ACCESS Bank Plc is shifting its focus to the Small and Medium Enterprise, SME, sector. It targets to reach about one million mobile phone customers in the next 12 months. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, group managing director, said that the aim was to highlight the bank’s commitment to economic empowerment of individuals and growing entrepreneurs.
Aig-imokhuede pointed out that the bank has identified 13 critical segments of the economy which are already benefiting from its empowerment programme. The bank, he said, has created a full division (Business Banking) to support the needs of the SME sector in Nigeria. He noted that the basic driver of the industry’s defining initiatives had also been identified and “is set for implementation of about 200 different initiatives that will change the face of banking in Nigeria.”
He said that the initiatives would be rolled out one-after-the other from this week which, amongst them, is the bank’s planned multi-channel banking platform initiative and a host of others. He said that the bank would also be laying emphasis on the pioneering role in sustainability and public advocacy with the adoption of sustainable banking principles in Nigeria and beyond.
Aig-Imokhuede said the bank led in the adoption of International Finance Reporting Standard, IFRS, in Nigeria. “We are leading in the drive for lending to Nigeria’s real sector. The bank is in pursuit of health-focused Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, and also building capacity in public sector for effective public policy outcomes,” he said, pointed out that the bank was also leading Nigeria in corporate banking with significant retail growth potentials of 87 percent profit in Nigeria and 13 percent in other branches in parts of Africa.
“We want Access Bank to be seen as a tier one, customer focused bank which is already the second largest customer base with 6.5 million customers. We are going to launch a solution that will allow youths to have a company, if say, for example, you want to link all the balances with all your accounts, say 10 bank accounts, in those banks, people are paying money, for say, sale of newspapers and everyday you want to leave a balance of only N1 million in those bank accounts, you can move any amount over N1 million to your major account.”
CBN Won’t Devalue the Naira
THE Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, will resist pressures to devalue the naira since it retains ample funds to defend the currency. Ugochukwu Okoroafor, CBN spokesperson, said the apex bank governor was expected to steer this course until his term is up in 10 months. He said the institution remained committed to the band. “We have the resources to meet demand. We are still determined to keep within that band,” he said.
Kingsley Moghalu, CBN deputy governor, also said there were no plans to change the band. He said that the apex bank was comfortable with the band as it is currently and had no intention of doing anything spectacular. “We believe that the probability of moving the trading band is slim in the coming months,” he said.
The bank tightened liquidity significantly in July, slapping a 50 percent reserve requirement on public sector deposits, up from 12 percent previously. That sucked 1 trillion naira out of the banking system and although the effect on the naira was short-lived, it showed the lengths to which the bank would go.
But a similar naira weakness, partly caused by excessive spending prior to 2011 national elections, forced the Central Bank to lower the target band from 145-155 naira to the dollar in November that year, after months of struggling to prop it up. Pressure on the currency will worsen next year as elections loom again in 2015 traditionally at a time when government expenditure becomes very loose, pumping excess liquidity into the banking system. The unit has hovered around the 162-163 level in recent months, on strong demand for dollars. It touched a 20-month low of 163.70 naira to the dollar last week.
The naira has fallen in recent months, trading outside the CBN’s target band of 150-160 naira to the U.S. dollar since June, initially due to foreign investors booking profits on their naira assets, and on importers buying dollars.
The Darling of Retirees
STANBIC IBTC Pension Managers, a member of Stanbic IBTC Holdings, has paid N178 billion to retirees in the last eight years. The firm pays about N1.7 billion to over 28,000 retirees monthly since it started operations in 2005. Demola Sogunle, chief executive officer, Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers, made this known at the launch of Stanbic IBTC Pension mobile office in Lagos. He said the new product was in line with its commitment to ensuring excellent and convenient service for clients.
Sogunle said that the visibility would demystify pension matters and encourage more Nigerians to subscribe to the contributory pension scheme, thereby enhancing financial inclusion. “We believe that this initiative, which speaks of convenience and accessibility, is one of our key steps to building a legacy of exceptional service delivery where the customer is the focal point of all our activities. This initiative will bring pension service to the doorsteps of our customers and prospective customers alike,” he said.
According to him, there are plans to deploy more mobile offices in various cities across the country, adding the new service window will complement the group’s expanding footprint in Nigeria by adding to the almost 200 branches of Stanbic IBTC Bank, Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers’ nine regional offices, as well as selected branches of Zenith Bank where the Pension Fund Administrator operates.
Sogunle said Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers is backed by the requisite expertise and experience, strong and sound financial clout, ensuring efficiency in the management and safety of clients’ retirement savings. “We believe that the support, experience and capabilities of the Standard Bank Group to which we belong, have been instrumental in enhancing our expertise, resource base and general service delivery, thus reinforcing our goal of providing excellent service to all our customers.”
Internal Inquiry on ETI
IN a determined effort, to clear its name of allegations of manipulation of its 2012 account results, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, ETI, PLC, said it will forego a controversial $1.14m bonus for 2012 and launch an internal inquiry into the allegations. The bank’s governance committee said that it would invite Laurence do Rego, suspended executive director for finance and risk, to substantiate allegations she made in a letter to Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, last month.
Do Rego, in her letter to SEC, claimed that she was under pressure to write off debts owed by a business chaired by Kolapo Lawson, ETI’s chairman, and to manipulate the 2012 results. She said she resisted these requests, opposed attempts to sell off non-core assets on the cheap, and questioned the manner in which the chief executive’s bonus had been increased. She said this was $935,967 above what it would have been under his contract, for a period when he had not yet been formally confirmed as chief executive. Other senior managers had bonuses cut. She also questioned procedures used to change key performance indicators in Tanoh’s contract.
Thierry Tanoh, chief executive officer, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, denied these allegations but confirmed the increase to his bonus. Tanoh, wrote to staff of Ecobank in an e-mail requesting that he had taken a decision to forgo his bonus for 2012 in its entirety although the review followed due process and was approved by the Governance Committee of the Board. He also added that while the changes in his current contract were implemented in full compliance with the existing policy, he has informed the board that his initial contract be re-instated.
Several Investors and officials connected with the bank doubted that the measures went far enough to allay concerns among leading shareholders on the way the bank was being run. The ETI statements revealed that its results were compiled in accordance with the global reporting standards, adding that it was also endorsed by a reputable auditing company. The ETI, which is headquartered in Togo, will continue to cooperate fully with any of the regulators in its 34 African markets. They have been in the vanguard of African banks expanding across borders and have gained presence in 34 African countries, a solid reputation, and assets worth in excess of $20bn.
Obi Adindu, communications adviser, SEC Nigeria, said that the commission was investigating the ETI over an alleged misstatement of its 2012 performance. He said the regulator had held meetings with Ecobank’s board of directors on August 6 to discuss the issue which was raised by a suspended former head of finance at the bank and added that Ecobank acknowledged that there was an investigation which had no details.
— Sep. 16, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT