|Barclays Bank’s Humphrey Muturi. [PHOTO: WILBERFORCE OKWIRI/STANDARD]|
By MARGARET KANINI
Humphrey Muturi, 39, is the new director of business banking at Barclays Bank Kenya. Before this posting, he worked at Standard Chartered Bank as general manager, SME banking.
How do you describe yourself?
I am very passionate about empowering business people — especially small and medium enterprises and family businesses — and walking with them on their journey to prosperity and growth.
What is your job about?
My primary responsibility is to drive the business banking agenda at Barclays Bank Kenya. This means I eat, sleep and think about companies that want a boost to grow.
While doing my job, I am guided by the perspective of having customers understand and find solutions to their needs. I help customers keep their most critical clients, identify their business edge and capture it for prosperity.
There are other banks that target the segment you do. What differentiates you from them?
We have managed to place Barclays as a trusted financier that helps clients grow. We have created a relationship-managed model, which is what most businesses want to help them bridge the gap between where they are today and where they aspire to be tomorrow.
Most international banks have almost a similar segment, but we have tried to add value to our product. Our segment is entirely driven by the customer. For instance, we sit with clients who want to expand their businesses and come up with bank products that meet this need.
We also finance export and import trade for clients. To this end, we offer them letters of credit that are sent to suppliers in whichever country they are based since any document from Barclays Bank is well recognised internationally. We also offer bill avalisation, invoice discounting and fleet financing, among other products.
What informed the decision to launch business banking at Barclays?
This is a segment that can boost Kenya’s economy greatly. SMEs contribute approximately 70 per cent to Kenya’s economy, so we must include them in our everyday decision making and running of organisations.
Business environment literacy is critical to the growth of any organisation. Do you offer training on this?
I will also say that financial literacy is critical to the growth of any organisation.
We have a business club that is exclusively for Barclays Bank members or clients. Through this club, we train our clients on the hard and soft skills they need to manage their businesses.
Club members are also exposed to the external market as the bank organises trips to different countries, which exposes them to how their fellow SMEs and entrepreneurs are conducting business.
Our members also get to share personal experiences and offer each other solutions.
What are the major challenges in this market segment?
One of the major challenges is financial illiteracy. When most businesses start off, they look at the opportunities while avoiding the risks. We, therefore, help our clients develop positive jaws, so that they can work with costs, but ensure these do not exceed revenue.
About 90 per cent of Kenyan business people or entrepreneurs are not aware that their costs could be growing faster than their revenues — but this does not mean the business should be shut down.
We also have challenges of not being able to quickly process security for our customers and offer faster lending.
Any new products in the pipeline?
We have two main initiatives that we plan to launch. The first one is to start offering our financial support to farmers — agriculture has been left lagging for a long time. The second is to finance commercial property development from end to end. We shall sit with both developers and their clients to see what they need most and help them acquire it.
We are also going to enhance our digital systems so that local customers can access their accounts from any country with a Barclays Bank.