By Dipo Olowookere
The maiden edition of Investors Forum of Heritage Bank Plc has taken place in Lagos and the financial institution used the occasion to roll out its global aspiration to stakeholders present at the event.
For those very conversant with the banking sector, they will agree that Heritage Bank Plc has indeed lived up to its slogan of being the ‘Timeless Wealth Partner’ to its investors and customers.
During the forum, which was held at the Orchid Hall of the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos, the bank took stakeholders through a journey of all the transformation activities that have made since inception till date.
Inside venue of the occasion, words like “We have a story, how we started and where we are going”; “All that defines us!”; “Whatever our purpose, we all desire to succeed;” “We all desire to leave a legacy of success;” “Welcome to history in the making,” and “We are a service organization in the business of banking!” resonated with joy.
Heritage Bank Plc, formed under the operating licence of the defunct Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria (SGBN), is renowned for pioneering a number of banking initiatives in Nigeria.
Heritage Bank, which began full operation on March 4, 2013 as a regional bank with only about 11 branches, became a national financial services provider at the acquisition of Enterprise Bank Limited with over 160 branches.
According to the management team, today, the bank is said to have a physical network of over 160branches, referred to as experience centres; 418 automated teller machines (ATMs) and over 1,630 points of sales (POS) devices all over the country. It is the first bank in Nigeria to be ISO certified in less than two years of operation and holds the record of introducing ATM machines nationwide.
Heritage Bank is also said to be one of the first financial institutions in the country to commence the SME Clinic initiative; and convincingly, it said, in the coming years, it will establish itself as the bank of choice for its customers’ needs and prospects. According to the bank, “We intend to provide a platform for your investment to grow.”
Mr Adetola Atekoja, a director of the bank, who represented the chairman, Mr Akinsola Akinfemiwa, in his speech during the forum stated that the business combination with Enterprise Bank Limited in September 2015 was a commendable success. This is reflective of the commitment of our people, support of our customers and the degree of investors’ confidence in the bank, he remarked.
The director said that over the last three years, the bank has committed its efforts and resources to the building of an enduring and resilient banking franchise in spite of the challenges in the macroeconomic space. “In the midst of the stormy realities presented by events within the political and economic environment, we have continued to pursue our strategic aspiration of not only making the bank stable but stronger.”
He said, “Our ambition to emerge as a systemic important bank remains the underlying essence of our next growth phase strategy. The foundational element of our strategy – People, Partnership and Process will be recalibrated to match the rapidly changing needs of our customers especially as we deploy a full steam retail banking franchise.”
He added that the bank is on a growth track and are not unmindful of the headwinds facing the domestic economy, but remain very optimistic that the Heritage brand will continue to surf over the current economic tide through collective efforts to remain an enduring institution.
While reiterating the lender’s commitment to continually deliver high quality and sustainable earnings, Atekoja said the Board and Management are confident that the financial institution will continue to grow by appealing to key client segments, especially, in the retail space, as an important and growing market. “Heritage Bank’s outlook is bright and we expect to surpass our past year’s performance,” he said.
Divisional Head, Strategy and Execution, Mr Segun Akanji, who expanded on the benefits derived from the merger with Enterprise Bank, noted as follows: access to the market; acquisition of critical mass of customers; access to distribution and a very visible presence across the country, helping us to expand our list of customers.
“Once the combination was concluded, we had to come up with a kind of strategy that would support the business with a wider coverage that is why the foundational evidence of Heritage Bank really thrives on three pillars: People, Partnership and Processes.
“We believe that interaction with people; having the technology that will help support services to customers and ensuring that that partnership adds value to what we do, that is one of the key pillars and driving force of the bank called Heritage Bank.”
Mr Akanji explained to the forum that Heritage Bank is not limiting itself to the Nigerian shores alone, as their next level of maturity is bursting into the global financial scene, especially considering that the Nigerian economy is one that thrives on trade finance.
“We will create opportunities that will spur up our economy to other markets where we find opportunities that will help customers to secure wealth and build businesses that are also global.”
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