Download this section

Our material matters

Managing matters which are material to our sustainability

We consider a matter to be material when it has the ability to influence our financial performance, our reputation or impact on our licence to operate.

Taking into account our strategy, footprint, business model and associated risks and our operating environment, the table below depicts our material matters within the context of our Balanced Scorecard.

We follow a clearly defined process for determining these matters.

We aim to be the financial services group of choice.

Why this is important to us

Customer service is central to our growth strategy. To retain existing and acquire new customers and clients, it is essential that we remain relevant by offering appropriate, innovative, products and solutions at the right cost.

Key matters raised by stakeholders

  • Access to financial services that are cost-effective, easy to use and convenient.
  • Financial inclusion through products and increased access points (physical and digital) and markets.
  • System reliability and availability to transact on their chosen platform.
  • Service levels and efficient resolution of service failures (complaints).
  • Access to credit and explanation if declined.
  • Protection against fraud and safety of personal data (customer privacy and data security).

Relevant material matters

Ensuring the relevance of our products and services including:

  • solutions designed to meet customers’ and clients’ needs;
  • accessibility through our physical and digital channels;
  • quality of our IT infrastructure;
  • value for money and service excellence; and
  • trust and safety of customers’ and clients’ money, information and personal safety.

How are we responding

We continue to:

  • support customers in migrating to the appropriate products based on their life stages;
  • automate processes and simplify customer and client interactions;
  • use data analytics to build a deeper understanding of customer and client behaviour in order to better serve them;
  • simplify products and services while enhancing digital functionality of our online platforms (Absa Online Express and Worldmiles Travel Portal); introduce new functionalities (for example debit order reversals in South Africa); and innovations such as the Apple Watch app in South Africa;
  • implement systems and technologies such as Front Arena, BARX and Barclays.Net;
  • increase system resilience and stability and implemented a new cybersecurity strategy; and
  • continually increase customers’ and clients’ awareness of cyber threats and how to prevent them.

We also implemented a number of initiatives within our innovation programme including establishing a ‘design office’ to focus on physical design and experiences, creating end-to-end customer engagements, and launched Rise Africa, an innovation community for top fintech start-ups to connect, co-create and scale their innovation ideas.

We create an environment where employees can fulfil their potential.

Why this is important to us

Capable and committed employees serve our customers and clients and advance our reputation, driving our commercial success.

Key matters raised by stakeholders

  • Consistent and engaging communications across all platforms.
  • Seeing our Values in action through leadership and colleagues.
  • Fair pay, reward and recognition.
  • Diversity and transformation.
  • Development, learning and career opportunities.
  • Access to the required systems and tools to fulfil job responsibilities.
  • Employee value propositions including a dynamic working environment, mobility opportunities and emerging skills development.

Relevant material matters

Employing a skilled and motivated workforce through:

  • improving employee engagement;
  • attracting and retaining talent;
  • diversity and inclusion;
  • incentivising performance and rewarding appropriately;
  • skills and leadership development (including succession coverage and new ways of working); and
  • health and wellness.

How are we responding

We continue to:

  • simplify our HR processes and systems to improve employee experience and increase self-service functionalities;
  • recruit in areas of critical skills, most notably in IT;
  • expand leadership and youth development programmes (Colleague Curriculum, Barclays Leadership Academy and the Pan-African Graduate Programme) to include our Management Arts Programme and a targeted programme supporting employees whose roles are impacted by evolving workforce requirements;
  • drive our diversity and inclusion plan; and
  • use the findings of our employee opinion survey to create tailored action plans to address areas needing improvement.

We have a positive impact on the communities in which we operate.

Why this is important to us

We are committed to Shared Growth, which for us means having a positive impact on society and delivering shareholder value.

Key matters raised by stakeholders

  • Management of environmental footprint and social and environmental impacts in lending.
  • Financial literacy support and access to affordable financial services including transactional products, housing, empowerment finance and other lending.
  • Procurement opportunities for SMEs.
  • Bridging the gap between training/education and job creation and between enterprise development, including funding and business opportunities.
  • Funding for community upliftment projects and providing opportunities for employees who wish to be involved in volunteering.

Relevant material matters

Managing environmental, governance and social impacts including:

  • in our lending practices;
  • inclusive procurement practices; and
  • our direct environmental impact.

Contributing to growth by:

  • making financial services accessible to individuals and enterprises.

Contributing to solutions that address socio-economic challenges, such as:

  • education and skills;
  • enterprise development; and
  • employability.

How are we responding

We ensure that the way we do business reflects broader social and environmental considerations. We achieve this through a range of activities including:

  • managing our direct impact on the environment by reducing our carbon emissions;
  • ensuring our lending practices take into account environmental and social considerations as prescribed by the Equator Principles;
  • providing local suppliers with procurement opportunities through our procurement portal and our supply chain development programmes; and
  • creating access to financial services through our physical and digital channels, partnerships and a wide range of products.

Within Shared Growth, our Citizenship approach is focused on three key areas: education and skills development, financial inclusion and enterprise development. We launched ReadytoWork, a Pan-African employability programme aimed at empowering young people with the skills they need to successfully transition from basic education into the world of work.

We act with integrity in everything we do.

Why this is important to us

Doing the right thing, in the right way, is central to long-term sustainability. It enhances our reputation, promotes trust in the financial system and it helps ensure that we provide appropriate products and services.

Key matters raised by stakeholders

  • Financial system stability spanning from financial soundness to fair treatment of consumers.
  • Developing regulatory oversight through ‘Twin Peaks’ structures.
  • Responding to labour and consumer-focused legislative changes.
  • Adapting to and influencing changes to legislation/regulations that have a substantial impact on the business.
  • Responsible lending including credit amnesty activities.
  • A sound, ethical work environment underpinned by sound corporate values.

Relevant material matters

Contributing to a sustainable financial services sector and maintaining trust by:

  • upgrading our high ethical standards and good conduct practices including Treating Customers Fairly;
  • lending responsibly; and
  • managing regulatory change effectively.

How are we responding

  • Our values guide our behaviours and we continue our efforts to reduce or avoid the impact of poor conduct on all our stakeholders through various initiatives, ranging from regulatory approved customer on-boarding processes to ongoing anti-money laundering, sanctions and anti-bribery and corruption activities.
  • Conduct risk assessments were completed for all businesses and we enhanced reporting (including performance measurement metrics).
  • We created a comprehensive measurement of Treating Customers Fairly and the 10 conduct risk outcomes, providing a broader and more accurate view of our customers’ experience.
  • We continue to refine our lending approach to account for macroeconomic conditions and the regulatory environment and in 2015, implemented changes relating to the new affordability rules of the National Credit Act in South Africa.
  • We actively participate in industry discussion on wide-ranging regulatory changes.

We effectively manage risk and create sustainable returns.

Why this is important to us

It is essential that we maintain a strong relationship with our shareholders to ensure we have a shared understanding and vision for our future performance. Not meeting these expectations reduces shareholder confidence.

Key matters raised by stakeholders

  • Resilience and revenue growth in an uncertain/volatile economic environment and sustainable cost containment.
  • Strong and emerging competition.
  • Adequacy of credit provisions.
  • Returns from portfolios outside South Africa while turning around RBB in South Africa.
  • Appropriate executive remuneration.
  • Operational risks including IT, cybercrime and physical security.

Relevant material matters

Delivering appropriate shareholder returns by:

  • growing revenue in uncertain economic conditions;
  • managing risk, capital and liquidity within an appropriate risk appetite;
  • disciplined cost management;
  • fair and transparent executive remuneration practices; and
  • managing emerging operational risks arising from social activism and infrastructure instability (including electricity and water).

How are we responding

  • We have clear financial targets on which we are making progress, however, our return on equity and cost-to-income targets are more likely to be achieved in the medium term due to current macroeconomic conditions.
  • We are growing revenue in target annuity areas.
  • Our focus remains on sustainable structural cost efficiencies (through retail network optimisation, process improvement, digital and automation).
  • We continue to improve our controls, embed our enterprise risk management framework and closely monitor identified areas including cybercrime, financial crime and fraud.
  • With shareholder approval, we converted our phantom Share Value Plan to an equity plan to better align colleague and shareholder interests.