Fungura: Brick-and-mortar branches to morph into service centres

October 22, 2021


Shepherd Fungura, ZB Financial Holdings (ZBFH) new CEO, is so passionate about success that he believes in capacitating others to reach their full potential.

The executive took over the helm of the financial services group in August replacing Ron Mutandagayi who left at the end of May. Fanuel Kapanje hold forte in between in an acting capacity.

“[I am] a leader who’s passionate about success through motivating, mentoring and empowering colleagues around me so that they reach their full potential, with a keen eye on customer delight,” Fungura told Business Times.

He says he has been good and “I am settling in well” has not yet encountered challenges

“My immediate task is to navigate the organisation towards success and that is what I am now driving towards,” the executive said.

ZB Financial Holdings Limited is an expansive group with an interest in banking, insurance, and property. Fungura says he seeks to make the units a key player in the sectors they operate in.

“ZBFH is already one of the most diversified financial institutions in Zimbabwe. Most of the group’s strategic business units are however currently not market leaders in their respective markets, and my vision is to grow the units’ in terms of market share. At the centre of my vision for the group is the Digital Transformation exercise which we have embarked upon,” he said.

The group plans to set up an offshore unit in Botswana. Initially the group wanted to set up a unit in Mauritius but shifted to Botswana due to the delays in licensing the reinsurance unit. Botswana was picked for its proximity and ease of doing business.

Fungura said ZBFH will expand into other regions.

In the short term, we are focused on setting up shop in Botswana, and I am pleased to advise that we have made significant progress in attaining an operating licence for our reinsurance unit,” he said.

“As we go into the medium term, we will be considering other regional markets – East Africa and West Africa are fast-growing regional blocs, and we will scout for opportunities for possible expansion in those regions.”

Fungura said establishment of an offshore unit is essential for the group to grow its foreign business, and hence be better able to generate foreign currency.

“It is also very important in growing the business and building new strategic partnerships as well as enhancing existing ones.”

He took over the group at a time banking has changed significantly due to the effects of Covid-19.

The executive said one of the most important developments in financial services (not just banking) from the Covid-19 pandemic has been around delivery of services with minimal physical contact between the service provider and the customer.

“Following the several varying levels of lockdown restrictions in Zimbabwe as elsewhere globally, financial institutions were called upon to expedite digitalisation of operations, in order to ensure that the customer continued to enjoy as seamless and hassle-free a service through digital platforms, as would have been enjoyed through physical interaction with the service provider,” he said.

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen companies relooking at their models leading to right-sizing of personnel. In the banking sector, financial institutions have closed or merged branches amid fears by unions that thousands of employees in the sector will be jobless by year-end as banks realign their operations.

Asked on the future of the brick-and-mortar model of banking, Fungura said it will be necessary to re-purpose most brick-and-mortar branches so that they eventually morph into service centres in the light of digitalisation.

He joins the sector at a time banks are scrambling to the minimum capital equivalent to US$30m by December 31 to attain top-tier status.

The executive said ZB Bank has in place a capital plan, which will ensure that it attains the minimum capital requirement by 31 December 2021.

“So yes, ZB will be among the top tier banks come end of year,” he said.

The executive’s philosophy is “one’s presence or absence should be different.

“I generally ensure my presence stands for a positive counting in value addition,” said the executive who draws inspiration from the family “who supports me all the time”.

The executive is currently reading The Great CEO Within: The Tactical to Guide Building  by Matt Mochary. He says it is “quite an inspirational book that helps with one getting time to find your inner self before they lead others”.

He is also reading Robert K Greenleaf’s  The Power of Servant Leadership, a book which exposes success through the principles that govern leadership of serving others.

Fungura joined ZB from Raknok Enterprises (Pvt) Limited where he was the Chief Executive Officer since May 2021.

Before that, he was at Old Mutual Insurance Company where he held positions of MD, GM, group chief risk officer and actuarial manager.

The executive also worked for Hannover Re in South Africa as portfolio manager (Sub Sahara Africa),  was senior actuarial manager at the Road Accident Fund and reinsurance and pricing actuary at Guardrisk.

An actuary by profession, Fungura is a holder of a BCom (Hons) Actuarial Science from National University of Science and Technology. He is a fellow of both the Actuarial Society of South Africa and Institute and Faculty of Actuaries in the United Kingdom.

He was the Actuarial Society of Zimbabwe president from January 2015 to March 2018 and served the Insurance Council as a committee member.

Fungura belongs to social groups such as sporting teams and music and enjoys travelling, sporting, singing and reading.



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