President of the Ghana Association of Bankers, Alhassan Andani has ruled out serious job losses following moves by some banks to implement remote work policy because of Covid-19.
Speaking on PM Express Thursday, Mr Andani stated that, majority of banks are finding ways on how staff can be re-deployed and trained to take advantage of the new challenges that Covid-19 has brought.
“We need to realize that this new “world order” requires new skills and everyone must be prepaid for it.”
Banks and Work-from-Home programme
The 2020 PriceWaterhouse Coopers Survey Report revealed about the Chief Executives of 16 Commercial banks had indicated that they plan to fully implement remote work programmes even when Covid-19 cases reduce sustainably or the situation is brought under control.
According to the survey, their decision was influenced by how some Commercial Banks have fared, during the lockdown restrictions.
Following this development, majority of banks are investing more in technologies when it comes to service delivery channels.
Some of the banks were also working to review the physical growth strategies, in terms of branch opening, as well as depending heavily on technology to engaging with their customers and the public.
PricewaterhouseCoopers in the survey noted that, this move by the Banks may have an impact of tax collections as well as revenue mobilization.
Cost of financial services is expected to reduce after COVID-19
There are fears that because of the expected heavy investments in technology due to Covid-19, this will result in the cost of financial services going up.
But, Mr Andani noted the move will rather result in the cost of financial inclusion going down.
“For instance, the high rental space that we needed to take care of our brick and mortar” will be going down, because now we will depend heavily on software to support our banking services as a financial institution.”
“This does not mean that we are not going to spend more, but rather we will be strategic with our investments,” he added.
He revealed that Standard Bank has invested a lot into online applications platform aimed at supporting its staff in these times.
Is the environment conducive for remote work and Banking in Ghana?
There are fears that this “work from home program” set to be implemented by some banks in the country will be met with some challenges because of lack of reliable data and address system.
But Mr Andani noted that a lot of progress has been made by all these partners like the FINTECHs and the telecom operators that will help support banks in going this way.
“We should also understand that the current systems and structures have improved so much that it will help this remote banking”.
Rising Fraud cases in the banking sector
Mr Andani admitted that the rise in fraud cases is worrying for the banking sector.
The Bank of Ghana in its latest report highlighted over 2,000 fraud cases in the banking sector last year.
The report showed that majority of the cases were aided by the internal banking staff.
However, President of the Ghana Association of Bankers assured the general public to protect them from fraudulent attacks.
“Whatever that happens customers should trust us with their data because we have the required structures and mechanism to protect them”.
We also manage to catch these fraudsters in most situations and we have also taken all the required measures to protect depositor’s funds”.
He, however, rejected calls for “name and shame of banking staff that are caught, in these practices, arguing that most workers still have some legal rights, which needs to be respected.
He also revealed that the banking sectors are working on an automated list of these fraudsters that will prevent them from being employed again in the industry.
Cedis marginal stability and its impact on businesses
The Ghana cedis has seen some significant stability on the forex market from the first quarter of this year.
It is currently trading at around 5 cedis 83 pesewas.
Mr Andani on the other hand noted that this will help businesses to plan very well because it will bring about some predictable in their operations and dealings.
He, however, mentioned that as a country we still need to do more by improving revenue and boosting our exports so that we will be able to build up more dollar reserves to support the cedi’s stability.
He further stated it might be prudent to look for more sustainable ways to sustain the Ghana cedi in the long term.
Monetary Policy Committee of Banking of Ghana meeting and review policy rate
The President of the Ghana Association of Bankers and Managing Director of Stanbic noted that he will have wished for a further cut in on the Policy Rate which currently stands at 14.5 percent.
According to Mr Andani this may help reduce the cost of credit in these times. But was quick to add that this reduction in the cost of credit should help improve sectors that will aid economic growth and businesses that have been hit badly by Covid-19 get back on track.
The Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of Ghana today ended their three-day meeting to review the health of the economy.
They are expected to disclose the outcome of their meeting on Monday September 28 to discuss whether the Policy Rate which stands at 14.5 percent will be reviewed or kept unchanged.
Reduction in cost of credit
Mr Andani revealed that Commercial Banks have indeed reduced their interest rates by some 2 percentage points in line with Bank of Ghana proposals, whiles some banks have instituted measures to review conditions covering exiting loans.
He, however, rejected arguments that the Banks have not done enough to support businesses in these COVID-19 times.