We’ll drive growth with technology, says Wema Bank CEO

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Wema Bank, Mr Ademola Adebise, has said that the bank will leverage technology and innovation to drive its growth. This, he said, would enable the bank to realise its goal of doubling the key indices of its assets, deposits and profits within the next two years.

He added that the transformational efforts by the bank to become a strong retail bank had been yielding results with its ability to declare dividends in 2018, the first time in 14 years.

Speaking with journalists in Lagos recently, Adebise explained that the bank was refreshing its information technology tool, which he said would be deployed responsibly to bring about the desired growth.

He said, “We intend to be a strong retail bank leveraging technology and innovation. For us, what we have said is that in the next two years, we would work to double our key indices of assets, deposits and profits through organic growth.

“Today, we are about N400bn, in the neighbourhood of N500bn in assets, and if we stretch that, we would be shooting for N800bn by the time we double our indices. We want to get to N1tn mark in terms of our assets.

“We have all the right tools in place and we are refreshing our IT, side by side our Alat product, which is doing well out there and what we are doing now is to review it and take it to the next level. It’s not just about pumping money to excite ourselves; we know what we are doing. Shareholders are interested in returns, so we have to deploy our limited resources in a way that would benefit all stakeholders. We have a clear digital journey we are working on.”

He stressed that innovation was a key ingredient in the sector.

He said, “To remain competitive in this market, one needs to be very innovative, and for us, we want to be innovative, agile and deploy products that appeal to the needs of the customers. We would leverage technology as much as possible.

“We want to be an innovative bank, generate ideas and solve problems using technology and the three main problems we want to solve are; reduce the cost to service our customers, improve top line revenues for the bank and the last one is to solve societal problems.

“We have key sectors of the economy that we have mapped out to achieve this growth. We are also trying to ensure that we have well trained and well remunerated staff to be able to achieve the vision and we are very committed to it.”

Adebise explained that the bank had identified sectors it would play in, including small and medium scale enterprises, agriculture value chain, oil and gas and the creative industry.

He said, “We have sectors we have mapped out for us to play in, I mean in the retail space, like SMEs, oil and gas and agriculture and what we have done is to tailor our products along the intervention schemes of the government.

“For example, there is a Central Bank of Nigeria intervention scheme towards agriculture, so we have done our strategy and we have looked at the value chain. We want to focus on processing and we would look at the aggregators for all the SMEs and peasant farmers. And in supporting the aggregators, we look at key crops like cassava in the South-West and rice in the North and we are looking at engaging them. We have clearly mapped out products that we would use to appeal to these segments of the market.

“What is of interest today is that business models are changing. It’s not the old style of doing agriculture ; we are talking about the different players within that value chain and being able to use technology to put everything together. Agriculture is the major contributor to our Gross Domestic Product, so we look at how to boost export, which would bring back a lot of forex into the system and our reserves.”

He stressed the bank’s commitment to discipline and corporate governance in giving out quality loans.

The CEO also noted that since the bank got its national licence in 2015, it had returned to the North and the East. “They are picking up and what we are doing is opening branches based on business exigencies and considerations, not wishful thinking or sentiments,” he added.

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