FirstBank to maintain focus on retail banking, consumer financing
FirstBank said its continued focus on retail banking and consumer financing will drive its future and growth expansion strategy. It also plans gradually shifting towards a high yield diversified portfolio by aggressively targeting the middle class consumer market.
Explaining the rationale for this, the bank said: “The market opportunity is evident in the fact that consumer spending, which is a major driver of domestic demand in developed economies, still constitutes a relatively lower percentage of the gross domestic product (GDP) in Nigeria.
Although FirstBank has been in the news for various reasons; some good, some not so good, the not-so-good are pointers to weak links that need to be tackled within the system, while the good will buoy the bank push harder to meet customer satisfaction and deliver better value to all stakeholders.
It noted that “All the accolades attest to FirstBank’s exceptional commitments to promoting national economic growth and development through constructive engagements with the public and private sectors of the growing Nigerian economy.”
Whether good or not so good, the 15-member FirstBank Group, has come a long way since it opened shop in the Nigerian financial services sector over 123 years ago, starting from a modest scale offering to becoming the largest private sector financial services provider in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa). Through the years, the Bank has maintained a leading position in many of the markets in which it operates, and has become a well recognised brand with a large customer base.
In recognition of this fact, FirstBank was recently adjudged the most valuable bank brand in Nigeria in The Top 500 Banking Brands of The Banker magazine of the Financial Times and Brand Finance, London, United Kingdom, which it has won for six consecutive times. It topped other leading competitors like GTBank, Zenith Bank, Access Bank, UBA and a host of others operating in the country to clinch the title.
The FirstBank brand is valued at $301 million, which the Chief Executive of Brand Finance, David Haigh, explained that the brand value is the amount a third party will need to pay to use the brand name.
But the brand has also won many other accolades both locally and internationally such as the “Best Financial Reporting Company” in 2011 award by Africa Investor, one of Africa’s most respected multimedia investment news and information publishers as well as the “Most Innovative Bank in Africa” by African Banker Awards.
Indeed, FirstBank was the first quoted company in Nigeria to achieve the feat of hitting the N1trillion mark in market capitalisation, the clearest evidence of its worth on The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and with over 1.3 million shareholders globally.
The Bank said the awards “represents a global recognition of the giant strides the Bank has made over the years in deploying technology to power its operations and services, and ultimately making banking services more convenient, accessible and faster.” It added, “These are major feats in the Bank’s customer-oriented and innovative financial services that confirm the Bank’s interest in promoting its customers’ lifestyles and businesses.”
Against this backdrop, the Bank said it will reinforce its efforts “to lead innovative drive in the banking products, services and initiatives as well as strive to maintain the highest standards of performance expected of a global brand.”
Through the decades, the bank has undergone various reforms, and in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) directives, in 2012, the FirstBank Group adopted a holding company structure, FBN Holdings Plc, in recognition of the need to retain the diversity of the Bank’s businesses. This, it added, will also enable it to provide “a full range of financial services needs to customers beyond commercial banking, to investment banking, insurance and other financial services.”
Parts of the reforms also saw the Bank optimising procurement by implementing strategic sourcing and demand management, while tightening budget controls, alongside implementing an Enterprise Resource Planning/ (ERP) solution to eliminate process redundancies. It also introduced the Enterprise Risk Management solution to strengthen risk management and controls.
According to it, “The cost optimisation initiatives have significantly reduced the operating expenses of the Bank and its subsidiaries to N144.9 billion as at September 2016 (Sept 2015: N155.8 billion) in spite of double digit inflation.
To achieve this, the bank also needed to overhaul its processes, and became the first financial institution in Nigeria to achieve the latest version of ISO quality standards: the Quality Management Systems certification ISO 9001:2015 from the International Standards Organisation (ISO). The certification is proof of the Bank’s demonstrated ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer needs as well as applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.
It also has in its kitty, the prestigious ISO/IEC 27001:2005 certification, the world’s highest accreditation for information protection and security from the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). By this certification, FirstBank distinguished itself as the first organisation in Nigeria to achieve the ISO 27001, which is an affirmation that the Bank has adopted and complied with the highest known standards in information security globally. After three years of certification, FirstBank has successfully implemented the recertification of ISO/IEC 27001:2005 in 2013.
In addition to this certification, FirstBank again became the first organisation to be awarded the BS25999 certification, the highest accreditation in Business Continuity Management received from the British Standard Institute. The certifications confirm the Bank’s ability to safeguard its assets, staff well-being and customers’ investments, and favourably respond to incidents and business disruption to ensure business continuity at all times.
There can be no institution or process without people, and with 9099 core staff and 11, 462 none core staff, the FirstBank Group’s manpower development policy recognises the invaluable contribution that human resources make to the growth and development of countries successfully navigating from third world to developed country status.
Leading the Dr. Adesola Kazeem Adeduntan (FCA), Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, First Bank of Nigeria Limited and Subsidiaries, who in the over one year of assuming office anchored reforms that have fortified business policies and growth. He has also driven enhanced profitability through improved revenue generation, cost optimisation and shared services.
At the end of the 2016 financial year, the Group’s Total Assets hit over N4.835trillion, with Gross Earnings N381,012billion. Under his leadership, the Bank is building an efficiency culture by exploring shared services to optimise back office operations and spend across its subsidiaries.
Consequently, its human capital management initiatives are geared towards providing necessary support to staff, departments, and the various business drivers to enable the Bank achieve its goals and objectives.
FirstBank has a total of 758 outlets including branches and agencies/cash centres, with about 14 million account holders, continuously boosts its customer-base, which cuts across all segments in terms of size, structure and sectors.
Its FirstMobile recorded a milestone in its user numbers with the attainment of one million active users, and also reached N1.3trillion transactions mark in its short period of launch.
Building on of a solid foundation with branches in the United Kingdom, France, South Africa, China, United Arab Emirates, Democratic Republic of Congo, The Gambia, Sierra-Leone, Ghana and Guinea, and Senegal, FirstBank has kept pace with the global operating developments. Through this, it has responded to the dynamic needs of its customers, investors, regulators, host communities, employees and other stakeholders.
FirstBank is actively involved in the agricultural sector of the economy and has been a major financier of various types of assets for the establishment, expansion and modernisation of various agricultural enterprises. The Bank has introduced customer-friendly and need-focused product schemes, partnered with international organisations and collaborated with Federal, State governments and the CBN, to support the sector.
In March 2017, the bank hosted its Agric expo as part of its commitment to support agriculture businesses across the value chain and to play its enabling role in the nation’s drive for economic diversification through agriculture.
It also promised to “continue to lead innovative drive in the development of banking products, services and initiatives as well as strive to maintain the highest standards of performance expected of a global brand that ahead of the pack with outstanding people, infectious passion and sustainable partnerships.