FIRST National Bank Lesotho (FNBL) Chief Executive Officer Martin Knollys says he has a “personal mission” to ensure Basotho derive maximum benefit from the financial institution’s services.
Mr Knollys told the Lesotho Times this week that his appointment to the helm of FNBL last September was a “homecoming of sorts” as he once stayed in the Mountain Kingdom during his formative years.
“It is a home-coming of sorts for me to work in Lesotho because my parents were living in Maseru when I was born in 1972, although I was delivered in Bloemfontein,” he said.
“I lived in Lesotho for three more years after I was born. Obviously, I don’t remember much about this beautiful country during that time, since I left as a small boy. But, it still feels like a home-coming moment for me.”
Mr Knollys said FNBL had made significant strides in growing its market share since the bank’s establishment in Lesotho 12 years ago. The institution currently has eight branches in five lowland districts of the country, with plans to build more in the other districts soon. The bank also has an auto teller machine (ATM) complement of 50 around the country.
“My intention is to serve in this capacity for 3-4 years, because I have a personal passion and desire to help transform FNBL for the betterment of the Basotho nation,” said Mr Knollys, who has a 22 years of banking industry experience under his belt.
“While I am here, I will do my utmost to showcase what FNBL has to offer to Basotho for their betterment. FNB is a great brand, both locally and in South Africa.”
He said a solid foundation had been laid over the years for more growth.
“Now is the time for us to grow. So, I believe I was brought to Lesotho to take the bank to its next level,” Mr Knollys said.
“One of the foundations for our growth is delivery of excellent services and the provision of unique and unmatched value propositions. We are building our growth strategy on those two aspects.
“When I talk of value for money, I mean an improved client experience at a reasonable rate. For instance, we recently reduced the prices of three of our busiest transactional accounts by an average of 40 percent. We believe this is a good starting point to improve value for money to our clients.”
Mr Knollys added: “We are also aggressively pursuing electronic banking channels for our clients, which are cheaper for them and more effective as well as being efficient.
“They are cheaper in the sense that an electronic transaction costs less than a manual withdrawal or deposit. They are more effective and efficient in the sense that electronic banking services are available 24hours a day, while banks have opening and closing times.”
He said the bank was also working towards increasing its market share.
“The Lesotho banking industry is going through some exciting times. All the competitors are at different stages of the operational life cycle,” noted Mr Knollys.
“We are at the emerging and growing phase, while our competitors, because of their size and age, might be at the level of maturity, and might be going through the hold and acquire stage.
“Such an environment is very opportune for our growth strategy. When you have 20 percent of market share, you have room for further growth unlike someone already with 70 percent.”
The chief executive said FNBL would continue introducing “creative and innovative” solutions to make banking easier for Basotho.
“At the global level, FNB is a very innovative and technically advanced bank. In Lesotho, we have already launched some of the innovative product offerings, and, as I speak, we are exploring various options to bring in new innovation solutions to Lesotho,” he said.
“We are bringing in solutions which we believe the market is ready for and will enable us to be more competitive and better than what we were in the past.”
Mr Knollys also said the bank intended to increase consumer education initiatives to ensure clients understood the products they introduce.
“We are working towards increasing education of the market on the products and services we offer, and around how they can benefit,” he said.
“The bank also wants improve its corporate social investment campaigns to ensure that they are adding value not only tour customers, but the country as a whole.”