With constant plausible performance figures, this sector is putting action behind its strategies

The financial category of the 2010 Top Empowerment Companies (TEC) survey is stacked with high black economic empowerment (BEE) performers.

This category includes investment holding companies such as Sekunjalo Investments, which is ranked as the most empowered entity on the JSE in the 2010 TEC survey.

There is also Brimstone Investment Corp and Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI), which occupy fifth and sixth position respectively within the overall ranking and boast total BEE scores above the 80% mark.

Most readers will be interested in the performance of bankers and insurers, who have improved their empowerment credentials in recent years. One such player is insurance broking firm Glenrand MIB, which boasts a total BEE score of 80,43% and is ranked seventh in the overall 2010 TEC data.

Pauline Gibbons, an executive at Glenrand MIB, attributes the general improvement of empowerment credentials in the sector to a “link between transformation and business”. There is a definite business imperative in achieving BEE recognition levels, she says .

But it is Nedbank that tops the natural financial sector players with a total BEE score of 86,4%. That makes Nedbank the third-most empowered company on the JSE.

This banking group entered the BEE radar screens back in 2005 when it moved to transfer about 11% of its shares to black hands. The deal was anchored by a broad-based BEE consortium, which included employees, clients, community groups, strategic black business partners and nonexecutive directors of the bank.

Nedbank was one of the first corporations to offer BEE shares to the general public. The deal came with a unique arrangement where strategic BEE partners are required to assist the bank’s progression on the broad-based BEE scorecard. These partners included Wiphold, Sphere, Brimstone and Aka Capital. Since then the bank’s BEE credentials have skyrocketed .

Nedbank produced an even performance throughout all the elements of the broad-based BEE scorecard. Assisted by the inclusion of women groups, Nedbank claims 17,12 points out of a possible 20 in the ownership element. It boasts 44,44% adjusted black representation at board level and 37,5% for executive management.

Another financial services group FirstRand has claimed a place within the Top 10 TEC list with a total BEE score of 79,55%. FirstRand also concluded a BEE deal in the early 2000s and has since made significant strides across the broad-based BEE scorecard.

This was signified by the roping in of Sizwe Nxasana as the CEO of FirstRand Bank in 2005. He was promoted to CEO of FirstRand last year. This partly explains the group’s high score on the management factor, which is complemented by a high employment equity score.

The accession of Nxasana into the top within FirstRand links well with a call made by Business Unity SA (Busa) on how to handle affirmative action at senior level. After conducting research that showed unimpressive upward movement of black personnel at top executive level, Busa said corporations need to pay better attention to succession.

This resonates well with the thoughts of Paul Harris, Nxasana’s predecessor. “FirstRand’s philosophy regarding management succession is that when one person moves on and another takes over it is not the end of one race and the start of another.

“It is rather like a relay race where the baton is passed from the incumbent to the successor. To maintain continuity and momentum the person passing the baton runs alongside the one receiving it before passing it over.”

A number of other financial services companies are in the Top 50 TEC list. These include Metropolitan Holdings, which produced a total BEE score of 76,75% and occupies the 14th position. Banking giant Standard Bank claims the 18th position, with a total score of 75,77%. Then comes Coronation Fund Managers (73,2%), Absa (71,3%), Santam (70,4%) and Discovery Holdings (69,9%).

Financial services giants Old Mutual and Liberty Holdings are placed at position 45th and 47th respectively.

Source: Financial Mail – Sibonelo Radebe