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Heritage Bank Blazes The Trail By Winning Multiple Awards

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Heritage Bank Plc, Nigeria’s Most Innovative Banking Service provider emerged winner in several categories at the 2021 Human Resource (HR) People Magazine Awards and at the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria’s (FICAN) 30th-Anniversary Conference and Awards.

The bank carted away five coveted awards- HR Champion Award (for MD/CEO, COO), Most Outstanding Engagement Strategy for over 1000 Employees, and the HR Leader Award (for Heads of HR).

Others that were awarded by the largest body of financial journalists in Africa, FICAN to Heritage Bank are the duo Platinum Awards presented to the MD/CEO, Ifie Sekibo, and Heritage Bank for Outstanding Support towards FICAN and Financial Reporting, respectively.

The bank won the prestigious awards in recognition of the leadership of Heritage Bank in Human Capital Development (HCM) for putting employees first and ensuring that its people management & engagement strategies are second to none, and in celebration of its MD/CEO, Sekibo’s leadership style. The bank was also recognized for Outstanding Support towards Financial Reporting in Nigeria.

This was Heritage Bank’s first time participating in such an event as HR practitioners, as the financial institution had the opportunity to enter 3 award categories.

Over 20 established brands from different industry sectors were also said to have participated in the several keenly contested award categories, which cut across various areas of people management and development. Despite the formidable competition and the very rigorous screening process, Heritage Bank emerged as the winner in the series of awards won.

Commenting on the awards, the Divisional Head, Human Capital Management, Abike Wesey expressed gratitude to the organizers for believing in Heritage Bank and the leadership of the bank for their support to employees’ welfare.

“We are ecstatic to have received this honour and are extremely grateful for the leadership of Executive Management, for giving us wings to fly right in our corner and always willing to listen. It was indeed a remarkable moment for us, as we strutted up the dais, with heads held up high and proud, amidst the cheer & accolades from the HR community, well represented at the event; especially in an event of such caliber, being recognized in a gathering of doyens & captains of Industries for our exceptional accomplishments in a widely acclaimed, challenging year – it was definitely no small feat,” Wesey said.

According to her, “The award and commendations go a long way to show that our people management & engagement strategies are truly working, and we are committed to doing more in our world to keep the Heritage flag flying. We identify with our Heritage, because, winning is our heritage.”

The HR Awards is very unique because of its process and organization. The organizers are usually not aware of the winners till the day of the event, the same time the results are revealed per category and award submissions are made on a peculiar website – comparable to none in West Africa.  The judges are respected & prominent former heads of HR, selected from five different countries and from various industries, with cutting-edge experience who judge the contestants on global best practices.

BIG STORY

CBN Issues Cyber-Security Guidelines, Asks Financial Institutions To Comply By January 2023

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Nigeria’s apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has issued cybersecurity guidelines for other financial institutions (OFIs).

CBN made this known in a circular dated June 29, 2022, and signed by Nkiru Asiegbu, director, Other Financial Institutions Supervision Department.

According to the apex bank, all OFIs are expected to fully comply with the provisions of the guidelines by January 1, 2023.

It stressed that threats such as ransomware, targeted phishing attacks, and advanced persistent threats (APT) have become prevalent, demanding that financial institutions, including OFIs, strengthen their cyber resilience and take proactive steps to secure their critical information assets.

“As a result of the recent increase in the number and sophistication of cybersecurity threats against financial institutions, especially other financial institutions (OFIs), it has become mandatory for institutions to strengthen their cyber defenses if they are to remain safe and sound,” the circular reads.

“Consequently, the CBN hereby issues the attached risk-based cybersecurity framework and guidelines for OFIs, which represent the minimum requirements to be put in place by all OFIs.

“The effective date for full compliance with the provisions of the guidelines is January 1, 2023, and all OFIs are expected to comply on or before that date.”

The CBN said the guidelines specify the minimum requirements the OFIs need to observe in the development and implementation of strategies, policies, procedures, and related activities aimed at mitigating cyber risks.

“OFIs should note that for a cybersecurity programme to be successful, it must be fully integrated into their business goals and objectives, and must be an integral part of the overall risk management processes,” it added.

“The framework provides a risk-based approach to cybersecurity risk.

“The document comprises six parts: cybersecurity governance and oversight, cybersecurity risk management system, cyber resilience assessment, cybersecurity operational resilience, cyber-threat intelligence and metrics, monitoring and reporting.”

The CBN circular comes days after reports surfaced that Momo Payment Service Bank Limited (Momo PSB), the fintech subsidiary of MTN Nigeria, suffered a “security breach”, resulting in a loss of N22 billion.

The incident occurred barely a week after the PSB commenced operations.

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BIG STORY

FOREX: Dollar Hits N615, Local Raw Materials Sourcing Drops To 52%

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The pressure on the foreign exchange market keeps growing, with the dollar exchanging at N615 at the parallel market in Lagos and Abuja.

This is even as the percentage of local raw materials sourced by Nigerian manufacturers declined to 52.4 percent in 2021, from 57.5 percent obtained in 2020, according to data from the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria.

Market research showed that a dollar sold for N613 and N614 at Zone 4 in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, but the rate was N615 at Amuwo Odofin and Lagos airports on Tuesday.  At Abuja airports, a dollar was sold for N615. The situation was different at the Importers and Exporters window where a dollar went for N415.64, putting the margin between the official and the parallel markets at N199.36.

Bureau de Change players said dollars were becoming increasingly scarce and the price could get to N700 before the end of the year.

“We are looking for dollars to buy, but we can’t find it anywhere. People are hoarding their dollars and waiting for prices to rise further,” Aminu Bala, one of the BDCs in Zone 4, Abuja, said in pidgin English.

Abdullahi Isah, a BDC at Amuwo-Odofin in Lagos, lamented that they bought at N610-N612, saying that scarcity of dollars was hurting their business and the economy.

According to the President, of the Association of Bureaux de Change Operators of Nigeria, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, no sensible person would like to sell his or her dollar when prices could rise within the shortest possible time.

Gwadabe noted that the naira was facing a war of attrition, worsened by currency substitution, speculation, politics, and exclusion of BDCs from the FX market.

He said due to the one-month notice given to travelers who needed basic allowances, many of them were finding their way to the parallel market, putting further pressure on the market.

Gwadabe called for the reinstatement of BDCs to the FX market, stressing the need for market liberalization.

Nigeria is facing a dollar crunch, coupled with declining government revenue and oil production. The revenue of the Federal Government has declined from N970.57 billion in July 2021 to N680.783 billion in May 2022.

Nigeria earned about $10bn in non-oil exports in 2021, but this is just about 30 percent of what Bangladesh earned from its textile exports last year. Oil production fell to 1.2 million barrels per day in April 2022 from 1.238 million barrels in March, according to OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report. This is far from the oil benchmark of 1.88 million barrels per day in the 2022 budget.

Manufacturers are also in the mix, scrambling for dollars to import inputs, spare parts, and machinery.

According to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, the decline of local input sourcing from 57.5 percent to 52.4 percent was attributed to the scarcity of raw materials.

“Since the full opening of the economy following the lockdown associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, local raw materials and other manufacturing inputs have been relatively scarce and costly. This has also affected the output of the sector negatively,” MAN said.

Professor of Ceramics Engineering, Patrick Oaikhinan, explained that his experience in ceramics-related raw materials showed that Nigeria was still far from developing its raw materials.

“The major reason companies are sourcing raw materials from abroad is the absence of details about chemical and mineralogical compositions of raw materials. Firms are also unaware of the physical and mechanical properties and areas of applications in various industries of these raw materials,” he said.

“We do not know the extent of the deposits, much less the chemical and mineralogical compositions of our raw materials. We do not have the laboratory to characterize the raw materials. If you do not know these compositions, you cannot formulate the products. If you are using trial and error, you cannot get the desired quality. Many local industries do not have the laboratories to characterize the raw materials before use because it is expensive,” he explained.

He called for a policy to develop the local raw materials and make them more marketable.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, who interacted with manufacturers while he was the director-general of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said it was high time Nigeria addressed the issue of its core industries.

“If we want to promote industrialization and self-reliance, we need to address the issue of our core industries. When I say core industries, I mean industries that form the pillar for other industries.

“Iron and steel is number one. Look at how much investment we have made in Ajaokuta Complex. The whole vision was to have an iron and steel sector that will support industrialization. The country wanted to get flat sheets, spare parts, and iron rods, among others, from Ajaokuta, but we didn’t make any headway. The second major one is petrochemicals. Look at the packaging industry. Almost 90 percent of packaging products are plastics.  Next is the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria. It was a gas-based industry and the vision then was to use it to support cable and wire industries, but again we made a complete mess of it.”

He said Nigeria must fix these industries urgently before talking about the industrialization of any kind.

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BIG STORY

Adeduntan Sustains His Winning Streak, Pioneers Leadership Excellence In Banking

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Since his appointment as MD/CEO of First Bank of Nigeria Limited in 2016, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan has completely transformed the financial institution and has made it attractive to every strata of the society. From an institution that used to be perceived as an old-generation bank, FirstBank is now a darling to all as it leverages latest digital tools to meet its customers’ needs. Also, under Adeduntan’s leadership, the 128-year old bank has made huge contributions to national development, thereby stimulating development, setting standards and motivating excellent output across sectors. Clearly, these contributions to national development were what endeared Adeduntan to President Muhammadu Buhari who recently saluted him on his recognition by Cranfield University, UK, one of the most prestigious citadels of learning in Europe. Adeduntan will on Wednesday, June 22, be conferred with Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa and he would be delivering an address to the graduating class of the university. This feat, the president in a statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Femi Adesina, described as, “another testament to the fact that Nigeria is blessed with the brightest and the best in all areas of human endeavor.” Buhari lauded Adeduntan for being a role model to the younger generation, showing that hard work pays, and with resourcefulness and doggedness, great heights are achievable.

Adeduntan holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Ibadan, Master’s in Business Administration from Cranfield University, and is Fellow of Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), as well as Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).

The president sent best wishes to Adeduntan and family as he hoisted Nigeria’s flag proudly to receive an honor Cranfield University said was in recognition of his outstanding contribution to business. Incidentally, Buhari’s commendation came on the day the bank successfully held its AGM which showed a stellar performance in its financials, a transformational result that put the bank on course to reclaiming its leadership position of the financial sector.

Adeduntan has a distinguished career in finance having held senior positions at Citibank Nigeria, KPMG and Arthur Andersen Nigeria. He studied at Cranfield University as a British Chevening Scholar, achieving an MBA in 2005.

Commenting on the honour by Cranfield University, the FirstBank boss said: “I am extremely humbled and most grateful to the university for this recognition. My time at Cranfield served as a catalyst for my professional and personal development propelling me to the leadership position I occupy today.

“I am a firm believer in talent management, being vital to further accelerate Africa’s growth to enable it to benefit from its demographic dividend and the opportunities therein. I look forward to sharing my experiences with the students on the universal applicability of the skills the Cranfield MBA provides to positively impact the world.”

On his part, the Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University, Professor Karen Holford CBE FREng also congratulated Adeduntan, saying: “It is an honour to welcome Dr Adeduntan back to Cranfield to recognise all his professional achievements in this way. His own experience at Cranfield University has propelled his career forward and this serves as a true inspiration for our graduates both this year and in the future.”

Indeed, Adeduntan is an accomplished professional with distinctive international and domestic experience in commercial and investment banking, development finance, audit, and consulting; a philanthropist and leader with keen interest in providing platforms for the development of other young leaders.

The FirstBank Group, the commercial banking arm of FBN Holdings Plc, which he heads is made up of First Bank of Nigeria and subsidiaries including FBNBank UK, FBNBank DRC, FBNBank Ghana, FBNBank Senegal, FBNBank Guinea, FBNBank Gambia, FBNBank Sierra Leone and First Pension Custodian as well as Representative Offices in France and China.

Adeduntan is overseeing one of the most extensive transformation programmes in sub-Saharan African financial services industry, with the goal to reposition FirstBank Group to market pre-eminence.

He is leading FirstBank Group on the journey to win the most significant emerging business opportunities in the financial services industry through the development and execution of a digital-led strategy that has established FirstBank as the dominant player in digital banking.

FirstBank Group’s transformation programme, under the leadership of Adeduntan has enabled the bank to grow customer accounts from about 10 million in 2015 to over 36 million (including digital wallets), become the second largest issuer of cards in Africa with over 11.8 million issued cards, onboard over 18.6 million active customers on FirstBank’s digital banking platforms, and initiate and grow the most expansive bank-led Agent Banking Network in Africa with over 170,000 agents.

His career in banking and finance, spanning almost three decades, has earned him various recognitions and awards including Forbes Best of Africa – Outstanding Leader in Africa, Distinguished Alumnus Award by both the Cranfield University’s School of Management and the University of Ibadan, African Banking Personality of the Year, African Banker of the Year Award; Banking Icon of the Decade by the Sun Newspapers and induction into the African Leadership Magazine (ALM) Hall of Fame, Honorary Citizenship of the State of Georgia and Congressional Commendation Award from the Georgia Senate – USA, Bank CEO of the Year by the AES Excellence Club and several other awards.

He has attended various executive and leadership programmes at Harvard Business School (USA), Wharton School (USA), London Business School (UK), IESE (Spain), University of Oxford (UK), University of Cambridge (UK), CEIBS (China) and INSEAD (France). He is a fellow of both the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).

Adeduntan’s leadership drive also reflected in First Bank Nigeria Limited’s recently released full year 2021 financial statement. The results clearly showed the strength and resilience of the iconic African elephant as well as the financial institution’s leadership in the industry. The impressive results were a reflection of the robust strength and growth of the iconic African elephant, showing that the bank has taken its rightful position among the industry leaders.

In addition, it showed the level of work the current board, management and staff of the bank have put in to turn the tide in the 128 years old institution with entrenched corporate governance.

The full year 2021 performance by the bank represented a shift in the financial institution’s performance trajectory and was made possible through its undeterred commitment in pursuing its transformational agenda; cutting across customer-led innovation, building a digitalised bank, culture change, reinventing the bank’s workplace and safeguarding its assets for the digital age.

For the first time, FirstBank Group posted the best result in more than a decade history of the bank by crossing the N100 billion profit line. Specifically, in the full year 2021 financial statement, the FirstBank Group reported a 73.9 per cent growth in its profit after tax to N117.8 billion, as against the N67.8 billion recorded as of December 2020, just as its profit before tax stood at N130.9 billion, which was a significant rise by 77.9 per cent year-on-year, as against the N73.6 billion it was as of December 2020.

FirstBank’s gross earnings also increased by 30.3 per cent to N716.8 billion in 2021, up from N550.3 billion it was as of December 2020. Also, it recorded non-interest income of N342.2 billion in the year under review, which was 106.4 per cent higher than the N165.8 billion recorded as of December 2020. As a result of years of strategic restructuring of its balance sheet and operations, its gross earnings also moved northwards by 30.3 per cent, its total assets was up 15.9 per cent to N8.5 trillion as of the end of 2021, as against the N7.4 trillion recorded the previous year, just as its customer deposits also climbed by 19.5 per cent to N5.6 trillion, up from the N4.7 trillion recorded the previous year. The bank’s customer loans and advances also improved by 28 per cent to N2.8 trillion in the year under review, up from N2.2 trillion the previous year.

FirstBank has shown innovation, resilience and commitment to growth by significantly reducing its non-performing loans (NPL) from 25% in 2016 to an acceptable level of 6.1% in 2021.

To demonstrate that the bank’s performance in 2021 was not a fluke, the Bank equally performed excellently well in Q1 2022. FirstBank recorded 32% increase in gross earnings to N180bn in Q1’22 from N136.6bn in Q1’21. Profit after tax was up 108% to N32.4 billion (Q1’22) relative to N15.6 billion (Q1’21). This impressive performance is hinged on robust loan portfolio, effective cost structure and increased digital services.FirstBank recorded the highest decline in its cost-to-income ratio in Q1 2022, dropping from 79.5% recorded in Q1 2021 to 67.03% amongst tier-1 Banks in the review period.

With FirstBank under Adeduntan, the safety of customers and the security of their transactions come first. This has ensured the bank keeps the trust of Nigerians gained over the many years of its enduring legacy of safety and security.

The bank also delivers unique and bespoke financial services solutions across all customer segments underpinned by its commitment to innovation and the customer experience. It also leverages its strong investment banking capabilities to support clients in defining and executing innovative debt solutions as well as offer strategic advice at the highest level, arrange tailor-made financing structures, manage risk and ultimately help clients to realise their aspirations

Since its establishment in 1894, FirstBank has consistently built relationships with customers focusing on the fundamentals of good corporate governance, strong liquidity, optimised risk management and leadership.

Over the years, the bank has led the financing of private investment in infrastructure development in the Nigerian economy by playing key roles in the federal government’s privatisation and commercialisation schemes. With its global reach, FirstBank provides prospective investors wishing to explore the vast business opportunities that are available in Nigeria, an internationally competitive world-class brand and a credible financial partner. It is expected that the leadership excellence and recognitions accorded to Adeduntan would continue to reflect positively on the FirstBank brand and fundamentals of the bank so that the elephant will continue to stand ‘gidigba.’

Culled from ThisDay

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