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Retail banking: Survival strategy centred on lifestyle

By Chijioke Nelson
06 July 2016   |   3:30 am
Introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) by government, which shut public sector funds from banks has put them on a creative path. They now push for personal and retail banking as a survival strategy.
Mr Ladi Balogun, CEO First City Monument Bank

Mr Ladi Balogun, CEO First City Monument Bank

Introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) by government, which shut public sector funds from banks has put them on a creative path. They now push for personal and retail banking as a survival strategy.

However, the challenge has remained the ability to create new ideas that would stand distinct from others in a market that appeared saturated, with trickling profile in terms of returns.

Of course, over the years, banking in Nigeria has progressed from the traditional financial service activities to become a core part of the lifestyle of individuals, businesses and societies.

These days, the assessment and success of corporate organisations, including banks, are largely measured by their level of connection with the people and the customer-centric solutions they offer.

For example, there are financial transactions solutions that offer colour, biometric, picture, wider interconnectedness and contactless options, in an effort to suit the choice of customers.

Co-founder of GSD&M, a leading advertising firm in the United States of America, Roy Spence, once declared that “every business needs to be in the business of improving customers’ lives’’. This fact succinctly captures the ongoing banking industry strategy in the retail space.

For First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited, this declaration underlies its business philosophy and indeed the way to go in the drive to attain the highest levels of customer advocacy, consolidate position as an inclusive lender.

Recounting experience of a humble beginning 33 years ago, as a stockbroking company and an Issuing House with brand name- City Securities Limited (CSL) and subsequently a merchant bank, FCMB Group said it has sustained the course despite challenging macroeconomic and regulatory environments.

“Though the journey has witnessed low and high moments, FCMB has risen above challenges over the years to emerge as one of the leading retail and commercial banking-led institutions in corporate Nigeria. This speaks volumes about the resilience, endurance, robustness and viability of the brand to sustainably deliver exceptional banking services to individuals, groups and organisations across segments,” the bank noted.

Analysts are of the opinion that the ability of the bank to constantly reinvent itself, people and processes, in tandem with the current and emerging  dynamics of the environment is largely on account of its age-long belief in “excellence and professionalism.”

In April 2015, the bank embarked on a massive and revolutionary brand realignment, which led to a replacement of its former colours of black and gold with a vibrant combination of purple and yellow that speaks to a wider audience. The development was followed with the launch of a new thematic campaign tagged, “A World of Opportunity”.

A brand analyst said the campaign, tied to the refreshed corporate identity of the bank, tells compelling stories of life and business aspirations of diverse Nigerians and how the lender supports them to bring such dreams and aspirations to reality. This is in conformity to the true spirit of the brand’s pay-off line-  “My Bank and I”

This move has continued to be widely accepted by the market, just as it has also gone a long way to resonate and deepen the FCMB brand as a leading retail franchise thereby impacting positively on business performance.

“Today, the branches of the bank and other touch points now wear a new look and feel. Beyond this, the development has further inspired the team of highly professional and friendly staff of the bank to significantly raise the stakes in the level of service delivery to meet the needs of existing and potential customers. I can attest to that,” the analyst said.

The financial institution, with its location and business outlets- branches and alternate channels nationwide, has raved up retail transactions’ profile in the industry, providing prompt and convenient banking solutions as well as promoting financial inclusion in line with its values as a simple, reliable and helpful entity.

Three weeks ago, it opened another branch at Gbagada, in Lagos, as part of its expansion plan to reach and make its services accessible to customers and members of the general public.

In 2014, FCMB achieved an additional 500,000 customers, thereby becoming one of the fastest growing retail banks in the country. And in 2015, the bank acquired an average of 55,000 new customers monthly and disbursed 20,000 new loans, with over 2,000 monthly to women-owned micro-enterprises.

Currently, it has about 700 Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), 12,000 Point of Sale (PoS) terminals and 71 agent banking outlets, with a plan to grow to 800 agents, across the country.

Already, this year, the lender plans to grow substantially in retail banking by adding over 600,000 customers to the existing 3.2 million as at January.

Smart branching and technology will play an equally important role in attaining this objective and show that the brand has continued to be on the upswing.

The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the bank, Ladi Balogun, said: “We have a great foundation to continue to build on and we are confident that our strategy is building the necessary resilience.

“We will continue to reinforce our position as an inclusive lender by supporting sectors that will drive the prosperity of the markets in which we operate. We will also bring greater accessibility to a broad range of financial services. By doing so, we will continue to strengthen our resolve to build a very resilient financial services franchise.

“We will be the bank that everyone wants to bank with, do business with, and turn opportunities into realities. That is because we stand for professionalism through respecting customers and colleagues and following through on promises. We stand for sustainability through responsible actions and making a positive impact.

“We are customer-focused by listening, responding and acting on what others want. We set high standards and always aim for continuous improvement in pursuit of excellence’’.