As a run-up to Standard Bank Namibia’s 100-year anniversary later this year, the bank is profiling some of their phenomenal long-standing and loyal customers, showing how the bank has contributed to their lives.
An accountant by training, a CA by profession and a farmer for the love of the land, Chris Smith has been banking with Standard Bank for 42 years. He is one of the bank longest-standing clients who still actively manages his own financial affairs.
Coming from the rocky and dry grasslands of his farm in the Rehoboth district, 79-year old Smith is an old-school accountant. Best-known for his role as auditor in the firm CJ Smith & Co. he has been an active auditor until his firm was taken over by his erstwhile partner, Andrew Jamieson.
Forty two years ago Smith opened his very first Standard Bank cheque account at the Windhoek Branch. He proudly admits that he’s been running his cattle business with Standard Bank’s money ever since. “I can still remember when I could just walk into my branch and speak to my Branch Manager Mr Jan Theron to ask for an over-draft facility for my farming business and I got it on the spot,” said Smith reminiscing about the no-nonsense, straight-talking Theron who has helped many a small business to get off its feet.
Smith is also the full-time caretaker of his wife of 55 years, Jackie Smith, who has been bedridden for some years following the diagnosis of an intestinal cancer known as Crohn’s Disease.
As he relates his story, one realizes that he is a father with a mission to do something affectionate for his wife. Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease, he explained, adding that it may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract. There is no medication or surgical procedures that can cure Crohn’s disease. “I am blessed with so many years added to my life. So the least I can do for my dear Jackie and others like her is what I hope to achieve by the time I turn 80 next year,” said Smith with a warm smile.
Besides his wife whom he supported for the past three years, Smith has the idea of expanding his mission to touch the lives of other cancer patients by walking from Windhoek to Swakopmund on behalf of the Cancer Association of Namibia.
On his long banking relationship, Smith said “I stayed with Standard Bank because it was my first and also nowadays it takes a lot of effort and time to change to another bank. So, I’m here to stay because Standard Bank offered me many opportunities to grow my business and sustain my family – and I am satisfied.”
Coincidently the bank blood also runs in the family as one of his daughters, Heloise Smith works for Standard Bank in Johannesburg, South Africa in the procurement of foreign investors.
Besides his farming business, Smith has a rich history and qualifications as a Charted Accountant from the University of South Africa (UNISA) and an MBA through the University of Cape Town in South Africa. He is widely recognised as one of the pioneer auditors of Namibia, ranking up there with other stalwarts like CJ Malherbe.
There is a saying in Afrikaans that ‘n Boer maak ‘n plan which literally translates – a farmer makes a plan – and for Smith his plan is to walk that long walk for cancer patients on his 80th birthday come 20 January next year.
For the meantime, he has no intention of banking with any other bank.