Representatives from three GBA banks that have found great success with the Women’s Market — BLC Bank of Lebanon, Westpac of Australia and Banco BHD León of the Dominican Republic — shared key elements of their stories.
BLC Bank in Lebanon is one of the leading best practice banks with a successful Women’s Market program. Competition is fierce in Lebanon, with 65 banks and 4 million people, and BLC Bank realized they needed more than price to differentiate themselves. They decided to strive to be the bank of reference and employer of choice for women. The program launched in 2012, and since then, it has provided more than 15,000 SMEs with non-financial services. In addition, loans, deposits and gross Income have all increased for women clients, and today 19 percent of the bank’s total income comes from women. In fact, the internal rate of return for the program is in excess of 33 percent, and the bank has received many awards and much recognition.
- BLC Bank started its Women’s Market program because there was a strong business case for the bank: Women save more and are risk aware, generating fewer non-performing loans. They are also loyal, and tend to tell many people if they’re happy with your bank.BLC Bank signed the UN’s Women’s Empowerment Principles and trained almost every person in the bank on unconscious bias as well as how to better deliver service to women.
- The CVP for both financial solutions and non-financial services was developed based on the results of focus groups.
- Financial solutions included a Mother-Child account, which allows women to open accounts for their children; a collateral-free loan – available to both men and women – which relies on the account history of the client and information other than land, which is traditionally an obstacle for women to obtain; and BLC Cloud, a platform for 24/7 banking, requiring less time for common transactions.
- Non-financial services filled the need for more networking, education and exposure. This included workshops (business power sessions), a website and the Brilliant Lebanese Awards.
- CSR was integrated into the strategy of the bank, which included working with NGOs to deliver part of value proposition and support women in the country.
- There were many challenges. The biggest challenge for BLC Bank was changing culture, and they faced resistance from senior managers. The second biggest challenge was non-financial services, as it was not their core business. They overcame this by trial and error.
Westpac’s journey began in 1999 with a CEO who was passionate about gender. As the oldest bank in Australia, turning 200 next year, they are a pillar in the country. With 50 percent of the bank’s customers being women, the bank recognizes that women are good for business.
- Women’s Markets did not fit into a line of business, so the program started in the marketing department. However, it is an integrated, viable and essential part of Westpac now, and they are indeed seen as the bank of choice for women. Today every line of business champions the Women’s Markets.
- Other Australian banks tried to replicate Westpac’s Women’s Markets program, but it doesn’t appear authentic. There is a great first mover advantage.
- Now Westpac is aiming to be the bank of choice for women and girls.
- Marketing is warm, engaging and on topics women relate to. The current campaign is around Prime of Life.
- The most profitable Women’s Markets sector is SME, because it captures both personal and business clients. The return on equity is about 33 percent for women-owned SMEs.
Banco BHD León
Banco BHD León, with 60 percent female employees, is the second largest private bank in the Dominican Republic. Their Women’s Market program launched in 2015, after a team from business lines across the bank was coordinated to develop the strategy. Though there have been adjustments along the way, the results have been positive.
- Banco BHD León decided to move forward with a value proposition specifically for women for three reasons: its potential as a profitable market, the bank’s focus on developing distinctive customer elements and to have a positive impact on society.
- Market research showed that women wanted economic independence, individual and family well-being, and solutions that make life simpler.
- The financial value proposition at Banco BHD León included five solutions, including savings support, financing and insurance.
- The non-financial value proposition included training, education, mentoring and networking, as well as recognition through the “Women Who Change the World” awards.
- They launched the financial CVP first and will soon be launching non-financial services, as they were much more complex.
- Banco BHD León complemented the external CVPs with an internal value proposition, as 82 percent of their sales force are women. They signed the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles and furthered their diversity and inclusion strategy. Currently, 50 percent of the top management is comprised of women, as is 20 percent of the board.