As GBS Mutual Bank celebrates 143 years of banking in the Eastern Cape, today it continues to thrive and make a significant contribution to the socio-economic welfare of the region. Despite the challenges faced in the current economic climate, the Bank is well placed in terms of capital, liquidity, reserves, technology, governance and human resources.
When John Wood took office as the first chairman of the board of Grahamstown Building Society in 1877 he could not have imagined that it would still be in existence in the city 143 years later. In 1994 Grahamstown Building Society was converted to a Mutual Bank, making it one of the oldest banking institutions in South Africa.
Succeeding Wood were three members of the Stone family — Edward, Kyle and Chris — who will be remembered for their part in the successful leadership of the institution. Between them, these three gentlemen were at the helm for an impressive 68 years. Edward Stone was chairman from 1928 to 1934, Kyle from 1946 to 1983, and Chris from 1983 to 2008. The current board of the bank consists of Professor Owen Skae (chair), Tom Tagg, Dr Peter Clayton, Kerryn Wiblin, Angela Marriner (lead independent) Prof Kevin Maree, Anton Vorster (MD) and Jonty Fincham (executive). The company secretary is Patrick Hornby.
From its early abode in Anglo African Street, close to the Eastern Star newspaper offices, the bank purchased its existing premises, situated at 18/20 Hill Street in 1906, at the time sharing it with Plein’s Café, a barber shop and what was to become the Settlers Ladies’ Club.
After expanding in Cape Town in the early 1990s a branch was opened in Port Elizabeth in 1996, and in Port Alfred a year later. Asset-based finance was added to the bank’s product range in 1997 which has since grown into a significant national business channel. The relocation and modernisation of the Port Alfred branch follows similar initiatives in Cape Town (new Cavendish branch opened in 2018) and Port Elizabeth (new Walmer branch opened in 2019).
On converting to a mutual bank, the GBS assets stood at R167-million, increasing to R500-million in 2006, and reaching the R1-billion mark in 2014. Total assets now exceed R1.6-billion and continue to grow steadily.
GBS Mutual Bank has built its reputation and business on a solid foundation of honesty and integrity, and an ethos that places value on its clients, staff and community above all else. The bank remains well positioned to serve the community and its growing client base in the years to come.