrate our lending on bona fide viable business ventures.

Nyakazeya: The market is puzzled that you are the CEO of the combined banks, but we understand there is another group CEO; what is the link between the two roles and do you report to him?
Mangudya: Following the amalgamation of the operations of the bank and the building society, I became the chief executive officer of the enlarged bank which is 100% owned by CBZ Holdings. The holdings company is the listed entity and is headed by the group chief executive officer. The group chief executive officer is a strategic figurehead who sets strategy for the entire group.
He reports to the board of the holding company. The managing directors of the subsidiary companies that include Datvest (CBZ Asset Managers), CBZ Securities, CBZ Properties and the Insurance Company and myself report directly to the respective boards of directors of each entity in line with good corporate governance.
The Group CEO sits on all these boards. To be clearer, I work with the Group CEO but do not report to him.

Nyakazeya: You headed the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe for two consecutive years during the most difficult time in the financial sector. What where your biggest achievements and challenges?
Mangudya: The normal term of office is a year but members requested that I serve for another term. Challenges were wide and varied to include, foreign currency shortages, cash shortages and managing customer expectations in a hyperinflationary environment.

Nyakazeya: The market says “CBZ has assumed the role of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)” since dollarisation (offering loans at a large scale). What do you say to this?
Mangudya:  We did not and we cannot assume the role of RBZ.  What sets us apart from other banks is that when dollarisation started, we were very optimistic whilst the market decided to wait and see as they were still trying to digest the implications of the policy changes which were very significant to the whole economy.
Fortune favours the bold, and indeed we were bold to vouch to fund civil servants salaries when the market was not so sure whether the government of national unity would last.
We also took the lead to structure and fund the agricultural input scheme when the market was unwilling to do so and the fuel transactions that you have referred to. But look, it has been here and everyone now clamors for the very business from government, business that they had been shunning. It’s very interesting.

Nyakazeya: Some bankers say CBZ is big and earning high profits because it is given preferential treatment by government to handle most of its deals such as fertilisers and fuel. What do you say to this?
Mangudya: Like I said to you earlier on, we took a first mover advantage and it has paid off. We took a calculated risk by having faith in the new economic system and the return we got is that we were ahead of the market in getting deposits and unfortunately this is now being misconstrued by the same people who did not want to touch government as a client as preferential treatment. It is called hypocrisy.  We are, however, not concerned about that as we knew all along that we would have competition for deposits so we decided to lend to good corporate and in turn this has created a good source of deposits for ourselves.

Nyakazeya: Do you think some banks should have been closed in 2004?
Mangudya: Let’s pass on this one. I do not have the habit of opening old wounds.

Nyakazeya: You are a businessman in your own right and also head the biggest bank in the country. How do you balance the two?
Mangudya: Through employing the right caliber of people and entrusting the team members. I enjoy working with people. This way, by giving them targets, I manage to get things done.

Nyakazeya: Who is Mangudya?
Mangudya: John Mangudya is a modest and unassuming man who was born and bred in a rural set up. He is the last born in a family of 12. He is a man of humility, caring, open minded and God fearing.
He works hard for a living and he makes it a policy to finish whatever he starts and is blessed with a gift of peace loving. He has 24 years experience in commercial and international banking and has great passion for structured commodity financing.

Nyakazeya: What drives and motivates you as a person?
Mangudya: Passion for work and dedication to succeed.

Nyakazeya: Which Zimbabwean bankers do you respect and why?
Mangudya: I respect the bankers in Zimbabwe for working tirelessly during the most difficult times in the economic history of this country during the hyperinflationary period. They managed to hold on. They are resilient.

By Paul Nyakazeya

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