Wema Bank’s remarkable survival instinct

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After Mr Segun Oloketuyi took over the management of Wema Bank in 2009, the first phase of his turnaround strategy was to scale down operations to the South West and South South regions. Now in the third phase of the turnaround plan, Wema Bank is stronger and poised for more growth. ODUNEWU SEGUN writes

NIGERIA’S longest surviving indigenous bank, Wema Bank Plc, with an operating network of over 130 branches and service stations backed by a robust ICT platform across the six geopolitical regions, has over the years, diligently offered a fully-fledge range of value-added banking and financial advisory services to Nigerians.

Incorporated in 1945 as a Private Limited Liability Company (under the old name of Agbomagbe Bank Limited) and commencing banking operations in Nigeria the same year, Wema Bank later transformed into a Public Limited Company (PLC) in April 1987 and was listed on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in January 1990. On February 5, 2001, Wema Bank Plc was granted a universal banking licence by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), thus allowing the Bank provide the Nigerian public with diverse financial and business advisory services.

However, in 2009, the Bank underwent a strategic repositioning exercise spearheaded by a new management team that has seen its profile rise considerably which finally culminated into its taking a sound strategic decision to operate as a commercial Bank with regional Scope in South-South Nigeria, South-West Nigeria, Lagos and Abuja in 2011.

Committed to long-term sustainability in its business whilst maintaining the highest standards of social responsibility, corporate governance and diversity in its operations, Wema Bank’s services include commercial banking, corporate finance, institutional banking, retail banking and trade finance.

Although not among the top five biggest banks in the country going by its assets which stands at about N344.63 billion and a deposit base of N234.09 billion, Wema bank Plc stands tall among its peers by its fiercely loyal customers.

In 2013, Wema Bank courageously approached the capital market by way of private placement to raise fund required to shore up the capital base which would among others strengthen it to restore its national operations. The offer proved very successful with issues proceeds of about N40 billion which made shareholders’ funds to close in positive territory of approximately N41 billion. In 2014, this increased to N44 billion which translated to risk weighted asset ratio of 19%.

As the bank restructured its balance sheet and returned to good financial health after some past operational and regulatory challenges, it moved to restore earnings potential and resumed the process of growing lending operations.

In its 2016 half year financials, Wema bank reported an 11 percent rise in profit and a 15 percent rise in turnover. Operating expenses only grew by 2.7%, a testament to the bank’s disciplined and innovative approach towards keeping cost of doing business low.

According to its MD/CEO, the 2016 financial year has been characterized by deceleration on a number of economic indicators coupled with increasing energy costs, intensified by rising inflation, all within a tough operating environment.

“We commence the second half of the year with a sense of cautious optimism; well aware that the economic fundamentals point to an economy heading for further slowdown, yet hopeful that additional fiscal initiatives will be implemented to stimulate growth.”

The core of Wema bank’s brand is its responsiveness. This is the single concept which drives the understanding of what the bank does, and how Wema Bank go about its business. It is the one word that best personifies the behavior, products and services of the Bank.

And in line with one of its objectives of measuring its successes not only by what the bank gains or reaps from the people, but most importantly, by the reciprocal value it add to their lives through its Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives.

The Bank’s CSR focus is premised on its core values of Teamwork, Mutual Respect, Innovation, Professionalism and Result Orientation. Its strategic approach to CSR places high premium on sustainability, especially on the issue of cross-generational equity. The sustainability practices are consciously being integrated into its core business functions.

Consequently, the Bank has supported worthy causes in the society with its CSR projects and activities, encompassing areas such as education, health, arts & culture and sports. It has committed huge resources to support education and educational institutions. Key assets like buildings and vehicles have been donated to several institutions. Scholarships and endowments have also been awarded.

In the health sector, the Bank has provided financial support to people in critical situations to obtain quality medical treatment in Nigeria and abroad. Equipment and other healthcare facilities have also been donated to various hospitals and care-givers. In addition, quality health schemes are in place for the Bank’s workforce, as its primary stakeholders.

Similarly, the Bank leverages its unique evolution to support and promote the cultural heritage of Nigerian indigenous communities. Wema Bank Plc is playing a key role in financing cultural festivals and art exhibitions nationwide. Besides, it uses its special relationship with community leaders to address important social issues. While it has also consistently demonstrates its support for the growth of sports in Nigeria through sponsorships and donations to several national, state and student-organised games and sporting events across the country.

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