COMFORT EKELEME, Asst Business Editor
Success, like money has no colour. It has never been an orphan. Success has always been celebrated in such a manner that it begets both loyalty and followership. This is the story of Fidelity Bank Plc, one of Nigeria’s finest and purpose driven bank which fountain of financial prudence has benefited many institutions, government agencies and private individuals.
Corporate organizations are known to have life circles. The difference perhaps, is that while many have longer gestation periods, there are some which are known to have become profitable ventures within a short period of time due mainly to the efficiency of their systems and competence of their managers.
Fidelity Bank Plc is one of the very few commercial banks in Nigeria which pride itself as an effective and efficient financial institution where every stakeholder has reasons to associate with it.
Since its inception in 1988 as a merchant bank, Fidelity Bank has structured its operations and services in a manner that projects it as a customer responsive financial institution. Not known to be unduly loud and out of standard, Fidelity bank has at every of its transformational stage put its customers first. No wonder that the bank appears to be among those banks which enjoy the highest customer loyalty in the comity of first grade banks.
Quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Fidelity Bank Plc’s growth trajectory has seen it transforming from a merchant bank in 1988 to a commercial bank by 1999 before converting to a universal bank in February 2001. The current enlarged Fidelity Bank is a result of the merger with the former FSB International Bank Plc and Manny Bank Plc in 2005.
Ranked amongst the top 10 in the Nigerian banking industry, Fidelity Bank has presence in the major cities and commercial centers in Nigeria and has correspondent banking, confirmation lines, credit and other relationships with a network of off-shore financial institutions including ANZ London; AFREXIM BANK, Cairo, Egypt; ABSA, South Africa; Citibank N.A., London and New York; FBN Bank Limited, UK; SCB, London; US EX-IM Bank; and United States Agency for International Development.
Cheeringly enough, the recent decision of Fidelity Bank Plc to leverage on new growth models and improved customer service through digitization of its operations to grow value for stakeholders has continued to attract investors’ commendation as the shareholders foresee a bumper harvest at the 2019 financial year.
Fidelity Bank had at its 2018 Annual General Meeting (AGM), assured its shareholders that they would reap greater return in this 2019 financial year, following the decision to sustain investment in digital innovations, which the bank said will engender enhanced customer service delivery, and open fresh streams of revenue.
The vision of the bank is to be number one in every market it serve and for every branded product if offers.
All over the world, it is believed that one of the main benefits of good customer service is that it persuades people to do business with a company more than once.
Interestingly, one of the advantages of good customer service is that it creates personal connections with the target audience, at the same time boosts company’s reputation.
Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Bank, Nnamdi Okonkwo, had at the bank’s 31st AGM in Lagos maintained that the bank will not relent on its efforts to increase the adoption and migration of customers to its digital banking platform.
This, the bank’s shareholders maintained will translate to good dividend yield at the end of the 2019 financial year if properly implemented, urging the bank to be mindful of other policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)that may mare the promises.
Speaking with Daily Champion, National Coordinator, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria (PSAN), Boniface Okezie noted that there is nothing wrong in making projections but urged the bank to be mindful of policies from the regulators.
“The bank must also be mindful of other polices of CBN that may mare the promises, this includes the issue of recapitalization, if that happened and you make a huge profits, they may not like to pay all out in the mist of mounting recapitalization touted by the regulator. So let the bank be careful on some of promises they might have been making so as to achieve the desired aim at the end of the day. There is nothing wrong for one to be hopeful and make projections all of.
“Well they are fidelity, they keep to their word, so we hold them to the promise they have made ,and look forth to that day, come next year shareholders are expecting higher dividends as against the lower dividend the bank paid in 2018 finacial year. We all known that 2018 was indeed bad year for business in Nigeria because the economy was in bad shape, let’s hope and believe that 2019 will offer a better hope ,and that will depends on what government is doing to revive the battered economy and improve the lives of ordinary Nigerians.
Shareholder Activist and Co-Founder Nigeria Shareholders Solidarity Association (NSSA), Alhaji Gbadebo Olatokunbo maintained that as a shareholder of the bank, the value to him is good dividend payment, which he has been denied for some time now, adding that the decision is a welcomed development.
“I welcome any good news from the bank that would translate to good dividend. Good dividend is important to me, while I hope that the enhanced shareholders value through digitalization promise shall reflect in our return on investment at the end of the 2019 financial year.
Nnamdi Okonkwo had stated that with 25 per cent of the bank’s fee-based income coming from digital banking, the bank is introducing a digital lending solution and AI-Chatbots to spur further growth in the industry verticals, where it currently operates.
He said, “We are investing heavily in digital technologies to drive our retail strategy, reduce cost, and consequently improve revenue and returns for our shareholders. Fidelity Bank is on track towards breaking in to the league of Tier 1 bank by 2022.
“The 2018 financial year marked the beginning of the second phase of the growth aspirations of your Bank, and I am happy, we closed the year impressively”, he stated.
“As part of our commitment to providing accessible and convenient banking services to our esteemed customers, we expanded our product offerings in fleet management by leveraging our investments in technology to provide Self Service Motor Vehicle Renewal through our Fleet Manager Solution.
Speaking further he said, “This unique feature on our internet banking platform allows customers to initiate and pay for the renewal of their vehicle licenses from the comfort of their homes and offices. We have successfully concluded the pilot run with Benue State Government, with plans for full launch by June 2019. Anchored on an enduring partnership with agents of the Federal Government at various levels, the implementation of Treasury Single Account (TSA) got a boost from your bank with the deployment of specially configured Point of Sales (POSes) for TSA collections.
“We worked with a Fintech Company to re-configure the dedicated POS machines for payment and remittance of TSA collections directly to the Federal Government purse. The uniqueness and ease of using the machines have made them suitable for TSA collections in under-banked communities.
We will remain focused on the execution of our medium term strategic objectives and targets for the 2019 financial year while we look forward to sustaining the momentum and delivering another strong set of results in the next financial year.
The Fidelity Bank boss, however maintained that the activities of the bank have continued to be recognized by associations and operators in the MSME sub-sector, adding that at the 37th Annual General Conference, the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) recognized the bank with awards for being the first and only Bank in Nigeria to develop a bespoke loan product for community pharmacists in Nigeria.
“The BusinessDay in partnership with BOSSMAN also gave your Bank an Award in recognition of its support of the BusinessDay Top 100 Fastest Growing SMEs in Nigeria in 2018. In addition, the Association of Small Business Owners of Nigeria (ASBON) in collaboration with Small Business Club also recognized your Bank as the SME Friendliest Bank of the Year 2018. The Award was given to your Bank during the 2nd edition of the Nigeria SME National Business Awards 2018.
Chairman of the Bank, Ernest Ebi had said the bank has embarked on a robust digital transformation journey that has witnessed the implementation of some digital initiatives including the set-up of a digital lab and introduction of various digital lending products.
According to him, plans are on the way for the establishment of a sub-brand that will operate primarily via these digital platforms.
“Without prejudice to events in the macro environment, in the coming year, we as an institution will focus solely on the execution of our medium term strategy; we will drive innovation through continual process improvement, cutting edge technology, product differentiation and improved service delivery.
“Our staff are our greatest assets; we will continue to invest in the development of our human capital by sustaining our policy on attracting and retaining the best talents. I have every confidence that we will achieve our performance targets for 2019 and beyond,” he maintained.
The bank’s gross earnings increased by 4.8 per cent to close at N188.9 billion in 2018, driven primarily by 22.7 per cent growth in earning assets while total deposit, increased by 26.3 per cent to N979.4 billion from N775.3 billion, just as current and domiciliary accounts grew in double digit.
Also, profit before tax soared by 30.6 per cent to N25.1 billion, when compared with the 19.2 billion recorded in 2017. Similarly profit after tax increased by 29.0 per cent to N22.9 billion from N17.8 billion in 2017.
Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged commercial bank operating in Nigeria, with over 4.2 million customers who are serviced across its 231 business and various other digital banking channels.
Focused on select niche corporate banking sectors as well as Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), Fidelity Bank is rapidly implementing a digital based retail banking strategy which has resulted in exponential growth in savings deposits over the last three years, with 40 per cent customer enrollment on the Bank’s flagship mobile/internet banking products.
Fidelity Bank is reputed for integrity and professionalism. It is also respected for the quality and stability of its Executive Management team that is focused on building and maintaining a virile and widely accepted brand to cater to the needs of its growing retail, corporate, commercial and consumer banking clientele.
The Bank recently won accolades as the Best SME Friendly Bank, Best in Mobile Banking and the Most Improved Corporate/Investment Bank among several industry awards and recognitions. The Bank was also ranked the 4th Best Bank in the Retail Banking Segment in the 2017 Banking Industry Satisfaction Survey conducted by KPMG.
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