In August 2022, SAP and SAP Fioneer partner bancon announced the completion of their domestic merger with Thought Advisory South Africa. A strategic move that would strengthen bancon’s position as the go-to SAP Financial Services specialists in the Southern African region. Six months on we spoke with some of the global leadership team to find out what the biggest challenges, changes, surprises and successes have been since the merger and what their joint ambitions are for 2023.


Thanks all for making time to have a quick chat with us. First of all, how have you found the last 6 months?

Jörg Mauelshagen, Co-Founder and Group Director of bancon starts: “Busy. We have delivered a lot in the last six months and I’m incredibly proud of the successes achieved. A key one has been the fresh ideas coming from the, now expanded, global management team. This fresh thinking, additional capacity and optimism created from the merge has put us in a fantastic position, enabling us to work on more opportunities, make swifter decisions and strengthen our overall delivery capabilities.’’

Theunis Greeff, Managing Director, Financial Services, Southern Africa at bancon adds: “It’s gone by in a flash! The announcement of the merger last year generated a lot of excitement in the local market. Customers locally now have the benefit of access to additional services, experience and knowledge through our international talent, experiences and skill-set, offering a new niche SAP and SAP Fioneer partner option in South Africa. Providing an alternative to the big incumbent partners that they haven’t had before.”

Bradley Jarrett, Group Director, Financial Services at bancon comments: “Where do I start? News of the merger created a flurry of interest, excitement and opportunity which we capitalised on with great success. The merger has given bancon access to a bigger talent pool which has enabled us to navigate the tighter labour market better than most, and provide our clients with greater access to talent. In addition, many applicants are seeing the value in being part of a larger team with impressive credentials, and want to be a part of that.”


What have you found to be the biggest challenges?

Jörg: “It was a tough start, mainly logistically with all the different internal processes, but we have managed well integrating the two companies together. Thought Advisory brought with them some efficient inter-company processes and some of their processes were more automated than bancon’s, so we had to decide which to adopt. We had two-sets of everything – vacation process, sickness process, contract drafts – and it was critical we adopted the best of each company.”

Brad: ‘‘I’d have to follow Jörg and say the administration side was certainly more cumbersome than initially expected. The extra time this consumed really strained capacity within the leadership team, but thankfully senior members from our consulting teams really stepped up to ensure day-to-day continuity. It really makes you appreciate the talent within the team during times like this.”


So, what has been the easiest change to make?

Theunis: “I think that would have to be bringing the two teams together, as many had already worked together. Both companies share a very similar culture and values, which is why the merger always made sense. Everyone almost immediately started working well together as one team, and have enjoyed learning from each other and having the exposure to wider experience.”

Brad: “I’ve had lots of great feedback from the existing bancon team about the seamless working relationship, there is a genuine appetite to learn from each other. As a truly global team we are sharing knowledge from around the world, and not just work related but about different cultures, celebrations and favourite local foods!”


Tell us about the initial successes you have had together?

Jörg: “We’ve mentioned it but I think one of our biggest successes is the strength of the team since merging. Our uniqueness is in the people we hire, the ideas they inspire and the output they produce. We’ve brought together some of the best talent under one roof and we will be one to watch in 2023, some exciting things to come I’m sure. We are also close to signing an exciting and significant collaboration with one of Africa’s most prominent financial institutions that we pitched to within the weeks leading up to the finalisation of the merge. Look forward to sharing more soon.”

Theunis: “I think for me the massive opportunity to expand our global and local footprint has been a key highlight. Adding to what we can offer locally through Thought Advisory and vice versa internationally through bancon. We’ve already been able to expand our services with long-term client Discovery Bank, along with welcoming 6 new clients from across Southern Africa all of which have lofty aspirations for 2023. They are excited about the global talent they now have access to, while at the same time delighted to see investment coming into the country and our focus on developing skills within the country itself.”

Brad: “Definitely broadening our pool of talent and establishing another international delivery hub from within South Africa. Having another option to export talent is a huge benefit for us and our customers and complements our existing talent well. The similar time zone, cultural similarities and speaking the same language all make South Africa a good and easy option. The ability to blend talent from Europe, India and now South Africa has allowed us to better support projects internationally with the likes of ING, Discovery Bank and Rabobank having greater access to skills, experience and knowledge.”


Sounds like lots has been happening. If you had to sum up one single thing that makes Thought Advisory and bancon such a strong partnership, what would it be?

Jörg: “I’d have to say our shared business values and approach to working with our customers and our employees. We really do want to achieve the best results, for the best cost so we are really adding value to customers, and the team get real job satisfaction from the autonomy to develop new solutions, processes and ideas.”

Theunis: “I completely agree. Our business cultures are almost identical - we share the same vision, mission, aspirations and passion.”


What makes South Africa such a strong technology hub?

Brad: “For bancon, we wanted to invest in South Africa through the learnings of our own people there. We learnt about Thought Advisory and the affinity with bancon, it just made sense. The team as a whole and the leadership team are such an asset to bancon, their insight of the market and knowledge combined add a huge amount of clout to the bancon Group that we can bring to the global stage. Practically, as an international merge it works because the cultures, timezones and advancements in the market are similar to Europe.”

Theunis: “Historically, South Africa has been a hub for the Financial Services sector especially SAP and SAP Fioneer who have a broad set of financial institutions leveraging their software. It is one of the more advanced in the world from an ideal and operational perspective. There is a great amount of talent available and the IT infrastructure and services are very good. So, for an internationally growing company like bancon, having a hub in South Africa is a true asset.”


What are your plans for 2023 and beyond?

Theunis: “There has been lots of planning sessions to ensure we go from strength to strength with our SAP capability in the market this year. We want to solidify our position as the go-to SAP partner for Financial Services. Ensuring we have the right talent, at the right time, at the right price by leveraging talent across our global teams. In the future, the team’s experience can translate across into other domains, extending services beyond SAP and into other practises.”

Brad ‘‘I’d agree with Theunis and say that solidifying our position as the go-to SAP and SAP Fioneer partner, both in South Africa and globally, is critical. Also continuing to invest in South Africa to maintain our position as the continents largest privately owned SAP Financial Services specialist is a priority. Globally, I want to see us continue to blend our teams as well as we did in 2022 and further increase the value we deliver to our clients, prospective clients and employees.”

Jörg: “2022 was just the start and if Q4 was anything to go by, I’d say 2023 is set to surpass that by some margin. Investment in our people, regardless of where they are located is fundamental. Our banconeers give purpose to what we do, and we shall continue to focus our efforts in making bancon the best place to work. bancon are also looking to invest and establish a presence in new markets this year. More to come on that.”

If you like what you hear, get in touch.