UAE Banking Industry Analysis
According to Industry Research Solution (2008), the banking industry in the United Arab Emirates has witnessed a strong economic growth, increased government support and growing loan segments to emerge as one of the largest and strongest banking industry in the Middle East. The industry became the undisputed market leader across Middle East when its total assets increased to a high of $336 billion in the years ranging 2006-2008. During this similar period, this industry recorded a combined and increased profit of an estimated $6.75 billion. This represented an increase of 25%. Experts have postulated that the favourable growth patterns experienced rapid growth due to the fact that the UAE government had continuously deposited its financial assets in the banking industry. This improved banks’ liquidity ratios thus making it easy for them to offer loans to their clients.
Standard Chartered Bank, UAE: Company Profile
Standard Chartered Bank, UAE started its banking services, for the first time, in the year 1958 when it opened a branch at Sharjah (Standard Chartered Bank, UAE Homepage. 2011). The bank experienced a rapid growth in its early stages: leading to its spread to Dubai. Having attained a market presence of over 50 years in the UAE, the bank expanded its UAE network to a total of 11 branches. The bank offers extensive ranges of products under its product and service lines.
The bank’s consumer banking section
It is important to note that the bank’s international prominence has been caused by its 3 groups of principal businesses namely Personal or Consumer Banking, Global Markets Banking and Institutional and Corporate Banking (Standard Chartered Bank, UAE Homepage. 2011). The launch of consumer banking (also referred to as retail banking) saw the bank execute its transactions directly with local consumers. Services included in the consumer banking category included, and were unlimited to, savings, mortgages, debit cards, credit cards, transactional accounts and debit cards.
Ideally, as the effects of globalization and the economic recession came to affect financial institutions, the needs of small-scale banking retailers came to shift. This led to the bank re-engineering its consumer banking processes. As such, the services were split in Islamic Banking and Priority Banking to answer to the now changed specific and unique consumer preferences.
The implemented change management frameworks saw the company re-establish its profitability status when it posted a rise in profit of approximately $2.84 billion in its UAE operations in the financial year ending November 2008 (Standard Chartered Bank, UAE Homepage.2011). This represented a percentage rise of 10%
The modern day business markets exhibit extreme volatilities that make it difficult for business leaders to rely on their “traditional” and conventional wisdoms and past experiences when trying to effect best management strategies (Uva. 2006, p.1).The selection of best management frameworks have called for top managers to carry out both intensive and extensive research to determine their unique needs and challenges manifest in their organizations. As the effects of modern-day globalization continue to pose considerable challenges to the existing management patterns, current managers have been called upon to ‘upgrade’ their skills to cope with the ever changing and demanding business situations.
Though the current competitive business environment has been characterised by many business enterprises recording negative performances, it should be highlighted that a considerable number of enterprises have come out to re-engineer best frameworks that have in turn led to their profitability.
In assessing how such business institutions have been able to succeed in implementing change processes, this business research project chose to study the re-engineering process at Standard Chartered Bank, UAE. The bank initiated the changes in one of its principal groups of business namely the Consumer or Personal Banking section-which had experienced shifting market demand.
The researcher studied the following key themes associated any change process:
- Types of changes that were implemented by this banking institution.
- Employees understanding of the institution’s change frameworks.
- The various capabilities of the change ‘steering team’ as well as the skills of the employees who were to fall ‘victim, for the then new changes.
- The attitudes of the employees towards the then proposed changes.
- The challenges or the resistance that accompanied the proposed changes.
It is useful to note that in selecting to analyze the management model at Standard Chartered Bank, UAE, the researcher was motivated by the success-story behind this multi-national financial institution that had re-engineered its Consumer Banking section to become the undisputed banking market leader across the Middle East region.
This project study aimed to study Standard Chartered Bank, UAE re-engineering process and demonstrate why selecting and implementing best and unique business models or processes went a great way into ensuring the success of any business enterprise in the current competitive global markets.
The change management strategy in the case of institutions such as the Standard Chartered Bank aimed at reinforcing the primary goals of such institutions. Changes needed to be made to the institution’s existing business model and this was accomplished by offering support to the already established policies including the financial plan, performance assessment strategy, and the corporate plan.
The researcher used the following benchmarks to achieve the stated aim.
- To study the Consumer Banking changes that were adopted and implemented at Standard Chartered Bank, UAE.
- To identify the type of change that was implemented by the institution.
- To describe the market size and the competitive environment of the banking industry in the UAE.
- To investigate how the bank’s employees reacted to the changes (study their attitudes).
- To explore into the capabilities of the employees before and after the implementation of the changes.
- To recommend some of the important factors managements ought to consider before, during and after the implementation of any changes.
- To clearly describe the methodology involved in any change process.
The major research question that governed the development of this argument was the importance of change management as a tool for corporate governance at Standard Chartered Bank, UAE. This was backed up by the following research questions:
- How had internal audit gained prominence in the business environment at Standard Chartered Bank, UAE?
- What were the determinants of change and their roles in the application of corporate governance from the perspective of professionals in the Standard Chartered Bank?
- What were the different benefits of consumer banking in relation to corporate governance in the Standard Chartered Bank?
Taking into account the importance of obtaining the information from real life scenarios for business analysis, surveys on employees’ attitudes and perceptions were conducted for getting insight into the effectiveness of current change management strategies within the Standard Chartered Bank and identifying the existing deficits which require special consideration and further improvements.
Since the collection of information from the parties highlighted above resembled survey studies, the researcher was motivated to adopt and implement the conclusive descriptive research approach in this study. As Housden (2008) highlighted, the study approach was considered best for this kind of study because of its strength in answering the 5Ws and the 1H questions of what, where, who, when, why, how and which are also manifest in the aim and objectives of our study as highlighted above (p.62).
Study population and sampling technique
All the 2,300 employees of Standard Chartered Bank, UAE region constituted the study population.
The researcher used random sampling to sample only 50 employees of Standard Chartered Bank, in Abu Dhabi to act as a representative of the 2300 employees. These respondents were informed on the survey, its main objectives and were required to give their consent to participating in it by answering the questionnaire. These employees were sent the questionnaires with brief explaining letters concerning the research problem and goals via e-mail. Follow up calls were made to the potential participants who did not respond in a timely manner for making sure that the e-mails with questionnaires were delivered to them.
Justification for random sampling
It should be noted that though large samples are likely to present objective results, the research chose to use a relatively small sample to meet the little duration availed for this business coursework. In addition, the researcher being a mere student could not successfully source for enough funding for this project. Thus in trying to attain objectivity with the little resources at researcher’s disposal, the researcher chose to adopt and implement the use of this approach to give the many users in the study population an equal chance of responding to the proposed survey questionnaires; thus ensuring objectivity and reducing on the error margin (StatPac, 2011).
Besides using the following as study population, the researcher also consulted up-to-date secondary sources appropriate to this project. The researcher consulted company past records, peer-reviewed scholarly journals, conference proceedings and corporate or institution reports to gather useful financial data on the institution’s performance.
Tool for collecting data
Use of Questionnaires
The researcher used questionnaires to collect project data. The questionnaires that were used consisted of five main sections, including the parts devoted to responsibilities, capabilities, communication, positioning and attitudes. Each of these sections contained the combination of yes/no, rating questions and the questions which required full answers. This design of the questionnaire allowed collecting valuable information on not only employees’ awareness of the company’s vision, implemented change management strategies and other ongoing processes but also the degrees of their attitudes and personal perception of the current situation in the Standard Chartered Bank.
Serious consideration was given to the development of tools for the following systematization and evaluation of the research findings. The analysis of the received responses was carried out in several ways, including the evaluation by each employee, by company’s divisions and by the sections of the questionnaire. Then, the data was integrated for creating a comprehensive picture and detecting the main deficits within Standard Chartered Bank, UAE which can be compensated through corporate training and making the necessary changes. Taking into account the small size of the research sample, simple tables were used for the statistical analysis of the collected data. The next step in the data processing was the error check and the consideration of possible biases and limitations of the research design.
After the systematization and evaluation of the collected data concerning the employees’ motivation, involvement into decision making processes, attitudes to work and corresponding quality of their performance were investigated and findings derived. Improvement measures were then highlighted by the author in the recommendations. Thus, the findings of this study can be valuable for enhancing the effectiveness of the change management strategies at the Standard Chartered Bank.
Justification for using questionnaires
The main reason why the researcher chose on the use of questionnaires in this study was that since questionnaires were mailed to respondents, the chances of responses being influenced were completely avoided. This inferred the collected data was free of researcher influences. In addition, the respondents were at liberty and free from pressure in responding to the questionnaires as opposed to personal interviews.
As a result of the above, the researcher was able to gather useful data from the human resource function at the banking institution. For example, the author was able to gather information on the institution’s vision for change and the areas that that the vision was to improve their performance.
Tellingly, the accessibility of the internet connection for the participants of the survey and the convenience of processing data in digital formats minimized the risks of biases and the technical errors that would have occurred during processing, of say, interviewed data.
The researcher reviewed literatures addressing or relating to change management as researched by various scholars. All the literature reviewed was geared towards answering the researcher’s previously stated objectives.
To begin with, in order to effectively analyze institutional change management frameworks, the researcher noted that it was mandatory that a clear documentation of the company’s (in this case Standard Chartered, UAE’s) financial situation was clearly presented to aid in intensive analysis of all company sectors.
To add, Allen and Herbert (1972) noted that in order to implement any change management strategy, a proper management team was to be established to oversee the process. This team should be led by senior managers who are required to take charge of the programme and make sure that all the principles and goals of the strategy are effectively handled. The culture of the Standard Chartered Bank demanded the institution to dedicate required resources towards achieving the proposed change strategy. The projects that will be established as a consequence of any agreed upon change management strategy should auger well with organization’s project management guidelines. Warren, Kenneth and Chin (1969), stressed on this point by stating that a framework facilitating proper allocation of responsibilities to members of the team also ought to be set up. Beside, plans developed for the project, methods for risk assessment and mechanisms for monitoring the accountability of the team members ought to be embraced.
Stressing on that, it is important that all the stakeholders involved in implementation of the change management should be objectively identified and trained on all the plan components. For the case of Standard Chartered Bank, UAE, stakeholders in the change process included employees, investors and all other people whose involvement in the programme was vital. Likewise, as noted by James (1967), communication channels should were to be set up well to ensure that all the stakeholders shared in the vision of the strategy and were actively involved in its implementation.
Furthermore, Allen and Herbert (1972) stated that different aspects of change management strategy should be communicated to the top management, junior staff as well as to other principle stakeholders. This information could also be helpful to the company if shared with members of the public. In the case of the Standard Chartered Bank, UAE, it was necessary for the management to communicate the reasons behind the implementation of the changes. More so, it was important that the change ‘steering people’ established and clearly communicated the benefits that were associated with implementing these changes.
In communicating change vision, management should note that feedback was an important aspect of the communication process and this was to be emphasized if complex changes were being implemented. In summary, it was vital that all the players in the implementation of the Standard Chartered Bank change management strategies properly understood the proposed changes hence in the process avoiding ‘repeat’ processes; a factor that could have increased costs of operation for the change process.
Moreover, any proposed changes must be managed in a strategic manner. This was so because management was advised to speed up the change implementation process thus ensuring that that the business enjoyed the change benefits within a short period of time. Leaders in Standard Chartered Bank are mandated with the task of pioneering a business to its desired objectives. For instance, in transitional period, they are called upon to guide their subordinates to the desired paths. They are involved right from planning process all the way to monitoring the implemented changes.
It is worthy to note that changes ought to be planned and communicated in advance to enable their easy adoption. Change ‘leaders’ act as change agents all change stages. As such, their charismatic nature is put to test.
There is no single effective method of implementing changes. This is evidenced by the many change models that have developed by different scholars for effecting changes. However, the following 8 stages, as proposed in Porter’s model of change management have been commonly recommended for implementing changes in institutions of business.
The first stage of this model involved the creation of urgency for the proposed changes. In implementing this first stage, Standard Chartered Bank, UAE performed a current interpolation of its standing in the industry with the aim of improving and establishing areas that needed improvement. Having determined its market position, its top managers came up with the proposed changes.
This stage required establishment of company aim and goals; the next step required all people who were to be affected by the changes to study and understand the the need for change. The management should let their employees understand how the change will affect them. One of the barriers to an effective change is resistance as offered by employees especially in instances where they feel that the changes are likely to render their roles invaluable to the particular institution. In most cases, negative employee perceptions are brought about by lack of people understanding of change effects.
Establishing ‘the guiding team’
Standard Chartered Bank developed a change implementation team based at its Dubai head office and another local support team in the Abu Dhabi UAE branch. Depending with the kind of change that is to be implemented, the management should develop a team of change agents. The team should understand the current position in the bank and forge the way forward together with the management and the affected employees. This should be so because as change steering people, they be well informed on the changes to be effected; and thus should lead the way in implementing the changes. Change leaders should be evenly spread in the institution departments to facilitate an even adoption of the changes in the organization.
Stating change vision clearly
The UAE team and the head office team had a common understanding of the changes that were to be effected. They had held discussions and arrived at a common understanding. Managements should note that at this stage, institutional objectives need to be clearly stated. In addition, a timeframe for changes’ implementation should be clearly arrived at after consultations with all the stakeholders to be affected by the proposed changes. The stated objectives should be attainable to facilitate the change process.
Communicating the proposed vision to stakeholders
This is the most important stage where there is communication to employees on the proposed changes. Standard Chartered Bank, UAE was tasked with training to familiarize its UAE staff to the proposed Consumer Banking changes. This stage requires that an effective and proactive communication strategy be established. The communication role involves: taking employees to seminars that cover topics such as customer care, organizing get together between employers and employees, rewarding employees, holding regular meetings, including major stakeholders in business decision, assurance to personal service, among others. This plan does not concentrate in solving past troubles but in laying down a good foundation that guarantees a successful future for the business involved. A communication plan should take into consideration the availability of resources and all the business aim and objectives; from a long-term and a short term basis. Once a communication plan has been prepared, the company now focuses on its implementation. The expected result should be kept in mind and the main components of the plan reviewed to make sure they are in line with the expected result. The implementation process should involve as many people as possible but it should have one person who is answerable to it (Ian & Dunford. 2005).
This stage successfully implemented when the bank’s consumers, management, subordinates and other stakeholders appreciated the reasons behind the changes. This was shown in their unwavering support for the changes.
From a general perspective, this stage requires that ‘change agents’ should be busy on the ground implementing the required changes and letting the business on a new wave of things. At this stage practical changes are undertaken- although in the previous traditional system. This stage assists in polishing any issues which may have been ignored in the initial stage. Employees learn more on the new system and its operations; in case there are areas that need to be polished, then the change agents have an ample time in clarifying the identified knowledge gaps.
Creating short-term success
At this stage, the management should have short-lived evaluations of the system to ensure that it is efficient and can replace the old system. There is no need to wait for long periods for results but can even be done on daily basis or weekly basis.
Improving on the short-term success
If the change strategy was found to be successful in its measurement stage (stage 9.7 above), it is advisable that managements should put measures in place to reinforce the succeeding changes. In such cases, managements should ‘polish’ any identifiable deficits in the new system.
Anchoring the changes
In this final stage, the already adopted changes are anchored in the institution to ensure their complete success. This stage requires that the management monitors and sticks to implemented changes. Measurement yardsticks should be established to determine the areas that need improvement or support (Kotter. 1995).
Statements of findings
The following findings were derived from the completed questionnaires and the secondary sources consulted.
To start with, when the researcher carried out studies to establish whether Standard Chartered Bank employees understood the change management process, the following were the findings:
To add on, most employees stated that they had specialized in offering their services; and as such, they did not understand the re-engineering process, especially in its early stages.
In addition, most employees acknowledged that they had limited knowledge on the 8 methodologies of the change process.
Ideally, when the researcher carried out investigations to establish whether the management team at Standard Charted Bank was capable of spearheading the change process, the researcher found out that most managers had acquired a lot of knowledge and experience in their professions to steer the process.
Furthermore, when the researcher carried investigations to establish employees’ attitudes towards proposed changes, the researcher found that most employees were receptive towards proposed changes.
Besides, when the researcher carried out investigations to establish the level of communication skills for Standard Chartered Bank employees, he established that most employees had high levels of communication skills.
Moreover, on the quality of manpower, the researcher established that the banking institution had a highly qualified manpower.
Finally, when the researcher wanted to categorise the type of changes implemented at Standard Chartered Bank, the researcher found out that the institution had implemented strategic changes.
Understanding of the change management process
Using 5 to represent high and 1 to represent low, the following table1 depicted the findings of the researcher on the understanding of the change management process by the employees of Standard Chartered Bank.
The process of change management, in its sixth stage, required that the people involved in the change management strategy ought to have communicated the proposed vision on a regular basis. This can only be possible if employees were allowed to diversify their functions. By diversifying their functions, employees were likely to associate on regular basis. As such, they could easily use any chance that comes their way to participate in constructive discussions on change strategies (Salahudeen. 2010). Specialization made it difficult for Standard Chartered Bank employees to engage in constructive discussions.
This research study has highlighted the importance of business leaders clearly understanding the operations of their businesses ventures; since it is from this understanding that they can be able to establish the need for change (Laura-Georgeta. 2008). It is also surprising that though some business leaders have established best change strategies to improve the performance of their institutions, some employees have come to act as barriers towards the improvement processes. The change management process at Standard Chartered Bank, UAE is a clear example, of how some employees develop resistance to improvement policies.
However, the decision by the bank management to implement measures that coerced them into loving the proposed structure stressed on the need of business leaders not tiring in their leadership roles.
Alternatively, it should be that previous organizational changes have a lot of influence on any future changes. For example, if an organization had previously implemented poor changes, it is likely that employees will assure any future changes with this negativity (Ford & D’amelio. 2008).
Ideally, to remain competitive in the changing banking industry in the UAE, Standard Chartered Bank has embarked on internal operation improvement. The current stability level enjoyed by the bank will be threatened in the future if the established changes are not regularly reviewed with the intention of improvement.
It is also important to note that change is inevitable in business, thus Standard Chartered Bank management should be given credit for having adopted effective strategic change management systems.
From the study conducted above, it clearly emerged that each business is unique when rated in terms of the production challenges it faces. The many differences across businesses are not specifically facilitated by the businesses’ end products but rather by the uniqueness that exist. The following are some of myriad factors upon which the following uniqueness may be determined:
- varying equipments,
- layout constraints,
- buy decisions versus make decisions and;
- Union requirements.
The above factors should be carefully reviewed by any top management when choosing their management models since the selection of ‘right’ management models form the key to the success of any business change process. Choosing of right models can outline the differences between transitions that are easy and smooth and those that cause great deals of strife or conflicts within the specific business enterprises. In general, it is recommended that before selecting the type of management model for any organization, managements should consider the needs of their particular businesses and their other networked suppliers. This will ensure that the selected model addresses the needs of these two key groups. Managements are also advised that the right management models are those which can allow for customization to cater for the ever changing needs, just as the Toyota management model which was able to allow for customization to address the changing needs of its consumers.
Managements at various business units are also informed that though the use of the various conservation energy strategies have been cited as some of best practices when considering better management, most of the technologies involved always call for huge sums of additional capital both for setting up and upgrading the particular technologies. For instance, the implementation of changes at Standard Chartered Bank, UAE cost the institution millions of dollars.
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