RMB Solutionist Thinking
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Solutionist Thinking: In Conversation with FirstRand's founders

Solutionist Thinking with RMB is a thirteen-episode podcast series hosted by Bruce Whitfield focusing on the great South African minds who are thinking differently and going against the norm. In this bonus episode, Whitfield interviews FirstRand founders, GT Ferreira, Laurie Dippenaar and Paul Harris.

Three Solutionist Thinkers in one episode, Bruce Whifield sits down with the Three Musketees of the banking world to uncover the secrets behind four decades of successful partnership.

When entrepreneurs, Paul Harris, Laurie Dippenaar and GT Ferreira opened the doors of Rand Merchant Bank in June of 1977 after Pat Goss had left to run his family's business – they had no idea that it would become what it is today, a multi-million rand enterprise built on a strong value system.

Started from humble beginnings – legend has it that before it became the largest bank in South Africa, the founders had to run downstairs to make copies because the business couldn't afford its own copy machine.

Today, its team has invested in over 40 businesses that include Momentum, OUTsurance and, Discovery Health over a period of 15 years.

But, what made the partnership work?

From the onset, the founders' realisation that their value systems, complementary talents and beliefs around culture formed part of what tied them closely together.

This realisation led to them proactively manage and invest 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, founding member of Rand Merchant Bank

In a unique turn of events, the founders were presented with an opportunity to takeover First National Bank but, without actual money to proceed with the purchase, the trio used the shares of their existing operations to secure the business.

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 majority shareholder.

GT Ferreira, founding member of Rand Merchant Bank

And, with any business takeover – resistance to change and adaption to new cultures became one of the main areas that needed to be addressed.

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

Bruce Whitfield, The Money Show

Their secret to success?

Together, their core beliefs and value system helped the trio weather storms that included financial crises, rejection and disappointments along the road to success.

Listen to the three founders of FirstRand in conversation with Bruce Whitfield, as they discuss their rise to success in the banking industry in the full episode of Solutionist Thinking with RMB.


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