Back in 2016, South African bank Capitec beat out about 99 other banks from around the globe to emerge as the best bank in the world. That feat raised the profile of the South African financial system. It also catapulted the owner of the bank, Michiel le Roux, to the limelight as well. Le Roux has remained firmly entrenched in the spotlight since then and has become one of the five wealthiest persons in his country, with a net worth of $1.3 billion.
Michiel le Roux primarily made his wealth thanks to his foresight and ingenuity in the banking system. These two qualities ensure that Capitec remains one of South Africa’s biggest banks and Le Roux remains focused on his vision of taking his company to great heights. He has been heralded for what he has achieved in the banking sector, with many equating it to what Bill Gates means for software and what Mohammad Ali represents in boxing.
Michiel Le Roux Originally Trained To Be A Lawyer Before Going On To Serve In The Military
Born on the 20th of May 1949, Michiel le Roux hails from the South African city of Stellenbosch and spent his formative years there. He also conducted his education there and went on to obtain a bachelor of commerce degree as well as a law degree from the University of Stellenbosch. Armed with such qualifications, Michiel was headed for life as a lawyer but he found it quite boring and uninteresting. He, therefore, joined the South African military and spent some period with them before returning to civilian life.
Michiel le Roux’s return to civilian life saw him join the South African Distilleries and Wines Ltd Stellenbosch in 1979. He went on to spend about 14 years with the company during which he rose to the position of managing director. After 14 years of wheeling and dealing in the wines and spirits industry, Le Roux sought fresh challenges and found them in the banking system. He, therefore, joined a small regional bank in Cape Town named Boland Bank Ltd, serving as their managing director from 1995 to 1997. From there, he went on to serve as the CEO of other banks such as BoE Durban and NBS Boland Group Durban, Kwazulu-Natal.
Michiel le Roux’s Educational Qualifications
- University of Stellenbosch (bachelor of commerce) – 1970
- University of Stellenbosch (bachelor of laws) – 1972
Le Roux Subsequently Delved Into Banking and Established His Capitec Bank in 2000
Having garnered much experience in banking, Michiel Le Roux began to look out for opportunities to go into business for himself. One of them came when a colleague at the investment company, PSG, advised him to go into micro-lending. He initially rejected this idea but later saw that it made enough sense as low-income people were more likely to spend more. He, therefore, joined hands with PSG and they bought the licenses of a failed bank, Business Bank, and used it to start Capitec in 2001.
From just a handful of customers at commencement, Capitec has grown to become one of the biggest banks in South Africa with not less than 7.3 million active clients, 800 branches, and 13,000 employees. They also hold more than $1 billion of shareholders’ funds and Le Roux owns an 11% stake in the company. This stake helped him to acquire a net worth of $290 million in 2011 and five years later, his net worth reached $530 million. He then joined the billionaires club for the very first time in 2019 with his net worth reaching $1.2 billion.
- Capitec Bank (chairman from 2007 – 2016 and board member from 2016 till date)
— Property Guy 🇿🇦 (@Thakhani_R) January 11, 2018
His Capitec Bank Was Named the Best Bank in the Globe In 2016
Despite his fortune, Michiel le Roux remains a simple and unassuming guy and it is these exact qualities that have contributed to his career success. While most banks turn a blind eye to low-income people, namely the unbanked and unbankable, Capitec has courted them over the years and transformed them from people who want small loans to transactional banking clients who deposit their salaries and manage their transactions through Capitec accounts, thus leading to many profits for the bank.
Michiel le Roux also keeps things simple with regard to the operations of his bank. Every Capitec staff is treated the same while he doesn’t get to enjoy any special pecks, like his own garage or first-class flights, just because he is the founder of the bank. All this and some smart property decisions over the years helped Capitec to emerge as a foremost bank in South Africa and their reputation was further cemented when the International Banking Advisory Group, Lafferty, crowned them the best bank in the globe in 2016.
In making its assessment, Lafferty utilized a combination of financial and non-financial disclosures to determine the quality of Capitec as well as their business model. They also analyzed other indicators such as strategy, culture, customer satisfaction, and executing brand promises. Capitec ended up being the only bank to achieve five stars, thus emerging as the best bank in the globe and defeating other South African banks such as Nedbank and Standard Bank. It also beat out global banks such as HSBC, Goldman Sachs, and Wells Fargo, on its way to achieving the feat.
- Capitec Bank
— Capitec (@CapitecBankSA) March 18, 2016
Michiel Le Roux Established The Millennium Trust in 2010 to Help Combat Unemployment and Education Among Other Pressing Challenges in South Africa
Michiel le Roux is not all about making a profit as he is also committed to giving back to his society. To this end, he established The Millennium Trust in 2010 which is aimed at dealing with some of South Africa’s most pressing issues. They include independent media and investigative journalism, independent judiciary and human rights, clean and efficient government, economic policies that promote inclusive growth and higher levels of employment, supporting basic education to learners in low-income communities, celebrating what is good and wonderful in South Africa as well as addressing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
To date, The Millennium Trust has supported several organizations whose activities align with its stated objectives. They include 71point4 – a strategic research consultancy on issues of labor and employment and Acorn Education which supports no-fee public schools to provide high-quality education. Another organization that has benefitted from The Millennium Trust is Alliance for rural democracy. This is a non-profit which is geared towards contesting policies and legislation that undermine the rights of rural citizens living in the former Bantustans and which threatens to dispossess them of their land rights.
Other beneficiaries of The Millennium Trust are the Children’s Institute, Community Keepers, Corruption Watch, Council For The Advancement of the Constitution, Daily Maverick, Flower Valley Conservation Trust, Gary Kirsten Foundation, Grassy Park Rowing Club, GroundUp, Gun Free South Africa, Helen Suzman Foundation, Institute For Security Studies, Investigative Journalism Hub, Karoo Development Foundation, Legal Resources Center, Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, Amabhungane Center for Investigative Journalism, and Black Slash.
List of Awards and Recognitions Received By Michiel Le Roux
- Honorary doctorate degree of commerce (D.Comm) from Stellenbosch University in 2015.
- Best bank in the world (on behalf of Capitec bank) in 2016.