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CEO of the Year- Nnamdi Okonkwo: The banking wizard at Fidelity Bank

When the history of Nigeria’s highly competitive banking industry is written, one bank whose place in history cannot be glossed over is Fidelity Bank Plc.

The entry of Fidelity as it is popularly called by its numerous customers both in Nigeria and elsewhere across the world, though gradual, has grown like the oak tree, stamping its unique authority and statement on the Nigerian, business (banking) terrain.

With a chain of branch networks spread across the country, Fidelity has today emerged as one of investors’ brides- emerging to its ecstatic stakeholders and an envy of its peers.

Indeed, the human factor played a key role in its recent growth. The emergence of the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, who, with a strong finance background combined this potential to effectively manage the bank’s human and material resources together, attest to this giant stride.

Okonkwo is being assisted by equally highly cerebral and professional top shot, like Muhammed Balarade, Deputy Managing Director, among others.

Today, the young man, in spite of the vicissitude of life he had faced in the course of this tasking job, is popularly described as a banking wizard.

Okonkwo is not one to be carried away by his long list of achievements. He remained committed to growing the bank, its customer base, bouquet of products offering and its customer base.

He knows he is in a race to win when he was appointed as the helmsman of the bank.

As an uncommon go-getter, today, observers can say confidently that he has redefined Nigerian banking industry. Yet, he remained undaunted.

A peep into Fidelity Bank’s inroad into the Nigerian banking sector will suffice here.

Fidelity Bank, also known as Fidelity Bank Plc., is a commercial bank in Nigeria. It is licensed as a commercial bank, by the Central Bank of Nigeria, and national banking regulator.

In 2011, the bank was ranked the 7th most capitalized bank in Nigeria, the 25th most capitalized bank on the African continent.

As of December 2013, Fidelity Bank Plc. was a large financial services provider in Nigeria with total assets estimated at over US$6.318billion (NGN:1+ trillion), and shareholders’ equity in excess of US$1 billion (NGN:158 billion). This has since increased.

At that time, the bank served 2.3 million customers at about 239 business offices nationally. The bank currently has over 400,000 diverse shareholders.

It was listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in May 2005 and has consistently paid dividends annually since its listing, as of June 2016, according to BGL Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc had a market capitalisation of NGN:37,072,109,685.76

Fidelity Bank of Nigeria was incorporated in the year 1987; and began its operations in 1988. It initially started with a Merchant Banking license, with the objective of positively impacting on the Nigerian economy through participation and contribution to the growth of the Nigerian Economy with the provision of quality and timely financial services.

The bank converted to a commercial bank in the year 1999 in an attempt to grow, as a private limited company and became a Public Limited Company also in August, 1999. It re-branded to Fidelity Bank Plc that year.

It secured its Universal Banking License in February 2001 and also obtained its International Banking License in the year 2011.

Fidelity Bank of Nigeria has grown to a stable banking institution.

During the 2005 Nigeria Banking consolidation, Fidelity Bank acquired FSB International Bank Plc (“FSB”) and Manny Bank Plc to become one of the top financially stabled banks in Nigeria.

Fidelity Bank currently has presence in all the states and major cities in Nigeria. Over the years, the bank has been reputed for its financial stability.

Fidelity continues to rank among Nigeria’s most capitalized banks, with tier-one capital of nearly USD1 billion (One Billion US Dollars).

The bank maintains a large network of interconnected branches in all Nigerian states and major cities in Nigeria. It has a wholly owned bank subsidiary in Ghana.

Fidelity Bank actively has imbibed its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a core function of its banking services.

It established the Fidelity Helping Hands Programme, where its area of focus is education, the environment and the health and social welfare.

It has over the years actively engaged and supported through its CSR, activities aimed at improving its area of focus through the Fidelity Helping Hands Programme.

The bank is today ranked amongst the top 10 in the Nigerian banking industry, with presence in the major cities and commercial centres of Nigeria.

Over the years, the bank has been reputed for integrity and professionalism. It is also respected for the quality and stability of its management.

Fidelity staff are also respected in the Nigerian banking industry for the quality of training they receive on the job, as well as in good business schools both in Nigeria and Overseas. The Management is particular about the quality of people that join the system.

To qualify as a member of Team Fidelity, a candidate is expected to possess three vital statistics, with the acronym TAC:

Talent (an innate mental aptitude), Ambition (a desire to succeed); Character (a total quality of integrity which will guide the talent and ambition to productive ends)

The Management is focused on building and maintaining a virile and well-respected brand that caters to the needs of its growing corporate, commercial and consumer banking clientele. For this purpose, the bank is leveraging its pedigree in investment banking (Fidelity was a merchant bank for 11 years) and its structures and service offerings for a retail populace.

Fidelity Bank also enjoys the respect and partnership of a network of off-shore institutions with which it has correspondent banking, confirmation lines, credit and other relationships.

These include, ANZ London, Afr-eximbank, Cairo, Egypt, ABSA South Africa, Commerce Bank, Frankfurt, Citibank, N.A. London and New York, FBN Bank, UK Ltd, SCB, London, US Ex-im Bank, USAID, etc.

The bank’s core vision is, “To be number one in every market we serve and for every branded product we offer.; while its core mission is, “To make financial services easy and accessible to our customers”.

Only recently, Okonkwo’s Midas touch in Fidelity saw it being honoured at the nation’s capital market

For example, in November last year, Fidelity Bank Plc emerged the best performing stock in percentage terms on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

In fact data sourced from the NSE for the period under review showed that the stock increased by 35.53 per cent to close at N2.06 per share in contrast with the month’s opening price of N1.52.

As part of its robust strategy to remain competitive, the bank’s bouquet of promos came to its rescue.

For example, as part of deliberate efforts to change the face of service and create total customer experience in the financial services industry, Fidelity Bank has deployed a ground- breaking and innovative solution for the collection of internally generated revenue (IGR) in Lagos State.

Working in conjunction with the State Government, Fidelity Bank developed the tax collection/payment solution via its Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) channel (*770#).

The solution, which is first of its kind in the industry, is in response to some of the challenges faced in making tax payments and remittances to Lagos State Government.

Fidelity Bank has, over the years, positioned itself as a key player in the Nigeria’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) across Federal and State mandates.

The Bank successfully deployed easy and convenient payment solutions in Anambra, Abia, Imo, Kano and Sokoto sates through Point of Sale (PoS) Terminal Tax Collections, Automated Electronic Motor Vehicle Licence, Land Registry Automation Processes and web payment platforms.

Again , through its well known promo, Get Alert in Millions reloaded, the bank has continued to soar in operations and performance.

Fidelity Bank Plc splashed N19 million to 13 of its customers in the second monthly draw of “Get Alert in Million Reloaded” promo in various regions of the country.

Okonkwo, the bank’s managing director, speaking at the promo draw in Lagos, said the initiative was the seventh in the series of promos organised by the bank to reward customers for their unflinching loyalty and patronage.

Okonkwo said the promo tagged ‘Get Alert In Millions Promo Reloaded’ was in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) financial inclusion policy.

He said the promotion was introduced to raise requisite awareness on the need for Nigerians to imbibe savings culture.

The bank also has a collection of awards to its credit.

Fidelity is a full-fledged commercial bank operating in Nigeria with over 3.8 million customers who are serviced across its 240 offices and various digital banking channels.

The bank is focused on select niche corporate banking sectors, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and is rapidly implementing a digital based retail banking strategy which has resulted in the following over the last three and half years; a 93 per cent growth in savings deposits, 50 percent customer enrollment on debit cards and 30 percent of its customers now using its flagship mobile/internet banking products.

Fidelity Bank recently released its Audited H1 2017 results, which showed a remarkable improvement on all indices with Gross Earnings increasing by 22 percent to N86 billion, Expenses declining by 2 per cent to N31 billion and Profit Before Tax (PBT) increasing by 67 percent to N10bn.

All these are the result of disciplined execution of the bank’s mid-term strategy.

No doubt, for Fidelity Bank, the sky is the beginning of its continuous record performance.

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