‘We are innovating ways and manners of providing service to our customers’
Following the grand launch of its Platinum Banking Customer Value Proposition in Lagos recently, Nkolika Okoli, Head, Personal Banking, Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC, spoke with The Guardian about the bank’s revamped exclusive banking offering and other related issues. Excerpt:
Can you tell us what Stanbic IBTC Bank Private Banking is all about?
The Stanbic IBTC Platinum Private Banking (PPB) offering is an exclusive platform for servicing our HNI clients consisting mostly of Executives in the companies we deal with at the Corporate and Investment Banking and Business Banking levels. Our PPB business is built around our ecosystem strategy, which aims to deliver end-to-end financial services across the spectrum for all our clients covering the corporate entities, the executives that run the corporate organisations as well as their families. These clients are serviced from exclusive suites located in Lagos Island and Mainland, Abuja and Port-Harcourt by dedicated and well-trained Relationship Managers as well as our Platinum Support Centre (PSC), which ensures the clients receive top notch service wherever they are. The PSC is manned by experienced Transactional Bankers who give back-up service to ensure a Private Banking client is never left stranded.
Private Banking isn’t exactly a new offering from your stable. What exactly differentiates the Platinum Banking from your Bank’s previously offered Private Banking service?
In reality both are the same. In the Standard Bank Group parlance we use private and platinum banking inter-changeably. What we have done is to revamp the offering by upgrading the dedicated suites and creating the Platinum Support Centre to ensure that clients in locations where there are no dedicated Private Banking Suites experience the same level of platinum service standards.
Your bank is renowned for its experience and expertise in corporate and investment banking, not so much is known about your Private Banking expertise. How robust is yours as a niche area?
This is a surprise! Our Private Banking business is as old as our CIB business, but as an institution we have always believed that banking is a conservative business. So we have gone about our business in a very quiet but professional manner. Our clients can attest to the standard of service they have always received. If you think back, you will remember that IBTC Bank has always been a market leader in the asset management business and our money market funds have been voted the best. These are the backbones of Private banking as high net worth individuals (HNIs) have needs beyond transactional banking. So they need a partner that understands wealth management and financial advisory locally and offshore and this is where Stanbic IBTC stands out because with all sense of humility I daresay ‘we have it all’ in-house, that is, within the group on and offshore.
You recently unveiled a customer value proposition for the Platinum Banking service; could you please shed some light on this value proposition and its unique selling points?
What we did is simply to revamp our offering to suit the needs of the present day HNIs who are busy and have adopted digital habits. The implication is that they make fewer visits to the suites but will rather prefer to communicate with their Relationship Managers digitally. This is what led to the setting up of the Platinum Support Centre, which ensures clients can reach their transactional bankers to conduct their day-to-day activities remotely and new clients can also be on-boarded remotely. We also refurbished our platinum suites for comfort and to ensure clients can use it for their personal meetings and each suite is staffed to ensure support for the clients. Given the economic recession and high inflation rate, which has seen the cost of living skyrocket, even HNIs are cutting down on expenses, which include Class of Travel. So we thought this is a good time to extend a lounge service program to all our platinum clients and their families so that irrespective of their class of travel locally and internationally, they will still enjoy the comfort and exclusivity of airport VIP lounges for free. Knowing the importance of quality advisory services to HNIs, our relationship managers were re-trained to ensure best-in-class services to our clients. The list is endless and like it is said: “The taste of the pudding is really in the eating.” You have to experience the Stanbic IBTC Platinum Banking Service to get the full import of the offering.
Who are your main target audience for this platinum service?
Primarily we target corporate executives as well as successful business owners and entrepreneurs. We are an organisation with a culture built around ethics and corporate governance, so it’s not just about being wealthy but reputation and credibility.
We noticed that Stanbic IBTC Bank has been aggressively pushing a universal banking value proposition in the last few years. Is this just a marketing strategy? How would you appraise your efforts so far in this regard and what exactly is the rationale behind this strategy?
I think this derives from what we represent as a group. We are a business that offers end-to-end services beyond banking to include Asset Management, Retirement planning, Insurance brokerage, Trusteeship and Legacy services, Stockbroking, and so on. This is both at a local and international level being part of the Standard Bank Group. We also have footprints across Africa as the oldest bank in the continent as well as in the United Kingdom. I think it will not be fair to our customers if we limit our offering to them, we are a universal bank hence the aggressive push to utilise what we have to ensure our customers get the best experience they deserve.
How does being a member of a full financial services group, Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc., a member of Africa’s largest, bank Standard Bank Group, present value adds and opportunities, be it local or international to your Private Banking clients?
Human beings have needs beyond banking transactions and these needs range from business to personal, to family and cover a whole spectrum from financial to lifestyle requirements both for self and family. Nigerians are also very mobile; you will find us earning a living across Africa and in the UK. Stanbic IBTC Holdings, structure provides the perfect platform to fit the lifestyle and behaviours of Nigerians.
Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc has a strong wealth and investment record in Nigeria; how much of this applies or comes to bear in giving Stanbic IBTC Bank an edge over the competition in providing customised solutions to complex individual needs of your private banking clients?
As earlier described, the primary need of HNIs is wealth management and helping them to maximize their wealth. This is actually our forte given our historical experience in the money market as well as stockbroking. We draw on our Wealth and Investment experience to help our customers plan their investment portfolio and where the clients also have investments abroad, we draw on the strength of our parent company, the Standard Bank Group, to meet their offshore needs. So our clients have no need to deal with multiple parties, it’s all in-house from Wealth and Investment planning to helping them secure their Assets under a Trusteeship (locally and offshore) to their Retirement planning, and many more. We have it all covered under Stanbic IBTC Holdings and this is a great advantage our clients leverage on for peace of mind.
Expectedly, your bank’s expansion programme has come with the introduction of a wide array of specialised products and services targeted at various segments of the market. Is the market ripe for many of these products such as Personal Teller Machines (PTM) and self-service digital branch?
Remember I had earlier described how clients’ behaviours have changed over time, people now live a more fast-paced life and are adopting digital behaviours. Our Personal Teller Machines and self service digital branch is a response to this, a customer can walk into our full digital branch at Maryland Mall and literally fulfill a transaction end-to-end without any human interaction. You can speak to a Teller remotely through a screen for enquiries or help and you can make your cash deposit through a machine. Our clients have embraced these innovations, as they are in sync with their lifestyles. We expect to roll out more of these as we digitize our branches and platinum suites.
Most people are often skeptical about accessing financing from banks because of the hidden charges that trail some of these transactions. How has your bank been able to tackle this challenge?
Stanbic IBTC Holdings is a fully compliant financial institution with strong corporate governance structures. In addition to this, we hold dear to the time tested values of integrity and transparency. We are not associated with anything hidden as our charges are clearly spelt out in our offer letters. When there is an occasion to revise the charges we follow the CBN stipulated process to ensure our customers are adequately informed.
With every new day comes more innovation in product and service delivery from many of the banks in the country. What measures have you taken to ensure that you are not left behind in the innovation race? Are there learnings you are drawing from Standard Bank’s operations in other markets?
For us in Stanbic IBTC it’s about our clients, we are not part of the product race and we rarely push products to customers. Our personal banking business is structured to provide service to specific customer segments, we strive to understand customer needs and behaviours and only come up with products to satisfy these needs. We don’t want our branches pushing products at customers. For us, products are a means of meeting client needs and not an end. However, we are innovating the ways and manner of providing service to our customers. So things like our digital branches, PTM, Bulk Teller Machines, New Mobile Banking App, etc speak to this. It’s good to innovate in order to be relevant but it’s a very private ‘race’ for us with only our customers as our focus.
How are you able to design products and services that are targeted at different countries and markets given that the Standard Bank Group, to which Stanbic IBTC belongs, operates in about 20 countries within Africa and also have a strong global footprint?
Though the Standard Bank Group operates across different countries in and out of Africa, each country has autonomy to create products to reflect the unique environ it operates in. Remember my explanation that the client is at the heart of everything we do and client needs differ across the world; this underpins our product development philosophy. However, we also draw on the learnings across the group to share best practice without losing the need for a local touch.
Banking is always evolving, and it is more so in Nigeria that is increasingly adopting technological solutions to deliver services across different segments of the economy. Where do you see banking in Nigeria in the next five years in terms of service delivery?
Digital is the magic word! The cell phone will be the key channel! Any bank that wants to be relevant in the near future cannot afford to ignore the cell phone. I can assure you that Stanbic IBTC Holdings is ready to face this future.