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Adesola Adeduntan: Banker with Midas Touch Gets Global Recognition

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited has under its Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan positioned the brand as a clear leader in promoting financial inclusion in Nigeria. The bank has continually reached the underbanked and un-banked population to reduce poverty, bolster economic growth and development of Nigeria. These milestones have earned Adeduntan the 2019 Cranfield University Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award. The Award is the School’s highest honour and recognises his significant success within the banking industry and sector while upholding the highest standards in business practice.
The 21st century has been remarkable in many aspects. It witnessed the rise of a global economy and increase in power of private enterprise that gives individuals power to run businesses successfully.

It is a century where visionary men dared, achieved and moved longstanding businesses to enviable heights. These private sector leaders succeeded where others feared to try.
Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, the Chief Executive Officer of First Bank of Nigeria Limited and Subsidiaries is one of such leaders.

Adeduntan who took the role to run one of Nigeria’s biggest Tier-1 bank since January 1, 2016 has kept in on a path of sustainable growth and contributions to the nation’s domestic economy.
Prior to his appointment, he was an Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer for the Bank since 2014 when he was appointed to the Board of the Bank. Before joining FirstBank in 2014, Adeduntan was a Director and the pioneer Chief Financial Officer/Business Manager of Africa Finance Corporation (AFC).

He has served as a Senior Vice-President & Chief Financial Officer at Citibank Nigeria Limited, a Senior Manager in the Financial Services Group of KPMG Professional Services and a Manager at Arthur Andersen Nigeria, among other exciting career paths.

The bank chief with several years of banking experience has contributed immensely to sustaining FirstBank’s position as a leading Tier-1 bank in the Nigerian financial services space.
Adeduntan is the recipient of the 2019 Cranfield University Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award, United Kingdom. The Award is the School’s highest honour and recognises those individuals who have achieved significant success within their industry and sector while upholding the highest standards in business practise.

The astute banker has carved a niche for himself by positioning the FirstBank brand as a clear leader in promoting financial inclusion in Nigeria given the significant strides the bank has made in reaching the underbanked and un-banked population designed to reduce poverty and importantly bolster economic growth and development of Nigeria.

As a global thought leader, Adeduntan is well-sought after and has shared his experience and expertise at notable events across the world espousing and even envisioning financial inclusion in the next 125 years.

These events include the 2019 Ethical Finance Conference in the UK which had in attendance over 500 leading finance practitioners from all over the world including with Sarah Breeden, Bank of England; Dame Susan Rice, Banking Standards Board; Gary Gillespie, Chief Economist, Scottish Government; a keynote speaker at 2019 University of Edinburgh Sustainable Business in Africa Forum; The Africa CEO Forum 2018, Abidjan; the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) Annual State of Nigeria Conference as well as 2019 LSE Africa Summit.
Adeduntan has won other laurels due to his sustained professional achievements; significant economic and social impact; leadership qualities as well as a role model. These include the 2018 African Banker of the Year in African Leadership Magazine Persons of the Year Award in South Africa.

Analysts believe that the award of the 2019 Cranfield University Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award, United Kingdom to Adeduntan was in recognition of key milestones the bank has achieved under his leadership.

Agent Banking Milestones

First Bank has under Adeduntan expressed its commitment to continue to drive financial inclusion through its over 37,000 Firstmonie Agent Network present in 99 per cent of the 774 local government areas and has processed over N2 trillion through the initiative.

FirstBank’s Firstmonie service provides financial/banking solutions to rural and semi-urban locations across the country. Such solutions include account opening, cash deposit, cash withdrawals, airtime purchase, bill payments and much more. Through this channel, the bank is committed to providing convenient services that engender and provides ease of access to banking products, thereby saving time and travel costs for users of the network.

While speaking at the Firstmonie Agent Banking National Award ceremony, held in Lagos, Adeduntan said the firstmonie agent network is a channel through which the bank expresses its unalloyed commitment and passion to promote opportunities of financial services for every Nigerian , especially within the low-income segment.

He said: “The initiative has witnessed several changes in the operating structure and value proposition of FirstBank. In December 2017, the bank ran a pilot test with over 400,000 transactions processed and following the success of the first run, it re-launched in 2018.”

According to Adeduntan, through Firstmonie, the bank has remained at the forefront of driving nation-wide inclusion, given our belief that access to financial services is part of lifting people out of poverty and fostering collective national economic development.

Adeduntan said: “The key strengthen of the bank’s services is to look at the gaps in the society and develop products and services that address the gap. As an integral part of our strategy, we believe in working with the CBN to improve financial inclusion index of the country. We would, at FirstBank, assist Nigeria to address poverty and hunger, thereby promoting security of life and property. Because when people are gainfully employed, the implication is that they will think less of crime,” he said.

Banking with Technology

Banking and technology are becoming inseparable. FirstBank under Adeduntan is driving growth and customer services with technology. The 2019 Financial Technology (Fintech) Summit organised by the bank was an opportunity for the bank to emphasise the need for technology in e-business, digital offering, agent banking, wholesale/ transaction banking, retail/consumer lending and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) productivity.

He noted that as a Tier-1 lender, which celebrated its 125th anniversary last March, the bank had been able to maintain its leadership position in the industry by leveraging technology to offer innovative solutions through its product offerings.

According to him, the theme of the summit, “Banking + Tech = Solving Real Problems,” reflects the reality that technology can be applied to add value in all spheres of life. He pointed out that despite the remarkable progress recorded by Nigerian banks through the use technology, there is still a lot to be done in that regard.
Adeduntan said FirstBank remained committed to putting its customers first with excellent financial services and devising new ways of effectively meeting customers’ financial needs.

“Customer experience and innovation are key in our approach to satisfying our customers. As a leading banking services solutions provider, FirstBank has continued to set the pace in the financial services industry, coming up with new initiatives to provide financial products and services with greater speed, accountability and efficiency. Evidently, Financial technology is causing positive disruption in the financial services industry. The impact of technology in lifestyle business and other areas of today’s customer is huge. We are therefore following global trends in collaborating with Fintechs and other big technology companies on several transformational initiatives to be able to satisfy our customers’ needs,” Adeduntan stated.

Cash-less banking milestones/ Youth Empowerment

FirstBank is also under the current leadership, taking advantage of the opportunities created by cash-less banking to innovate and give value to customers. The bank has introduced the Visa Multi Currency Card, an All-in One-Card and first of its kind to be offered by any financial institution in Nigeria. This card can be linked to four currencies: Naira, United States dollar, Euro and British Pounds Sterling accounts.
With the Visa Multi-Currency card, FirstBank customers – within and outside Nigeria – can now enjoy the luxury of having their local and foreign denominated accounts in any currency, linked to a single debit card. The Visa Multi-Currency Card is designed to ease the daily cashless transactional needs of customers regardless of where they are across the world.

The bank is also taking its financial inclusion and youth empowerment drives to institutions of higher learning, targeting the students in financial institutions in its XploreFirst Savings Account campaign.

In alignment with its financial inclusion drive, FirstBank has completed a campaign for rewarding its youth segment customers for using their FirstBank’s XploreFirst Savings accounts and encouraging healthy savings. The promo, which kicked off last October 1 ended on March 30, this year.

XploreFirst account was designed for students between 18 and 29. A minimum amount of N1,000 is required to open the account and account holders are to maintain a balance of N200.
FirstBank recognises the impact of a healthy savings culture in promoting financial inclusion among individuals, especially the youth. And with the saying, the youth are the leaders of tomorrow, we believe that with XploreFirst account, the youth are well positioned to take the lead in their financial activities through the exciting benefits the account offers.

Industry Position

Adeduntan said despite the regulatory headwinds and business shocks, FirstBank’s fundamentals have remained very strong with the group’s asset quality.

He said the bank has under his leadership, focused on loan and remedial management, voluntary reduction of Single Obligor Limit (SOL) and increased board oversight by significantly raising the bars of credit approvals through the Board Credit Committee to remain viable despite the daunting business environment.

Adeduntan said the lender has over the years built an enduring brand that is immediately recognisable as dynamic, dependable, lasting and innovative.

“And we have completed millions of transactions, received billions of deposits and given out trillions of loans and advances- that’s what makes us a bank. But it’s the smiles, the laughs, the handshakes and the spontaneous hugs from the satisfied customers that keep us going and make us part of the community we serve and a member of the world we live in,” he stated in a statement to mark the bank’s 125 years of operation.

Adeduntan said: “Our heritage as the nation’s foremost and largest developmental financial institution is apparent in the Group’s contributions to economic growth and development. Our developmental philosophy is reflected in our business policy and is self-evident in the composition of our loan book as diversified in the nation’s major economic development sectors. These include agriculture, manufacturing, oil & gas, services and public sector, among others.

“As a firm believer in the brand Nigeria and a pioneer in national development, we took a patriotic bet on the country in 2015, consistent with our century-long commitment to nation building as a fundamental pillar of sustainable business development. As at the time we took the measured risks, in line with business realities, it was universally acknowledged as bold business moves as well as a private institution’s obligation to support focused national development.”

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Keystone Bank: Promoting workplace culture, engagement, productivity

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By Ezra Adeniyi

The greatest assets of any burgeoning organization should be its workforce and inter-relationship between the employee and the employer. That explains why most corporate bodies must place maximum premium on workplace culture and employee engagement.

Its impact cannot be overemphasized as far as staff productivity is concerned. Unfortunately, this has remained a constant challenge for most organizations as staff attrition rate continues to skyrocket due to several reasons. The feeling of not being recognized or appreciated, non-collaborative work culture, non-accessibility to senior or executive management are the immediate attributes.

Keystone Bank, however, is placing a premium on improving workplace culture towards making her employees happy and

productive. In the past one year the bank has launched several internal initiatives to enhance staff welfare to keep staff engaged together with an open-door approach to have every voice heard.

One of such noble initiatives launched late 2019 was the Keystone Bank Interdivisional games, designed to foster team collaboration and relieve workplace stress. The event which was held on Saturday November 23rd, 2019 was a huge success that witnessed a turnout of staff along with friends and family members who were treated to a whole day of fun, laughter and bonding.

The initiative is part of the lender’s commitment to promoting fitness, healthy living, fostering effective and healthy workplace collaboration amongst its staff and their family members.

More excitingly, beyond the financial rewards that were given to the winners at the games, executive management hosted the staff winners to an exquisite dinner out on Wednesday, December 11th, 2019 to celebrate with them. All members of executive management of Keystone Bank were present at the dinner to congratulate with the winners, chat, commend and to spur the staff participants to keep being involved in such activities which impact on the overall well-being of the organization. The staff winners in attendance were elated about the gesture from the management which indeed boosted their morale to do more.

In a brief chat with the executive director, Adeyemi Odusanya, he said, “We place a huge premium on our staff at Keystone Bank, we understand that employees are the engine room required in making any organization work and if they are not treated right it’s to the disadvantage of all. Our customers also deserve the best, hence we believe that when our employees are treated right, they will always be in their best shape to keep delivering a superior customer experience.

“Time-out with employees, dinner out with management amongst others is fast becoming our culture at Keystone Bank and we will keep exploring other programmes to the advantage of our employees,”.

 – Adeniyi, a financial analyst, wrote from Lagos, Nigeria.

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Hollandia Yoghurt Unveils New Partnership with Yemi Alade

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Hollandia Yoghurt, Nigeria’s leading drinking yoghurt beverage brand, has announced a partnership agreement with Miss Yemi Alade, a multiple award-winning artiste of international repute, as part of a new campaign to celebrate the brand’s 15 years of nourishing Nigerians and reinforcing its market leadership.

The partnership aims to celebrate the values of consistency, hard work and talent which the brand and the artiste have in common. Hollandia Yoghurt is the leader of the yoghurt category, a position it attained through innovation and continuous passion for excellence. Similarly, Miss Yemi Alade has continuously innovated herself and has risen to the top of her music career with various awardwinning hits.

Since it was introduced into the Nigerian market over 15 years ago, Hollandia Yoghurt has transformed the Yoghurt market landscape with its high quality products, packed under very hygienic conditions. To address varying consumer needs Hollandia Yoghurt has remained consistent in providing healthy, tasty, and nourishing yoghurt drink that contain proteins, minerals and vitamins that unlocks the energy in its consumers.

Every day, Nigerians enjoy Hollandia Yoghurt because its nourishing goodness give them energy, serve as meal-replacement and keep them positively recharged to be at their best. Whether onthe-go, at work, in school or at play, Nigerians trust the brand to nourish their body and keep them active. Therefore, it is no wonder that the brand has achieved the feat of becoming the most preferred and generic name for drinking yoghurt amongst consumers.

Speaking on the partnership, Yemi Alade said, “I am really excited about this partnership with Hollandia Yoghurt because the brand stands out differently from all other drinking yoghurt products. Like me, Hollandia Yoghurt displays an insatiable quest for increased creativity and innovation. I love the delicious taste and revitalizing energy of Hollandia Yoghurt.”

Speaking on this new partnership, Marketing Director of CHI Ltd, Mrs. Toyin Nnodi, says, “In our quest to find a brand ambassador for the Hollandia Yoghurt brand, we have taken a strategic decision to appoint Miss Yemi Alade as our brand partner. We are happy and excited about this new relationship and we are confident that this will be a mutually beneficial relationship for both parties.”

Mr. Deepanjan Roy, Managing Director of CHI Limited, said “Hollandia Yoghurt has provided satisfying nourishment for Nigerians for the last 15 years and would continue to demonstrate leadership in the drinking yoghurt category in the years ahead. We have set the pace for the drinking yoghurt category through the years, and through this partnership we look forward to working with Yemi Alade on a number of different projects to bring the beloved brand even closer to Nigerians”.

Hollandia Yoghurt is made from high quality ingredients. It is available in two variants of Plain Sweetened and Strawberry, and comes in 1Litre, 500ml, 315ml, 180ml and 100ml pack sizes.

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Alleged $2bn revenue indebtedness: Malami withdraws charges against MTN

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MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, on Friday, said its case with the Federal Government over alleged revenue indebtedness of N242.24 billion and $1.28 billion had been withdrawn.

MTN Nigeria stated this in a regulatory filing to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) signed by its Company Secretary, Uto Ukpanah.

The company said its legal counsel received a letter from the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (rtd), which formally withdrew the government’s demand for the funds.

“MTN Nigeria is pleased to report that its legal counsel has received a letter dated January 8 2020 from the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (the AGF) formally withdrawing the demand for N242,244,452,215.97 and $1.283,610,357.86 alleged revenue indebtedness,” the company said in a statement.

It said the letter confirmed that the AGF had referred the matter to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) with a view to resolving the contentious issues.

“MTN Nigeria will consequently follow due court process to withdraw its legal action against the AGF and engage with the FIRS and NCS on the issues.

“MTN Nigeria remains committed to conducting its business in accordance with applicable laws in Nigeria,” it said.

The statement quoted Mr Ferdi Moolman, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, as saying that the company was pleased with the decision of the  AGF.

“We are very pleased with the decision of the AGF and we commend him for his wisdom.

“We maintain our dedication to building and maintaining cordial relationships with all regulatory authorities in Nigeria.

“And we remain fully committed to meeting our fiscal responsibilities and contributions to the social and economic development of Nigeria,” Moolman stated.

The Lagos Division of the Federal High Court adjourned the suit filed against Nigeria by MTN over the disputed claims of tax evasion to January 30 and 31.

The telecoms firm had filed the suit against the government, following the demand by the AGF that MTN should pay the tax bill relating to the import of equipment and payments to foreign suppliers from 2007 to 2017.

The plaintiff was seeking among other declaratory reliefs, a declaration that the AGF’s demand of the sums of N242.24 billion and $1.28 billion from MTN was premised on a process which was malicious, unreasonable and made on an incorrect legal basis.

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