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Read the following article and answer the questions that follow Battle of the banks: Capitec vs Standard Bank vs FNB vs Absa vs Nedbank
As South Africa’s banking sector faces increasing competition from new digital entrants, a fierce battle still rages on among the ‘legacy’ institutions. Referred to as the ‘big five’, these firms go beyond retail offerings, with a full-service portfolio of credit, loans, asset management, and other services, while fending off new digital entrants into the market including TymeBank, Discovery Bank and most recently Bank Zero.
So which of these institutions – Capitec, Standard Bank, Absa, FirstRand or Nedbank – stands tallest, or is the biggest? It depends on the category. If measured by network size – namely ATMs and branches, both Standard Bank and Absa are the largest banks. However, when it comes to customer reach, Capitec claims to have the most retail customers in its ecosystem. If you were to determine size by assets under control, profitability, or the number of employees employed in South Africa, the answer would also be different. BusinessTech looked at the most recent annual financial reports (from 2020/21) and compared the big five banks on 12 key metrics – from financial performance to network and reach.
The data below covers both group and South African operations – for example, group data was used for employees, and finances, while South African data was taken for customer numbers. FNB is represented by FirstRand Group, but FNB branches and ATMs were used for the figures. Share prices, market cap and P/E rations were taken from Bloomberg data.
The data covers the following reporting periods:
- FirstRand – FY 2021 (ended June)
- Capitec – FY 2021 (ended February)
- Absa – FY 2020 (ended December)
- Nedbank – FY 2020 (ended December)
- Standard Bank FY 2020 (ended December)
Market capitalisation and P/E ratio
Back in 2017, Capitec had the smallest market capitalisation across the big five retail banks but has since climbed to third-largest by this metric, with the difference between Capitec and Standard Bank in second place (R28.6 billion) smaller than the gap between it and Absa in fourth (R72.4 billion). FirstRand, meanwhile, has solidified its position as the most valuable bank on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. When it comes to share price, Capitec far surpasses its peers. The group shot past the R1,000 per share mark in 2018, and now sits close to R1,700 per share. This, however, also makes it the most expensive when looking at the price over earnings (P/E) ratio, almost double the next in line. The P/E ratio is the ratio for valuing a company that measures its current share price relative to its per-share earnings. The ‘cheapest’ stock among the banks is Absa, with a P/E of 8.69.
|Bank||Market Cap||Share price||P/E Ratio|
|FirstRand (FNB)||R342.0 billion||R61.24||12.69|
|Standard Bank||R222.6 billion||R138.66||10.99|
|Capitec||R194.0 billion||R1 690.57||24.50|
|Absa Bank||R121.6 billion||R144.08||8.69|
Standard Bank is the top-earning institution among local banks, with a total income of R108.6 billion. The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown impacted all big banks over the review period, reflected in income and headline earnings. Standard Bank, Absa and Nedbank’s data reflected a more complete Covid-19 picture – being the 12 months ended December 2020 – while Capitec and FirstRand reflected some of the 2021 recoveries. FirstRand maintained its pole position in terms of headline earnings – though, again, muted from the general economic slowdown brought by the pandemic. Income reflects both the interest and non-interest income for the respective banks. Headline earnings are a measure of a company’s earnings based solely on operational and capital investment activities. It excludes income that may relate to staff reductions, sales of assets, or accounting write-downs. In terms of headline earnings per share, Capitec is the clear leader by some margin.
|Bank||Income||Headline Earnings||HEPS (cents)|
|Standard Bank||R108.6 billion||R15.9 billion||1 002|
|FirstRand (FNB)||R72.2 billion||R19.3 billion||480|
|Absa Bank||R81.4 billion||R8.0 billion||946|
|Nedbank||R54.2 billion||R5.4 billion||1 113|
|Capitec||R15.2 billion||R4.6 billion||3 966|
The Banker’s top 1000 banks report is based on a measure of a bank’s Tier 1 Capital – known as core capital, which consists of shareholders’ equity and retained earnings. Standard Bank has entrenched its position as the biggest bank in the country by Tier 1 capital, widening the gap between it and its closest competitor, First Rand. Despite a 5.8% climb in Tier 1 capital to $11.16 billion, Standard Bank slipped down the overall global rankings to 157th position. The only two South African banks to climb the rankings were Investec and Capitec. Capitec re- entered the top 1,000 banks, ranking 558th overall with $1.9 billion in Tier 1 Capital. Absa fell 14 places to 184th in 2019’s global ranking, with Nedbank down 23 places to 240th. Capitec ranked 588th overall and showed some growth in its Tier 1 Capital over the past year, recording a 1.7% improvement.
|Bank||Tier 1 Capital|
|Standard Bank||$11.2 billion|
|FirstRand (FNB)||$7.8 billion|
|Absa Bank||$7.6 billion|
Reach and network
As banks accelerate their digital transformation, physical branches and ATM networks are moving in the opposite direction. Where branches aren’t being closed altogether, the space they currently occupy is actively being reduced. In the Covid-19 era, the digital drive has accelerated further, while physical points of presence have been reduced further.
However, banks have made it clear that a physical presence is still vital to servicing customers. Branches and ATMs are still key to operations. To this end, Standard Bank has the most expansive branch network, while Absa has the most ATMs in its channel network. It’s worth noting that while the banks are actively downscaling these numbers, Capitec is still adding branches. Standard Bank is also the biggest employer across the banks, with over 50,000 employees working across the group.
|Standard Bank||50 115||1 124||6 774|
|Absa Bank||36 737||619||8 660|
|FirstRand (FNB)||37 741||599||4 848|
|Nedbank||28 324||549||4 224|
|Capitec||14 672||857||6 725|
Capitec has grabbed headlines over the years for its strong growth and now sits comfortably as the largest retail bank in the country in terms of active retail customers. At the end of its latest financial year, the group reported 15.7 million active customers. In the months since, it has grown that figure further – 16.8 million customers. Having millions of customers is a goal for all groups to reach financial targets, however, thanks to social networks and big data capabilities, customer satisfaction has become a valued metric to determine success. The latest South African Consumer Satisfaction Index for the country’s retail banks showed that Capitec and Nedbank customers are the happiest with their services, while Absa and Standard Bank lag behind.
|Active retail customers SA (FY2020/21)||Customer Satisfaction (2021)|
|Absa Bank||9.7 million||78.6|
|Standard Bank||9.3 million||77.7|
|FirstRand (FNB)||7.5 million||80.2|
Source: https://businesstech.co.za/news/banking/528152/battle-of-the-banks-capitec-vs- standard-bank-vs-fnb-vs-absa-vs-nedbank/
- Assume you are working as the marketing manager for one of the Big 5 Banks. As part of you strategic planning process, you are required to conduct a competitive analysis of the banking industry. Using information from the case study and additional research conduct an industry analysis of the South African banking industry and highlight the key forces driving the industry.
- Standard Bank is one of the pioneers in the banking industry. In light of the case study above, discuss how the pioneering move is assisting Standard Bank in maintaining market leadership in the industry.
- Positioning strategies seek differential advantages. Positioning defines where the product (item or service) stands in relation to others offering similar products and services in the marketplace as well as the mind of the consumer.
Using one of the Big 5 Banks as an example, discuss how the bank differentiated and positioned itself in the South African Banking industry. Use perceptual maps to illustrate your answer.
- Organisations such as banks offer services. Unlike products, services have four distinctive characteristics that greatly affect the design of marketing programs: intangibility, inseparability, variability, and perishability. Discuss the strategies that can be adopted by banks to effectively address the challenges posed by these services characteristics.
Assume you are the marketing manager for PEP, a South African fashion retail company. As a result of the Covid pandemic, the organisation has made a strategic decision to expand into Southern and Central African countries. Discuss the criterion you will adopt to decide on the countries to enter.
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