Access Bank’s new Head of Forex, Gregory Garner, is a well-known figure in the financial services sector.
With more than 14 years of experience, and a passion for sharing the benefits of a well-managed forex strategy with our business banking clients, the future of forex is looking bright with Greg at Access Bank South Africa.
We sat down with Greg to find out more about his plans for the division, and his thoughts on what the Rand may do in 2022.
Welcome to Access Bank. What are you hoping to achieve for the forex division at the bank?
I would like to achieve three things: Firstly, for our forex division to be considered the leading forex department of the Tier Two banks in South Africa. Secondly, to be the most desired place to work for aspiring foreign exchange specialists. Thirdly, to empower the current team to be the best they can be. These goals would obviously include being client-centric, and offering the highest standard of service to our clients – individuals, businesses, and stakeholders alike.
What opportunities in forex do you think Access provides that other banks may not?
I believe we are able to build a truly African Bank, whereby Africans can access the whole continent from any of the 10 or more subsidiaries we have across Africa, and with our digital capabilities, the world.
You are quite a well-known figure in the forex space – what drew you to forex and how did you end up carving your niche here?
I’ve been in the Financial Services market for some 14 years. In 2015 I was appointed as the Marketing & Sales Manager at one of the largest corporate treasury companies in South Africa, IQuad Treasury Solutions. At that time, the organisation had recently been taken over by another corporate treasury company. I had the privilege of being mentored by one of the leading corporate treasurers in the country, Willem Piek, who nurtured a great passion for this industry in me.
What do you wish every business owner who needs forex to run their business knew?
I wish they understood that a properly managed forex strategy can save their businesses a lot of money, and offer them, as business owners or CFOs, peace of mind. There are ways to mitigate (essentially, to protect their margin in their products or services) against the volatility of the Rand when buying and or selling foreign currency. Having a foreign exchange expert on call really can make all the difference.
What resources do you regularly tap into to stay current and even ahead of the curve in your industry?
Our dealers offer invaluable insight into market conditions, so I ensure that I speak to them daily to get an overview of the market conditions. Of course I also research the market every morning, by reading local and international market and economic journals.
What do you think the Rand is going to do in 2022?
[LAUGHS] I haven’t polished my crystal ball since the Covid19 outbreak in March 2020 – who saw that coming?
I believe it’ll be an interesting year for the Rand. Around 80% of the Rand’s volatility is driven by international economic conditions. Internationally, we have the US Federal Reserve (FED) looking at slowing down the printing of cash, and the inflation pressures that are likely to follow will impact the Rand.
We are watching the events unfold with Russia and the Ukraine, with potential additional sanctions likely to be imposed on Russia. We may see additional Covid variants emerge, which could limit international growth again.
The year got off to speedy start with the Fed interest rate decision on the 26th of January 2022, followed by the South African MPC interest rate decision the following day to raise the rate by 25bps.
We are seeing inflation creep up to levels not seen in years, which must be managed. Locally, there’s the continuous drain of the economy by state-owned enterprises (SOEs); along with the jostling for power within the ANC ahead of elective conference.
With all this and more, we must err on the side of caution and know that a ‘black-swan’ event – meaning an unpredictable event that is beyond what is normally expected of a situation and has potentially severe consequences – is around the corner.
Fiscally, we feel that any opportunity to buy around the R15:10/USD is a good one. Our range for the year is R14.80 – R16.20