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Standard Chartered: The evangelism of Peter Sands

Standard Chartered’s senior bankers admit there is something old fashioned about the way the bank does business. Even its CEO, Peter Sands, is a throwback – a banker mostly lauded rather than criticized for his performance. StanChart has consistently delivered a level of income and profit growth most of its peers can only dream of. Is its traditional approach a model for modern banking?

About a year ago some 700 of Standard Chartered’s most senior managers from businesses throughout the world gathered together in Singapore to attend one of the bank’s annual jamborees on strategy and development.

Many had flown in from each of the far-flung corners of the world where Standard Chartered does business to attend the event hosted by Peter Sands, group chief executive, and chairman Sir John Peace.

As far as bank jamborees go, there was nothing particularly different or new about this one. Staff divided into groups of 10 to 15 people a table before being presented with a series of team-building puzzles to tackle throughout the day.

Once seated, and with each group allocated $100 million in fictitious money to invest, Sands and Sir John set the first challenge: to decide where in the world to invest the bank’s money. But before they could decide, two presentations only were given on the growth prospects of China and Africa.

After listening attentively to what was said, each group deliberated, then made their selections on where to invest.

Recognizing not just the power and impact the two presentations must have had, but a country and continent where the "old Empire bank" is historically strong – China and Africa were unanimously voted the top investment targets.