Bank shares strategies used during COVID-19

Saud Minam during the Fiji Institute of Accountants seminar on ethics post COVID-19 held in Suva on Tuesday. Picture: ABISHEK CHAND

WHILE most businesses struggled to grasp with the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 last year ANZ Fiji had put in place certain strategic policies to serve its customers amid the restrictions.

During the Fiji Institute of Accountants seminar on ethics post COVID-19 held earlier this week CEO of ANZ Fiji, Head of Commercial and Retail Banking, Pacific ANZ Bank Saud Minam said they had a great year in 2019 however it wasn’t until later that year that the bank had to go into Business Continuity Plan (BCP) mode.

“The later part of 2019 as everyone recalls there was a measles outbreak, and from there onward until to date we are in BCP mode,” he said.

“We are in an emergency mode, we had measles, while we were fighting measles we got the COVID, while we were fighting with the COVID we had Harold, we had flooding here in Suva and other parts and while we were doing that we got TC Yasa.

“As an institution which is present in about 12 branches across Fiji, we had to make sure that we continued to serve our customers and that was one of the most important parts.” The decision was made to find a way to have the Lautoka branch open since it was cut off from Ba and Nadi.

“Same as like in Nausori to Suva corridor there are lot people living from Ba to Lautoka to Nadi.

“So the first thing you do during any emergency or any disasters is you declare the BCP and the BCP is at different levels of your contingency plans.

“So we declared that as soon as we found out there was a first case.

“Second we found that there was a lockdown we said no we will go into full BCP mode which basically means we had to have the proper communications.”

Mr Minam added it was important to have one or two lines of communication during an emergency or crisis.

“We did as much as communication as we could, but we made sure communication should come from one or two because in any pandemic or any disaster if you got too many communications coming in different places, you got confusion.

“So rule number one to deal in any emergencies you need to establish who is going to be communicating with everyone.”

The second aspect of operating during a pandemic was to ensure whatever was being communicated was precise, short and to the point.

“You need to go straight to the point with the action and move forward, any update comes in it is your responsibility as the head that you should communicate with your people and keep them informed,” he said.

“So that was set and done and we decided to agree on this and we moved forward.”

Staff members of ANZ Fiji had actually called in according to Mr Minam volunteering to staff in lockdown areas to ensure the branches such as in Lautoka were serving its customers.

“This was sort of the support we received from our staff and I am sure everyone at a different level has support at that time.

“So we said no we quickly got out our rosters and said who is in Namaka, can stay in Namaka, can stay in Lautoka, can stay in Ba.

“We shifted the people around and we made sure that we got a full strength in Lautoka branch and the rest of the country was open by then.

“All of a sudden on Sunday morning we got to find out we were short of computers and short of chairs in Lautoka and before the lockdown started, people got into their car had took permission and took the computers off from the office and the chairs and took it back to the Lautoka branch.”

Mr Minam said companies needed to trust its staff members in these sort of circumstances.

“There may be one or two here and they will always try to cheat or something but you don’t penalize the 98 or 99 per cent of them.”

He said a major hurdle was when the Suva lockdown was announced.

“Not only the Pacific headquarters were here in Suva, but we also had the ANZ Pacific Operations which basically does the operations for the rest of the Pacific countries.

“So altogether we have close to about 650 people in Fiji with 400 of them working in these two locations in Suva.”

He said given that working from home had become so common now ANZ made sure to provide its staff members with the respective resources.

“When you come to your office the office has to provide you with one of the best facilities but the same people who are forced to work from home may not have the same stuff available.

“So what we did, we came up with a course that anyone who was working from home has to go online and answer some of the questions, take pictures of your work space and send it to your supervisor.

“So we wanted to find out if there are any issues with where you are working, and we found some of the problems with some of the staff, in terms of maybe the wires were hanging loose, the chair was not right height, the screen was too small they were using most of the day had on these smaller screens and they had to have two screens for their work.

“So we quickly adjusted to that as well and we provided with every single thing that they required asked them to come and pick it up and take it and whenever the situation gets better bring it back.”

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