Access Bank announces five year strategic plan, CEO-designate

Herbert Wigwe will take over from Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede at Access Bank.

Access Bank on Wednesday revealed its 5-year strategic plan at an event on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. The presentation was handled by the outgoing Chief Executive Officer, CEO, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede and the incoming CEO, Herbert Wigwe.

Mr. Aig-Imoukhuede had earlier this year announced plans to retire by December, in line with a Central Bank directive limiting the tenure of bank CEOs; and is expected to step down fully on December 31

The bank on Wednesday announced Herbert Wigwe, who was the Group Deputy Managing Director, as Chief Executive Officer-designate. He will succeed Mr. Aig-Imoukhuede at the end of 2013.

Mr. Wigwe started his professional career with Coopers and Lybrand Associates, an international firm of Chartered Accountants. He spent over 10 years at Guaranty Trust Bank where he managed several portfolios including Financial Institutions, Corporates and Multinationals. He left Guaranty Trust as an Executive Director to co-lead the transformation of Access Bank Plc in March 2002 as Deputy Managing Director.

The new incoming bank boss is an alumnus of Harvard Business School Executive Management Programme. He holds a Masters degree in Banking and International Finance from the University College of North Wales; a Masters degree in Financial Economics from the University of London, and a B.Sc. degree in Accounting from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).

Mr. Aig-Imoukhuede will be leaving the group after 11 and half years.

Highlights of the plan

Access Bank, which rates itself as Nigeria’s Corporate Bank Leader, plans to be “the world’s most respected African Bank” by 2018 but has set a mid-cycle goal post by 2015 of being a “high performing Nigerian diversified banking leader”.

By 2015, the bank expects to have consolidated its retail franchise and become a more consumer-centric bank, become more dominant in corporate banking, and be a leader in the Ghanaian banking sector.

By 2018, management expects to have expanded its African footprint to the most attractive markets, be a properly set-up multi-channel bank running an industrialized global operating model, be the preferred African bank in the U.K. and run the best in class technology platform in Africa.

Access Bank aims to grow its customer base to between 15 and 20 million across its African markets by 2018, from around 6 million, as it shifts its focus to retail banking. Mr. Wigwe said retail banking will account for around half of its total business in five years’ time, up from 30 per cent.

The bank also said it intends to grow its loan book by 15 per cent this year, up from 5 per cent in 2012, channeling funds to retail, telecom, and oil and gas financing. The bank is optimistic that corporate banking and infrastructure financing will also be key drivers of revenue.

The bank said it will participate in the financing of oil firms divesting from Nigeria to the tune of $30 million to $40 million, using some of the proceeds of its $350 million Eurobond sale, referring to expected asset sales this year by Shell and Chevron.

Ways to achieve success in strategic move, ‘unclear’

Renaissance Capital, while analysing the bank’s strategic outline, said the bank did not state when and how it’s next strategic move, retail banking, will translate to tangible returns.

“We welcome the establishment of this strategic plan, as it gives a clear idea of what to expect of the Access Bank business going forward. We think delivery on the strategic outlook was articulate though lacking specific ballpark financial targets that we were looking for” the firm said in a report analysing the bank’s plans.

“We were looking for ballpark financial targets from this presentation, which were lacking, though management said it plans to be “top 3 in any chosen market segment on all performance metrics”.

“What we can say is that establishing a proper retail business is the logical next step following the acquisition of the expansive Intercontinental Bank platform. When and how this will translate to tangible returns is a question we need clarity on from management. This is even more important given the CBN’s new rules on fees and commissions,” the firm added.

The firm said while the bank has historically delivered on the key elements of its strategic plans, retail is a new frontier for the Bank, on which very few of its peers have managed to deliver anything tangible on the asset side.

“Nigerian banks have often sung the retail song but execution results have been more on liabilities and skewed in favour of the tier 1 banks. Scale has been delivered by Access Bank, now we want returns – sustainable returns,” the firm said.

Since the current team took over management of Access Bank in 2002, this is the third 5-year rolling plan that the bank is establishing.

Experts say what is clear from the previous two strategic plans is that management was in pursuit of scale, which is a key achievement of Access Bank today. The next cycle for the bank involves deepening and expanding its current strengths in corporate banking, and growing and establishing a proper retail banking business.

Going forward, the bank will be structured operationally along these two business lines. Historically, Access Bank’s key strength was in corporate banking; hence, the execution of this strategic plan will see most new investments happening in retail banking. This will span across risk management structures, branches and back-end operational infrastructure.

Access Bank completed the acquisition of Intercontinental Bank last year, which put it in the top four of 21 Nigerian banks, up from ninth in 2007.

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