Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Banking, Stalin and the Church!

When being advised against taking on the Catholic Church, Joseph Stalin is said to have responded, “How many Divisions does the Pope have?” His point being that by traditional military standards, the Church posed no threat to the Soviet empire’s numerous military divisions. But that was to have missed quite a lot obviously and the Church still stands while the Soviet Union is no more.

Well, the AfrAsia Bank story has been on the road quite often this past few months. A common remark I get is that Mauritius is overbanked domestically or that global banks surely have too strong a branch network globally for us to compete in the Asia-Africa investment corridor. This, still, after then events of the past two years!

But the good thing of course is that the market is interested to hear from us and asking us to engage with it. I have presented our bank and Mauritius itself as a private banking jurisdiction in Singapore recently at the Private Banking International Wealth Management conference. Also I was on a panel discussion in Mumbai and Goa, India at the Future of Financial Markets conference put on by Financial Technologies and the Financial Times. Heading out to Cape Town and Johannesburg later this week to launch our new Representative offices there.

Once I can explain to the audience just what are the exciting things happening in Mauritius as regional financial centre and with AfrAsia Bank being a regionally owned and managed bank performing a unique role within that centre, then I usually get to the “aha” moment.

That is, branches = size = Stalin’s Divisions may not be the best way to think of banking any more. It may never have been.

The long march of history continues in financial services too.

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