Leading by Example
Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Donovan Smith
The Access Bank Group of Companies is notorious for its ambitious vision: to be the world’s most respected African bank. With financial services across west, central and east Africa and the United Kingdom, the Group has seen its assets increase by almost 50 percent since 2010, from US$6.58 billion to more than US$9.2 billion in 2015, and is continuing to expand at a rapid rate.
With operations in Nigeria commencing 28 years ago, it is clear that Access Bank’s presence on the continent has been welcomed. The Bank has answered a call for financial inclusion in Africa by responding with approximately 366 branches across major cities and commercial centres in Nigeria, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, DRC and Zambia; and this number continues to rise along with the prospect of new countries to add to its portfolio.
“Access Bank has built its strength and success in corporate banking and is now taking its expertise and applying it to the personal and business banking platform. We constantly invest in new technologies and examine ways to grow our business to take it to new heights and continue with our impressive growth rates,” explained the Company.
As the youngest of its subsidiaries in Africa, Access Bank Zambia has now been in operation for six years and continues to lead by example in the country, setting the standard and challenging the status quo in order to create real value, in a sustainable and profitable manner, for its customers. “To ensure that this objective is kept in sight, we have since adopted appropriate customer relationship management business architecture to pursue our goals of leadership in customer intimacy and service delivery,” Access Bank Zamiba’s Managing Director (MD), Babatunde Balogun said in a statement on the Bank’s website.
Leveraging Access Bank Plc Nigeria’s successful integration of personal and business banking in 2012, the Group’s Zambia operations launched with an end-to-end offering across the commercial, corporate and retail platforms. In light of its successful deployment, Access Bank Zambia has set its sights on increasing its geographic spread of branches across Zambia in order to connect more individuals and businesses through banking.
“With our clearly defined risk management framework, we are ready to grant Zambian individuals and large and medium-sized corporates access to funding, which is of course accompanied by our own sound financial advice and support,” affirmed Balogun.
Accompanying its inclusive products and services framework is a concerted focus on securing long-term sustainability within each country of operation as the Bank explained: “We are very conscious of the interplay between our business and the environment we operate in, especially because our engagements are largely defined by ‘the triple bottom line’: people, planet and profit. Consequently, our corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives remain embedded into the core of our operations. This citizen focus is backed by an articulated staff volunteering scheme to ensure that Access Bank Zambia continues to positively impact the local environment in a sustainable and strategic manner.”
For Access Bank Zambia, the instigation of a sustainable business creates equity for the Bank and in turn, contributes to the economy. “This is the only way to build a business that delivers an enduring legacy of value to shareholders. By continuously evaluating our performance to ensure that we adhere to best practices, we set new milestones and provide the necessary tools for the implementation of our sustainability objectives,” the Company further added.
Supporting its CSR focus is a committee that oversees and steers Access Bank Zambia’s sustainability strategy through endorsements and initiatives that make a valuable local impact in the public domain. Every year, the Group releases a sustainability report in order to publicise the good work it has been doing across Africa.
“One major part of our CSR focus over the past few years has been to increase financial literacy among one million children by the end of 2015, to ensure they lead financially secure and inclusive lifestyles in the future,” the Bank said.
Working in partnership with Friends of the Global Fund Africa in 2011, the Group also trained 1,250 SMEs across Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda and Zambia in HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, and up-scaled their health programmes. “These SMEs will help some 22,500 employees and 90,000 of their dependents in making informed behavioural and medical choices that help prevent the spread of the ‘triple pandemic’,” highlighted the Bank.
On a continent where this ‘triple pandemic’ has a negative impact on one-third of SMEs, this workshop series is a powerful way to help African business eliminate loss of man hours and the associated costs.
School of Banking Excellence
Another aspect of the Bank’s brand visibility is ensuring customer satisfaction remains a top priority. Each year, the Group holds a celebration for customer service week, where employees are given a chance to refresh training and reconnect; communicating the Bank’s commitment to quality service, heightened awareness among employees of customer needs and generally boosting morale, motivation and teamwork.
Furthermore, the Access Bank School of Banking Excellence (located in Lagos, Nigeria) trains several batches of new staff every year, some of these are Zambia’s best and brightest fresh university graduates. The School takes each individual through a four-month intensive banking boot camp before preparing prospective employees to work within the Bank.
“So far we have seen great success from this training programme, and my pledge is that Access Bank will continue in this vein to create quality local talent while utilising the transferable competitive strengths of Access Bank Plc in Nigeria, such as: the invaluable depth of management experience in operating in the sub-Saharan Africa banking terrain; a strong corporate governance framework; a first-class and industry recognised people development structure; and a strong culture and value system, to add real value to the Zambian market,” emphasised the Zambia MD in a statement.
Five-year rolling plan
Investing profits back into the development of the Bank through the implementation of the latest technologies, adoption of the best customer service levels and adding new branches to its repertoire, Access Bank Zambia is on course to continue its valuable contributions to the overall Group. Now in the third phase of its five year rolling plan, the Group has obtained local credit ratings ranging from A- to AA- and remains a significant contender in the continent’s financial sector; embarking on a future that will see greater financial inclusion across its operations, including access to digital banking platforms.
“Without a doubt we will continue to play to our areas of strength; cash management, trade finance, customer service and technology and aggressively developing and deploying new bespoke products and services to address our customer’s emerging needs,” concluded Balogun.