Herbert Wigwe, the Group Managing Director/CEO of Access Bank PLC, has been named the ‘African Banker of the Year’ at the 2020 African Banker Awards.
Wigwe was recognized for several socio-economic efforts, including leading Nigeria’s Private Sector COVID-19 response.
Under his leadership, Access Bank donated over $2.7 million to support the government in fighting the virus while championing the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) initiative in Nigeria.
He has also advocated other corporate climate change conscious business entities across the country to support the Federal Government of Nigeria towards the achievement of 25% unconditional and 40% conditional carbon emission reduction as agreed at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Receiving his award, Wigwe spoke of the need for organisations to embrace the institutionalization and practice of sustainable banking.
He said: “Financing and facilitating a sustainable future for Africa, and indeed the world is something I am most passionate about. Now, more than ever, Africa needs us to unite as we seek to improve access to health care, sustainable energy, finance, and improve the standard of living in our communities.
‘’I enjoin all stakeholders to be a part of the facilitation of a truly sustainable future for Africa. The future of our respective organisations and the future of generations to come depend on the alliances we form and the actions we take.
“Access Bank has taken steps towards facilitating the future I speak of, issuing the first-ever Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI) certified Green Bond in Nigeria, being a focal point in Nigeria’s fight against the novel Coronavirus through the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), among others.”
Through innovative banking initiatives and our underlying Sustainability drive, we will continue to create shared value for all our stakeholders, striking a balance between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility.’’
From his 10-year tenure as the Group Deputy Managing Director of the bank to assuming the role of the Group Managing Director, Herbert Wigwe has led the bank to grow its balance sheet by 1022% from $901mn in 2007 to $19.7bn in 2019, while pre-tax profits rose to $316mn in 2019 from $21m in 2007. The profit before tax recorded in 2007 was more than the cumulative profit made by the Bank in the previous 12 years. This also marked the beginning of what would be a six-year triple-digit growth trend.
In 2019, the Access Bank Group delivered a 26 percent increase in gross earnings of $1.8bn, from $1.4bn in 2018 comprising interest income growth to $1.4bn in 2019 from $1bn in 2018, a 41 percent growth from previous levels, despite pressures on risk asset growth within the period. Furthermore, the Bank recorded a non-interest income growth of $355mn (12% y/y). This net effect on operating income resulted in strong profit before tax of $316mn against N283mn in 2018. The strength of the performance reflects a growing franchise supported by digital analytics and improving customer service touchpoints led by Wigwe.
With Wigwe at the helm, Access Bank became the first African financial institution to win the Karlsruhe Sustainable Finance Awards for Outstanding Business Sustainability four consecutive times (from 2016 to 2019).
In recognition of his contributions towards driving sustainable business practices across the Banking industry, Wigwe was named the Sustainability Champion of the year at the Sustainability Enterprise and Responsibility Awards in 2017 and became the pioneering winner of the first-ever ‘Sustainability Leader of the Year, Africa’ award at the Karlsruhe Sustainable Finance Awards 2018 in recognition of his efforts towards transforming Africa for Sustainable development. In 2019, Wigwe was appointed to the Board of the HIV Trust Fund of Nigeria.