By Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma
For a financial institution of FirsBank’s pedigree, it is not uncommon for its top managers to be creative and constantly innovative.
Indeed, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer of FirstBank, attributes the Bank’s consistent growth in the past 125 years to innovation and reinvention of its products and services aimed at satisfying customers’ needs and aspirations.
An elated Adeduntan recently said the Bank was driven by the desire to put its customers and stakeholders at the heart of its business.
“For over 125 years of our existence, we have focused on providing excellent financial services to meet the needs of our esteemed customers.
“We continue to improve on our products and also create new ones that suit their specific financial needs.
“The reason why we have been successful is our ability to invent and reinvent ourselves. You can only be successful like that when you put your customer at the centre piece of all your actions. That is the secret of our success,” said Adeduntan.
According to him, the Bank leverages Information Technology (IT) infrastructure to improve overall service delivery levels across all key infrastructure parameters: speed, performance, availability, security and scalability.
“This will enable us to deliver great customer experiences, take advantage of new digital technologies to reduce costs, improve quality, ensure transparency, and create value. We are building the next-generation digital bank.
“It is in our DNA to continuously transform and project for the future by reinventing ourselves, re-engineering and creating value for our customers by rethinking next generation solutions ahead of our peers in the industry.
“We are positioned to always put our customers’ current and future needs at the core of our business,” Adeduntan stated emphatically.
He noted that the Bank was also transforming the way it communicated and executed its corporate strategy through rethinking the approach to implementing projects, collaborating, measuring the outcomes and realising value from all of its transformation investments.
“The transformation programme is ongoing, and a lot of employees are already fully involved at various levels, leading and contributing to these transformation initiatives,” Adeduntan added.
He highlighted some of the laudable achievements of the Bank to include the first bank to launch the cash deposit ATM in Nigeria in 2011, the second bank in Africa and the first in Nigeria to issue 10 million cards.
Adeduntan said the Bank was also recognised by Interswitch as the first financial institution in Nigeria to achieve 100 million sustained monthly transactions in electronic payment in December 2015 and in May 2016, respectively.
He explained that the Bank, in line with its financial banking drive, instituted agent banking with over 27,000 agencies – so far achieved – across the country to reach the unbanked.
According to him, the Bank in 2008, was the first Nigerian bank and first quoted company in the country to hit two trillion naira market capitalisation.
Mr. Chuma Ezirim, FirstBank’s Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products, said, during the Bank’s launch of Chat Banking on WhatsApp recently, FirstBank would continue to offer endearing services to its customers.
To him, creativity and innovation are not new to FirstBank, and the twin virtue has fueled the Bank’s foray abroad.
He said in furtherance with the Bank’s innovation drive, it acquired a new subsidiary, Banque International de Credit (BIC), one of the leading banks in the Democratic Republic of Congo in October 2011.
Similarly, in November 2013, it acquired ICB in The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Guinea, and in 2014, the Bank added ICB in Senegal to its prized acquisitions.
The Bank, which changed its name from BBWA to Bank of West Africa (BWA) in 1957 also adopted the name, Standard Bank of West Africa in 1966, following its merger with Standard Bank, United Kingdom.
Incorporated in 1969 as Standard Bank of Nigeria Limited, the first name change occurred in 1979 and again in 1991 to First Bank of Nigeria Limited and First Bank of Nigeria Plc, respectively.
In 2012, the Bank changed its name again to First Bank of Nigeria Limited as part of a restructuring resulting in FBN Holdings Plc, having detached its commercial business from other businesses in the FirstBank Group, in compliance with the new regulation by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
As the global operating environment evolves, FirstBank has kept pace, responding to the dynamic needs of its customers, investors, regulators, host communities, employees and other stakeholders.
Through a balanced approach to plan execution, FirstBank has consolidated its industry leadership by maintaining a trans-generational appeal.
Thus, the Bank has continuously boosted its customer base, which cuts across all segments in terms of size, structure and sectors.
Leveraging experience spanning over a century of dependable and appealing services, FirstBank has continued to build relationships and alliances with key sectors of the economy that have served as strategic building blocks for the well-being, growth and development of the country.