By Omoh Gabriel
On the 16th of April, Diamond Bank hosted investors at the Famous Merchant Taylor’s Hall in London. It was a gathering of prominent investors, friends and well wishers of the bank to celebrate its presence in the financial hub of London. The Managing Director Mr. Alex Otti, had a brief session with Nigerian journalists who were there. Exerpts:
What next, Diamond Bank in UK?
I think we need to celebrate this first before we will be thinking of what next. I think it is a big feat because we have worked on it for a very long time, and we are very happy that we are here.
The reason why we are here is because of our customers. We will always be where our customers want us to be. So, it is the customers that determine where we will be and today in the UK, we have a large chunk of our business done by somebody else and today we are here and we are going to be doing those businesses.
What are those businesses?
International trade, most importantly letters of credit transactions and then of course, we have a lot of institutions in Nigeria that the subsidiaries are here or else where, and you know that London is a financial hub because when we are in London, we can reach out to anywhere and our shares are also listed on the London Stock Exchange. So, we have a whole lot doing here.
Specifically who are your customers?
I did not need to tell you that, I will be happy to have you as one of them but I have a responsibility not to disclose our customers. But in all the segments of the market, they are in the retail segment of the market, the Small and Medium-scale Enterprises. They are also in the commercial and middle men sales segments; they are in the large corporate, multinational; in short, they are everywhere ranging from oil and gas, manufacturing, import-export, etc. We have a lot of customers and, we have well over 3 million of them.
There is a whole lot of thing we tend to give in this new environment but our brand is so important to us. Our brand goes with a whole lot of things; it goes with efficient service, technology, ethics, professionalism, sound management, strong corporate governance. So, those are the things we are selling. We may not say we are coming here to sell what has never been sold, but there are people who are looking forward to our being here and I think you can see how much a lot of the people responded to the call. I am sure we will do very well here.
How do you feel as the group CEO bringing your bank to another country?
I feel challenged because the stamp of approval given by the financial services authority for us to operate in the UK is a call to service. It requires that we continue doing what we are doing. You know it is said that the journey to the top may be very difficult, but it is very easy to come down, so for us that we are here means we need to do everything to ensure that we did not go down and that requires that we do everything that we are supposed to do right.
If you listen to me while I was speaking, this is a bank that will rather do the right thing and lose money than to do the wrong thing and make money. So, we are very happy and encouraged that the regulatory authority here, which is known to be very straight forward, has found us worthy of maintaining a presence here. So, our challenge is to ensure that we justify the confidence that they are having in us. And I can assure you that with my team and all the people that work with me, we will actually justify the confidence that they put in us.
What is the nature of your license?
We have the license to do everything that a bank can do in the UK other than retail. It is more like a wholesale banking, but in due course, we will also be applying to do retail if we feel that it is important for us.
We have projections to expand beyond this place, but you need to conquer where you are first and there is a whole lot to do in the UK, but our presence here actually gives us opportunities to expand to countries beyond mainland Europe even the United States, Asia, China and the rest of them. So that we are here actually give us a whole lot of opportunity to do business anywhere in the world.