When is a bank not a bank? That is a question Segun Agbaje, the multiple award-winning CEO and Managing Director of Nigeria’s Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) has been getting to grips with as he forges a new path for banking in Africa.
Agbaje was always destined to become a banker, it seems, although he took a circuitous route. Initially, he quali?ed as an accountant and practised in the US before tiring of auditing and returning to Nigeria to follow his father’s footsteps into banking. There, in 1991, he joined an exciting new venture, the Guaranty Trust Bank, founded by a group of young Nigerians the previous year.
As he worked his way up through positions of increasing responsibility, several events in which Agbaje played a leading role shaped his thinking about GTBank’s future: the initial public o?ering in 2004, listing on the Lagos stock exchange; entering the international capital markets with a Eurobond issue and listing on the London Stock Exchange in 2007.
“Those transactions exposed me to the international ?nancial markets and the people who worked in them – merchant banks, investment bankers, lawyers, investors,” he says. “It gave me a better understanding of what people wanted from a ?rst-class bank and best-in-class practices. It also encouraged me to think about the bank as an international institution, rather than just a Nigerian institution, and what it took to compete in the global economy.”
Agbaje became CEO of GTBank in 2011 and won the coveted African Banker of the Year award the next year. The award recognises ?nancial industry leaders throughout Africa who have exercised “good vision and leadership” in guiding their organisation to strong ?nancial performance, as well as having contributed to the impact of Africa’s ?nancial services industry internationally.
During his tenure as CEO, the bank and Agbaje have won numerous awards. What is particularly interesting is the trend in types of award since GTBank has been under Agbaje’s leadership. Awards for ?nancial performance have been joined by Innovative Bank awards, Best Mobile Banking and Mobile Money awards, Best Digital Bank awards and, most recently, Digital Wallet of the Year award.
‘I’m not sure that, if we removed the word “bank” in five years, we would be losing anything. We might actually even be gaining something’
This trend re?ects Agbaje’s pioneering attitude towards digital transformation and the role of banking. Traditional bankers might think his view of the bank’s future a radical departure from mainstream banking, but for Agbaje it is change that has to happen: “Banks are going to become platforms, so we will become a trusted single, integrated platform,” he says. “Because the competition for banks has changed, where it was once other banks, now it is ?ntechs, telcos, Apple Pay, PayPal, payday-loan companies, salary-advance companies, even co?ee shops. Any bank that stays with the traditional banking model is going to get smaller and smaller. All these other companies will be taking part of your share of business.”
If some of the digital giants, like Google and Apple, start to develop banking services, the word ‘bank’ could soon be associated with ine?ciency and a lack of innovation, he adds. “I’m not sure that, if we removed the word ‘bank’ in ?ve years, we would be losing anything. We might actually even be gaining something.”
While there may be a lot of disruption in the banking sector, Agbaje has a head start on many traditional banks. For example, the bank launched its Habari mobile platform in November 2018: “What we’re trying to create is something where, when you come to the bank, however you do that, you are not just coming to pay and receive,” he says. “You can come into our ecosystem and do just about everything – pay for tickets, book holidays, stream music, buy online, watch videos, and then, because we are a bank, we can provide the payment engine.”
The reputation of bankers and banking took a knock following the global ?nancial crisis and Agbaje is well aware of the challenge banks face in terms of their relationship with the societies they serve. “A banking licence is a privilege, given to you by the regulator. Banks owe a social responsibility to the communities within which they operate,” he says. “Just as we monitor pro?ts, costs and return on equity, we must also monitor how much we give back in terms of social responsibility.”
This is not just talk. The bank interacts with the community in many ways, from football education programmes and tournaments to its internationally renowned annual conference on autism (now in its ninth year); from its You Read Initiative aimed at promoting a culture of reading to the Social Impact Challenge designed to unearth ideas that can enrich the lives of local communities.
Many of the bank’s CSR initiatives are aimed at community development, promoting entrepreneurs and small businesses. For example, there is the GTCrea8 Convention aimed at helping undergraduates “build successful businesses out of their passion”. The bank is also building shared service facilities for businesses in the food and fashion sectors, so that these small businesses can bene?t from the economies of scale enjoyed by large companies without the overheads.
The initiatives re?ect Agbaje’s passionate belief in Africa’s economic potential: “It is a continent that I am completely bullish about, because I don’t think there are many places in the world that have both the natural resources, the human population, the distribution of millennials; who are just incredible people. If you are able to tap into and unleash that human capital potential it is a continent that has a huge growth upside,” he says.
“What we have in Africa is a leadership problem. There are pockets, organisations, where the leadership is good. Those organisations function the way you would in a developed economy. If you start to get people with a track record of achievement running things – whether that is in countries, governments, parastatals – they will bring that excellence and achievement to government and Africa will start to change.”
He is just the leadership role model that the younger generation needs. “My values are simple ones. I believe in hard work, humility, integrity, discipline. Those are the things that drive me,” he says. “If you have those values, show them, inculcate them into all the decisions that you make and you will be ?ne.”
He has naturally given some thought to what he might do after his time at GTBank: “Maybe I will get another platform to do something in the private sector. It could be in a completely di?erent sector to banking. My ?rst choice would be an Africa-focused organisation. A second option would be something, if not solely focused on Africa, with an emerging market emphasis.”
He would also be interested, he says, in mentoring young people with small businesses; helping them to think about organisational structure and governance, for example.
But for now, with two-and-a-half years left on his contract, he is fully focused on the transformation underway at GTBank. “I’m not ?nished,” he says. “We are trying to build a great African institution; putting the bank in the position I think it should be in – not just ?nancially, but socially, being a well-run enterprise.”
Agbaje is not someone to trumpet his achievements, but if his vision for the future of one of Africa’s largest and most important banks comes to fruition, more plaudits are likely to be heading his way.
Mouka bags African Brand Leadership Merit Award
Mouka, Nigeria’s leading foam and bedding products manufacturer has emerged Africa’s Leading World Class Premium Bedding/ Mattress/ Pillows Product Company of the Year at the 2019 edition of the African Brand Leadership Merit Awards.
Mouka was declared Africa’s Leading World Class Premium Bedding/Mattress/ Pillows Product Company of the Year after a technical committee research report showed that Mouka was outstanding in the Premium Bedding/Mattress/ Pillows Product category.
The award was presented to Mouka on Friday, August 23, 2019 in Lagos. It was received by Femi Fapohunda, a director at Mouka Limited and Jide Odelola, Mouka’s senior brand and innovation manager.
Reacting to the gesture, the Chief Executive Officer of the foam and mattress company, Raymond Murphy, said Mouka is a brand synonymous with unparalleled quality adding that the award confirms the brand’s dedication and commitment to providing consumers with the best quality products.
“I think this is in recognition of all of the hard work that our marketing team has done over the last few years to develop the Mouka brand into such a strong leadership and very visible position. And quality underpins everything we do within the company. In our manufacturing facilities, our Research and Development facilities, our Quality Control departments, there’s one word that comes through;and that is passion.
“And we are absolutely passionate about everything we do to make sure that as products leave the Mouka factories around the country, that we’re guaranteed that every single product is of first class quality,” Mouka’s chief executive said.
For his part, Fapohunda said : “ Mouka is an heritage brand, quality is our heritage, and we’re showing it to the world.”
The African Brand Leadership Merit Awards constitute an initiative of the African Brand Congress (ABC).
According to a statement by the Congress, the African Brand Congress is an annual fiesta of best brains behind most successful and sought after African brands.
“The Congress is designed to educate, engage and inspire Brand managers and professional in the pursuit of best practice in brand building and value creation. It is an appropriate platform for all Brand owner and industry players to discuss how Brands in Africa can increase their Global Competitiveness. It meant to share knowledge, ideas and challenges by industry icons”, the statement reads.
This award reaffirms Mouka’s dominance in Nigeria’s foam and bedding industry.
Transact Without Borders With The Firstbank Verve Global Card
First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial services provider, has announced the launch of the Verve Global Card. In partnership with Verve International (Interswitch Group) and Discover Financial Services, the launch took place at Times Square New York City on Monday, 12 August 2019.
In attendance at the event were FirstBank’s Deputy Managing Director, Gbenga Shobo; Group Executive, eBusiness & Retail Products, Chuma Ezirim; Head, Card & Messaging Business, Folasade Femi-Lawal and Interswitch Group’s Founder/GMD, Mitchell Elegbe and Divisional CEO, Verve, Mike Ogbalu. Discover Financial Services’ Senior Vice President, Payment Services, Joseph Hurley and Executive Vice President, Payment Services, Diane Offereins, amongst others were also in attendance.
The Verve Global Card, an introduction by Verve International to FirstBank, is a new entry to the array of card products offered by FirstBank to its customers. The FirstBank Verve Global Card is an enhancement to the existing Verve Debit card with exclusive capacity for domestic and cross border transactions across all channels. The card can be linked to Savings & Current accounts, with a “Safetoken” extra protection for web-based transactions.
Speaking on the launch, Deputy Managing Director, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Gbenga Shobo said, “in partnership with Verve International, we are pleased to launch the Verve Global Card as it reinforces our commitment to putting our customers first with innovative and state of the art financial products and services that promote seamless transactions regardless of where they are across the globe.”
“I enjoin every FirstBank customer and the general public to visit the nearest FirstBank branch and request for the card to enjoy seamless cashless transactions” he concluded.
The first transaction of the Verve Global Card was carried-out by the Deputy Managing Director, FirstBank, Gbenga Shobo at Swarovski Shop located on Times Square.
Mark Angel Gets His Own Mouka Flora Mattress
Mark Angel best known for the Mark Angel Comedy series, often featuring his child comedian niece, Emmanuella, just received the new Mouka Flora mattress.
In the viral comedy skit called MANCHELOR Part 2, Mark Angel falls in love with the new Mouka Flora mattress while Emmaneulla and his neighbours urge him to get married “Now that Emmanuella has bought you mattress, Oya go and marry. Have you not old? You have passed menopause, very soon you will reach menostop”.
The new Mouka Flora mattress is redesigned to offer exceptional comfort and provide consumers with quality sleep. According to Mouka’s Senior Brand and Innovation Manager, Jide Odelola says “Nigerians can now enjoy superior comfort and durability of the new Mouka Flora mattress to ensure they wake up feeling energized the next morning.”
Mouka is reputed in the industry for its world class manufacturing technology. Other brands within Mouka’s portfolio include: Mondeo Spring mattress, Dreamtime water resistant children mattress, Regal Orthopaedic mattress, Regina semi-orthopaedic mattress and Mouka Mozzi range of insect repellent products.
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