Based on the above Central Theme, the following sub-themes have been identified as some of the key discussion points;

The proliferation of Financial Services Institutions in the region – challenges and prospects

In recent years, the East African Financial Market has witnessed tremendous growth and deepening of Financial Services Institutions ranging from commercial banks, non-bank financial institutions, mortgage finance companies and micro-finance banks, etc. This growth has been in the form of increasing branch networks from established institutions and new entrants at all levels.

While the growth and deepening of financial services has brought with it expanded financial services for the banking public and profitability for financial services providers, it has also brought with it numerous challenges.

This paper will try to examine the circumstances and/or reasons leading to the expansion of financial services institutions in the region, the economic, political paradigms, the opportunities available for banking business, the liberalization of financial markets, the regulatory factors and whether financial institutions per se can be a catalyst towards a common monetary union and/or regional integration.

The Impact of Technology on Banker/Customer Relationships

There is no doubt that Technology plays a critical role in the provision of financial services and banks/financial services organizations are increasingly using ICT in their business operations to gain competitive advantage. While ICT has tremendous benefits in financial services, it has also brought with it various challenges and apart from crime, it has almost totally disrupted the banker/customer relationship.

It is now common that a banking relationship can be executed without the customer even entering the bank premises. PCs, telephones and internet terminals, etc are in use, are faster and better alternatives. The readily available technology makes it even easier for non-bank institutions to enter the market, thus creating more challenges for established banks/financial services providers.

This paper will highlight the current trends in banker/customer relationships in the context of a changing and highly technological environment.

Managing Risk in Banking and Financial Services

Banks and other types of Financial Services Organizations are in the business of providing a wide range of financial services and products that expose them to a variety of “Risks”. The nature of risks faced by these institutions are wide ranging and permeate not only individual institutions but the entire financial services sector, both national and global. Indeed the risks are not only a concern by individual institutions alone, but also by Regulators, Governments and Supranational Institutions (World Bank, IMF, etc). The Basel Accord has now been upgraded to level III with increasing emphasis on an integrated approach to risk management. At its best and practical level, “Risk Management” has now been integrated as a “science” by most banks and financial institutions. “Risk Management” is no longer an adjunct to the business, it is central. Proper systems are no longer “nice to have,” they are mission critical.

This paper will discuss the broad area of Risk Management in Financial Services. The objective is to expose Participants to some of the current “best practices” being employed by progressive Banks/Financial Institutions, to mitigate against any potential losses in their businesses.

Emerging Trends and Prospects in Financial Inclusion

Financial Inclusion is now a trend mostly associated with extending Financial Services to all segments of the population and in particular those segments that were considered excluded, unbanked or had no access to banking services. Faced with increasing competition and in order to expand their market share, a majority of Financial Services providers are now looking favourably at the unbanked population. Indeed some financialinstitutions have made it their niche market, investing heavily in this segment of the society and reaping huge profits.

This paper will discuss emerging trends and prospects in Financial Inclusion as a major strategic focus by most Financial Services providers to expand their market share.

Current Trends in Client Relationship Management

Banking has traditionally operated in a relatively stable environment for decades. However, today the industry is facing a dramatically aggressive competition, not only among existing institutions, but also with new entrants in the sector. The net result of this increasing competition is that traditional banks have lost a substantial proportion of their domestic business to essentially non-bank competition. In addition, today’s bank customers are quite knowledgeable and sophisticated. They know the market well and are very selective about the service they want and what it will cost them. Competition will undoubtedly continue to be a more significant factor. Thus it is imperative for banks to get useful feedback on their actual response time and customer service quality aspects of retail banking, which will in turn help them take positive steps to maintain a competitive edge. Collecting information about customers, who they are and their purchasing behavior is vital information for the bank/financial institution and will contribute to a better understanding of the customer and how to engage or relate to not only the existing customer, but also new/potential ones.

This paper will discuss the current trends in Client/Customer Relationship Management Strategies employed by successful banks in establishing productive relationships with both their internal and external clients. It will highlight the basic concepts, principles, tools, techniques and practical approaches to creating a solid Client Relationship Management infrastructure.

Combating Financial Crime

One of the major risks faced by banks/financial institutions is theft of funds/resources perpetrated through both internal and external factors. For whatever reason, all forms of financial crime pause a serious threat to the very survival of banks and financial institutions. Criminals and Fraudsters are to be found both within and outside the Financial Services sector and have become increasingly sophisticated, employing very complex methods of operation, including cyber, internet and other IT based frauds and forgeries. Inspite of enhanced and comprehensive compliance policies and procedures employed by modern banks/financial institutions, money laundering is still a major problem affecting a majority of these institutions on both the domestic and global stage.

This paper will discuss the current patterns, trends and developments in Financial Crime and the modern steps and risk mitigating strategies employed by successful institutions to combat and contain financial crime.

People as a Strategic Asset in Financial Services

There is no doubt that “People” are the most critical factor in “organizational effectiveness.” For any modern organization to succeed, it requires a competent, well trained and flexible work force. This also requires a well thought-out and formulated strategy on “People Management.” Banking/Financial Services has always been about “People” both from within (Staff, Shareholders) and external (clients/customers and the general public). Therefore to meet their needs (both internal and external customers), the bank/financial Institution must put in place policies and processes that ensure its workforce is well managed and strongly motivated.

This paper will discuss the importance of having a sound HR strategy in place and one that suits a modern bank or financial institution. It will highlight the current approaches to HR Management and in particular the role played by key staff (Supervisory and Management) in decisions affecting those working under them.

Leadership and Team Building

A good HR Strategy must include leadership roles and team management. Ultimately all work, processes and systems in any organization (including automated ones) will be carried out by employed People (Staff). A dynamic organization such as a bank/financial institution is structured in specialized units, sections and departments to maximize performance and achieve desired goals/targets. Thus creating high performing teams - under group leaders - that will deliver high returns or exceptional results is a major strategic objective for every bank/financial institution.
This will be a highly practical presentation (with role plays) by experts in leadership roles and team building techniques that will give relevant insights into the behavioral factors required to institutionalize a “leadership and team building dynamic” in a bank or financial institution.