Evelyne Tall joined Ecobank eighteen years ago. After having managed subsidiaries in Mali, Senegal and later the Uemoa region. The Senegalese woman, who has made a name for herself as a prominent figure in the financial sector, has been assistant general manager since 2012. Within the bank, her missions are mainly centered on regulations and compliance questions.
Leaders League. With a presence in thirty-three African countries, Ecobank can be defined as a Pan-African Bank What challenges does this entail in terms of organizing and structuring your network?
Evelyne Tall. Ecobank is a Pan-African bank whose ambition is to give the best services to our clients. It can indeed be said that we are confronted with “challenges” considering that we operate in 33 countries each with their own currencies and regulations (if we were to assemble the ten Uemoa countries and thirty-three Cemac countries, we would have to face around twenty-two regulators), but our approach to market integration is crucial. Each time that we set up in a country, we later establish ourselves in neighboring countries to capitalize on the common market.
Leaders League. What are the regulatory difficulties that Pan-African banks face today?
E.T. The specificity of the banking sector is that it is heavily regulated. It is neither a difficulty nor a challenge, but a complexity that we must manage when presented with transnational operations that serve as depository for a couple thousand people. The most important challenge in our job is to maintain a solid reputation. At Ecobank, we have a zero-tolerance policy on non-compliance of the different regulations presented to us.
Leaders League. In a couple of words, what are the job opportunities offered by Ecobank today and what is your position in the African financial market?
E.T. Ecobank is the number one bank in terms of presence in Africa. Our vision has always been regional and Pan-African. It was our founding fathers’ will to succeed in integrating African markets thanks to our bank’s activities. Our current position is thus Pan-African and transnational, with the objective of offering services to all sorts of clients. For this reason, we have a commercial bank that accompanies major international groups that have more or less the same approach as us and are happy to call on the services of our Ecobank agencies. We equally serve individuals who have their own specific needs. They represent a client segment which we believe in because the increase in purchasing power in Africa often leads to new consumption habits. We also have a commercial bank dedicated to small and medium sized companies and an investment bank. Let me add that although not everyone is aware of it, Ecobank intervenes on the microfinance front and is a stakeholder in four microfinance businesses. Hence we offer different services that meet our clients’ needs.
Leaders League. To sum up, Ecobank is a global institution that is present in all segments of the banking industry. Is this not too ambitious for a single organization?
E.T. There is an enormous potential in the African banking sector. Despite an increase in the number of actors in the market, the bancarization rate has remained relatively low. To give you a better picture, the total balance sheet of banks in terms of percentage of GDP per capita was on average 41% in Sub-Saharan Africa. In comparison, the banking assets in emerging countries represented 140% of the GDP. This goes to show that there is still a potential for improvement for us.
Leaders League. According to you, what will the African bank of tomorrow look like?
E.T. The African bank of tomorrow will be a transnational bank that offers better services for its clients who increasingly have the same expectations as those in developed markets. It will be a bank that is able to have major distribution channels, whether it be by agencies, ATMs, internet or mobile phones. It will also be a bank that’s available 24/7. Finally, it will have to comply with current reglementation and have a virtuous policy in terms of governance.