ShapeShifter, Evergreen Content

How RMB went from 'too poor to buy a photocopier' to the largest bank in SA

(These interviews form part of the Solutionist Thinking podcast series. Click here for more.)

The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield sat down with GT Ferreira, Laurie Dippenaar and Paul Harris, the inspirational founders of Rand Merchant Bank (RMB).

“The Three Musketeers” opened up about their four-decades-long successful partnership.

When Harris, Dippenaar and Ferreira founded RMB in June of 1977 they had no idea that it would become a multi-billion rand behemoth.

Legend has it that – before it became South Africa’s largest bank (and shareholder of Momentum, OUTsurance and Discovery Health) – the founders stayed fit by running downstairs to make copies as the business had no money to buy its own machine!

Why the partnership succeeded

Ferreira, Dippenaar and Harris believe their value systems, complementary talents and beliefs around culture formed part of what tied them firmly together.

They proactively managed and invested in the culture of FirstRand.

We realised that this was very important and we realised that the value system and the culture of the organisation was probably its most important asset.

Paul Harris, founder at Rand Merchant Bank

When an opportunity to buy FNB presented itself, RMB had no money.

The trio used shares in their company to buy the bank, and the rest is history.

A reverse takeover is probably the most underestimated or underrated strategy, where you let somebody else take you over in exchange of shares but you actually become the majority shareholder.

GT Ferreira, founder at Rand Merchant Bank

In the beginning, there was much resistance to change.

It took ten years to adapt the culture of FNB to more of a FirstRand culture.

Bruce Whitfield, The Money Show

RMB has successfully navigated financial crises, rejection and disappointment on the road to phenomenal success.

For more detail listen to the interviews in the audio below.

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