June 22, 2009

Stanbic IBTC Set for Bigger Role in the Economy

By Lucky Fiakpa
There are investment opportunities in the concession of major transportation infrastructure in the country; the rapidly growing middle class also presents opportunities in the retail banking segment and the bank seems set to play bigger role in these areas, Lucky Fiakpa writes  Stanbic IBTC Set for Bigger Role in the Economy



The recent announcement by the Fed   eral Government that it is in the proc   ess of concessioning the major transportation infrastructure in the country on long term basis may have struck an investment chord with the management of Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc. The bank believes huge funds would be needed to finance majority of the projects and given its expertise and experience in the package of deals of similar nature across Nigeria and in the world, it believes it is well positioned to play a key role in the infrastructure enhancement policy of the Federal Government.

All machineries, according to the management, have been well oiled to deliver quality services in this direction. With operations in far flung China, North and South America, Europe, and 17 African countries, coupled with the multifarious cultures and messages the bank grapples with on a daily basis, the bank says, Stanbic IBTC’s ability to deliver quality service in this realm is not in doubt.

The challenge of staff from different cultures and countries speaking different languages interacting at the head office in South Africa; the bank delivering the same high level of services across boundaries and different time zones seamlessly, while its communications remain the same, is what Standard Bank has been able to achieve in its over 140 years. With a commitment to making a real difference to financial services in countries where it operates, the bank, a top management source says, has long stayed the course in ensuring that its messages transcend the limitations of boundaries and cultures.

Some of the roads that have been mentioned for the concession programme include Sagamu – Benin Expressway and the Abuja – Lokoja Road, among many others. They are to be concessioned along the line of the recently concessioned Lagos – Ibadan Expressway.

The railways will follow a similar pattern. This is being made possible with a change in infrastructure delivery policy and the setting up of a government organ to regulate concessions of public infrastructure.

The potential economic benefit of farming out infrastructure of this nature is huge and could be far-reaching. But beyond this is the need for the requisite fund and expertise required to deliver support for such projects to ensure they succeed. “This is where Standard Bank’s experience in working to deliver such projects in emerging economies will be vital to the Federal Government’s drive to deliver infrastructure to Nigerians,” the source said.

Standard Bank with over 140 experience is today the biggest bank in Africa, with assets of over N24 trillion (US$162 billion), and employing more than 50,000 people worldwide. The bank’s expertise in corporate and investment banking is well regarded. In Nigeria, Stanbic IBTC bank has shown leadership in the major deals that have been struck.

It only recently helped put together the N45 billion Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria syndicated facility to expand its Ewekoro Plant. On the back of this was the facility granted the Lekki Concession Company to build the Lekki Toll Road in Lagos, and of course the biggest deal ever arranged in Africa, the US$2 billion facility granted by the bank to MTN Nigeria for the expansion of the telecom company’s network.

Retail Market
With its reputation in this segment   of the market well established, the   bank is now gearing to establish a greater presence in the retail end of the market. In line with that mindset, Stanbic IBTC has been moving rapidly to establish its presence in many communities by setting up new branches complete with its complement of infrastructure and other facilities to deliver the seamless and cutting edge services it is known for.

Building on the experience of Stanbic Bank and IBTC pre-merger, strength which was further enhanced when Standard Bank acquired majority stake in the merged bank, Stanbic IBTC is well placed to contribute to Nigeria’s economic growth, whether at the corporate and investment segment of the market, or the retail segment.

The rapidly growing middle class seems to be one of the attractions to the bank. The bank’s management believes the middle class requires sophisticated financial intermediation to meet their aspirations, be it in the acquisition of a new home and other assets. Standard Bank’s products, the bank says, are standardised across board, in terms of full disclosure of charges and other sundry details so that subscribers are not taken by surprise when they access these facilities.

And because the bank operates at the global stage, the charges it applies to these facilities are in many cases globally competitive. A lot of these products have been packaged in suitably attractive bouquets targeted at individual customers, meeting their needs for specific and customised banking products and services. It is the standard that has been set in other parts of the world that is being replicated in other markets where Standard Bank has operations.

It is true that the South African market and those of other well developed economies, could work better than that of Nigeria given the state of infrastructures in the different markets, but according to the management source, “recognising these nuances in cultures among different people and building on them could hold the key to the bank’s vision of becoming one of the biggest banks in the world, with strong presence in emerging economies”.

New Business Online
Standard Bank recently introduced its   New Business Online in Nigeria to   strengthen its universal banking franchise. The platform is a multi-currency, multi-country, multi-entity portal that eliminates the encumbrances of transactions across borders using different currencies and under different time zones.

The NBO, as the New Business online is called, already exist in other markets where the bank has operations. Its introduction in Nigeria signifies the bank’s strategic move towards linking up Nigerian businesses to the global financial network, enhancing seamless transactions. It also indicates the growing sophistication of businesses in the country, seeing how readily it comes handy for merchants to order, pay for and monitor goods and services from any part of the world. This product alongside many others have been designed to enrich the customer’s banking experience, making banking products tools to help the individual to achieve his dreams.


In addition to the unique banking experi
ence Stanbic IBTC offers its customers
are subsidiaries that help the individual to grow his/her wealth while working and to retire blissfully, perhaps wealthier than when he was in active employment. The Stanbic IBTC Asset management Limited helps individuals invest their money profitably, while the Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers is reputed as the leader in its sector, paying a record N550 million to 13,000 retirees every month. The same service threshold level that has been achieved in its banking arm has been replicated in its subsidiaries, with emphasis on connecting with customers and clients on a more effective individual level.
The retail end of the banking sector may be in for a shake-up with the renewed focus of Standard Bank at connecting more effectively with its customers.
Realising the peculiarities of the different demographics that make up the population in Nigeria, the messages are going to be more direct, prompting and helping to connect the different strata of the population to the various products and services of the bank that will enhance their wellbeing.
Indeed, communications that connect in Kano might not necessarily connect as effectively in Lagos or in Port Harcourt. But then, the bank is coming from a rich background of working in a highly diversified world, an experience that will be a veritable tool in establishing a strong presence in the retail segment of the market.