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Paulo Sousa

MOZAMBIQUE - Finance

Money Managers

CEO, Banco Comercial e de Investimentos (BCI)

Bio

Paulo Sousa is currently the CEO of Banco Comercial e de Investimentos (BCI), but before this he was at Caixa Geral de Depósitos Group as Central Director of the Financing and Real Estate Business Division and was previously engaged in various technical and commercial functions. He was an active participant in the management and decision-making process of Caixa Geral de Depósitos Group’s real estate business, notably as a Director of various CGD Group companies. He also taught and lectured for many years in several schools, higher education institutes, and universities in the Mathematics, Financial Marketing, Management, and Real Estate areas. He holds a degree in Management from Lisbon Technical University and postgraduate qualifications in Export Strategies and International Marketing from the same Institution.

"I think momentum comes from both formerly unbanked clients and those switching banks."

How would you characterize the role of Banco Comercial e de Investimentos (BCI)?

BCI is one of the leading banks in Mozambique, and of particular importance for SMEs. We are squarely focused on the economic and social development of the country, having become one of the most preferred banks among Mozambicans, and are held in high regard. We have also registered growth over the past few years. BCI is known for taking a novel approach to individual business segments. For example, we were the first to launch integrated business centers, which are unique venues where we serve diverse clients with corporate, exclusive, and retail areas, under one roof. We have also been active market leaders in electronic channels, as well as the biggest card issuer with the most point of sales. We have also registered considerable success in non-traditional channels, such as online banking, where we continue to grow. We have paid significant attention to human resources, having trained and fully prepared our people to be able to provide superlative service quality. In fact, we have won a number of awards, and have recently been named best commercial bank.

What innovative solutions have you tailored to the Mozambican market?

In October 2013, we launched a credit line for Mozambican SMEs. This was the first time that a bank had allowed a 0% spread over the prime rate to SMEs. We understood that pricing was the question, and that there was a barrier to be broken in order to bring the small companies to the market. There was also a need to communicate with the market regarding our new corporate status. Today, we are considering a second line, as the first will shortly reach capacity. This would give us a better picture of the true nature of the market.

“I think momentum comes from both formerly unbanked clients and those switching banks.”

In terms of the SME segment, what is the advantage of working with BCI rather than a bank that focuses solely on SMEs?

We have a wider offer; our specific service model allocates managers specifically to SMEs. We have exclusive conditions in terms of credit lines and not only consider credit needs, but also the day-to-day needs of SMEs. We also look at liquidity management and payment solutions. We provide export and import solutions in order to make a complete offer that matches the needs of such companies. We have also supported many of the activities of the Institute for the Promotion of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (IPEME) to foster the development of entrepreneurs nationwide. We have been working very closely with the government in support of a wide range of new SMEs. We strongly believe that SMEs will be crucial for Mozambique in terms of generating equity. This will indirectly assist larger companies engaged in new projects, and those undertaking new operations, as SMEs are a key link in the value chain in Mozambique.

What is the driver of growth in the retail segment?

I think momentum comes from both formerly unbanked clients and those switching banks. We have notably grown in terms of client numbers, including those for whom we were their first bank. Other clients have switched banks to us, either during a campaign or upon word of mouth recommendation. Today, we are focused on enlarging our client number by catering to unbanked Mozambicans, and this activity is part of the government’s target of enlarging banking coverage nationwide. It also explains why we have opened many branches in uncovered districts of the country. We opened six new branches in 2013, and plan for 12 more in 2014.

Does technology play a big part in reaching rural communities?

Yes, we rely on it heavily to deliver our services. We are even planning an important experiment whereby we will be the first to launch a mobile bank, which will effectively be a travelling branch, the staff of which will enable people to open an account, make deposits and withdrawals, and use ATMs.

What is the advantage of working with BCI for international corporates coming into Mozambique?

BCI is a strong, sustainable, profitable, and liquid bank. We have launched a corporate direct channel with a corporate department that deals with large companies that are settled or want to settle their operations in Mozambique. This is one of the core areas of our structure. We have created specific client managers for these clients, and are banking all of the major companies present in Mozambique. The dedicated desks established to address the needs of specific segments within the economy mean that we have, say, energy, infrastructure, and agriculture-related know-how that allows us to better help with specific projects that require specialized knowledge. Regarding the capability of our own funds and the volume of credit lines, we can handle what we have put in place and the investment banking operation that is able to support large-scale projects, such as project finance, public-private partnerships (PPPs), and corporate banking, and so forth. Once a project’s requirement outgrows our local capacities, we call on the support of our colleagues in Portugal. The international platform of financial groups to which we belong is wide and supports Mozambique’s principle commercial and investment relations. We have a platform in South Africa, and others in Brazil, China, and the US, enabling us to confidently support the movement of capital and goods worldwide. This is a comparative advantage that we have when targeting those clients.

Is increased competition a positive force in the market?

The market is essentially controlled by two banks of significant market share, namely Millenium bim and BCI. Often, what you observe in the banking sector is a leader and group of banks that are chipping away at it; however, in Mozambique you basically only have BCI. There should be a larger number of players here to foster a more balanced market. There is a third level of banks that are facing more serious competition as they are small and cannot adequately compete. Each bank is positioning itself with a general approach, so there is room in the local banking universe for niche services.

© The Business Year – April 2014

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