Marc Houareau appointed chairman of Absa Seychelles board |16 September 2022
Marc Houareau is the new chairman of the Absa Seychelles board, it was announced on Wednesday September 14.
Mr Houareau, a well-known businessman and chairman of the Seychelles Pension Fund (SPF), joined Absa as a regular board member four years ago, upon the request of former managing director Johan Van Schalkwyk.
With the completion of former chairman Jean Weeling Lee’s mandate, Mr Houareau was nominated for the seat, a nomination which was approved both by the South African Reserve Bank, and the Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS).
“My job basically now is to lead the board, and with a board, its role is oversight. Our role in Seychelles is overseeing the strategy and the process to ensure that everything is in order.
“And then, there is the fiscal side of it. Financially, every three months, we are updated as to what is happening, and in this update, there is also the economic update. We compile all of this information, statistics, the CBS report, and we discuss about inflation and such, and we set guidelines,” Mr Houareau said.
As chairman, Mr Houareau bears the responsibility of ensuring that the bank is performing well, and functioning in accordance with the laws of Seychelles, as well as regulations and policies of the regulator, CBS, and the South Africa Reserve Bank.
Mr Houareau’s mandate is for three years. Over the period, he hopes to strengthen the movement of people with the aim of capacity-building and empowering local talents.
As Barclays Bank Seychelles Ltd, the shadow of what is since three years ago Absa Bank, the company employed seventeen expatriates. With the transition, the company now employs only two non-Seychellois employees, Mr Houareau stated.
“This is something that the board has been pushing strongly for. We want Seychellois to fill these posts, but we also need the capacity. We want training for Seychellois and it is a process,” he added.
As the world moves towards cashless societies, legacy banking is a thing of the past, Mr Houareau stated, as customers now transact through digital devices and platforms.
Having met with Governor of the Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS) Caroline Abel yesterday morning, one of the key points of discussion was the move from legacy to digital banking.
“We want to move to a cashless society and for us to do so, CBS needs to change its mentality. The vision is the vision which South Africa is imparting on all the countries, including Seychelles. The vision for digitisation of the bank is there,” Mr Houareau said.
Moving towards more flexible loan options for the market, including longer repayment periods is also on the agenda. Doing such will also help to alleviate government of the burden of constructing houses.
The introduction of student loans is also expected to be beneficial to government, who forks out a substantial amount of money in financing overseas training for Seychellois students.