/ 24 June 2009

All banks on board

The failed banking policies of mainly developed countries have crippled this industry, poisoned the global economy and have prompted serious questions about the people and the institutions behind the meltdown.

Business schools, which have been described as the ‘academies of the apocalypse”, have been among the institutions blamed for churning out the bankers responsible for the crisis. In turn this has prompted questions about whether better training and more research on the banking sector could have prevented the collapse.

Professor Raphael Mpofu, director of Unisa’s school of management sciences, which is part of the Colleges of Economic and Management Sciences (Cems), says the financial crisis has highlighted the importance of quality bank training for staff and all levels of management. ‘This poses a two-tier challenge to our university: to continue the supply of well-trained bank decisionmakers and to share the university’s relevant research with all involved parties,” he says.

Unisa dominates training in South Africa’s banking sector through its department of finance, risk management and banking, based in the school of management sciences. It is the official training partner of the Institute of Bankers in South Africa, the custodian of banking training in South Africa, and trains 5 000 to 8 000 students annually in and
outside South Africa.

Professor Jackie Young, who is responsible for all bank training programmes at Unisa, says the crisis has been a major wake-up call, especially for developed countries. ‘The US has already started pumping in more money in the training of its banking students to help prevent a similar crisis in future.

At Unisa we, have moved towards more extensive training in credit management.” The Financial Services Board has also urged the banking sector to get more involved in intensive banking research and training.

Bahle Goba, chief executive of the Institute of Bankers in South Africa, says training on its own could not have averted the global financial crisis. ‘Only the reining in of blatant greed and vigilance over systemic risk would have done so,” he says. ‘However, South Africa has not borne the brunt of the international crisis, in part because of our legislative environment and the concomitant training.

The Institute of Bankers of South Africa has played a major role in building key competences to facilitate responsible credit provision, thus guarding against reckless lending in the sector,” says Goba.

Ironically, the banking and economic crisis has paved the way for Unisa’s second international banking conference.

With the conference theme of ‘Risk management imperatives: a Euro-African perspective”, the international banking conference, which will be hosted on the luxury liner the MSC Simfonia, is set to provide key insights into the future of the banking sector. ‘The current economic crisis begs for answers and solutions. This conference could be the platform to ensure just that,” says Mpofu.