Will Onyeali-Ikpe make Fidelity a Global Brand?

The Board of Directors of Fidelity Bank Plc recently announced the impending retirement of Mr. Nnamdi J. Okonkwo, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (MD/CEO) of Fidelity Bank Plc. According to the bank he will be stepping down from the Board of Directors of the Bank, with effect from December 31, 2020, upon completion of his contract tenure; in line with the bank’s governance policies.

However,its well known fact that the handover of batons would have been concluded well before that Dec.dateline.Because  the Board of Fidelity Bank while making known Okonkwo’s retirement had approved the appointment of Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, the current Executive Director, Lagos and South West Directorate as the MD/CEO Designate.

The approval of the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) was also obtained for the appointment.Thus the bank had informed that“To ensure a smooth and successful transition, Nnamdi Okonkwo will continue in his role as the MD/CEO until December 31, 2020, while Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe will assume office as the substantive MD/CEO by January 1, 2021”.It should however be recalled that the Chairman Board of Directors of Fidelity Bank Mr. Ernest Ebi will also be replaced by Mr Mustapha Chike-obi

He commended the MD/CEO for his significant contributions to the growth and development of the bank. “Fidelity Bank has enjoyed a very stable leadership since inception. These appointments underscore the bank’s robust human capital capabilities, governance and succession policies. We thank Nnamdi not only for his sterling performance but also for nurturing the new team and current crop of leaders to continue to steer the bank on its growth trajectory” Ebi stated.

Apparently,the aims of the owners of the bank is to bring in a new leader of the bank who can surpass Mr. Okonkwo’s  records at the bank. Okonkwo was appointed to the Board of Fidelity Bank in April 2012 as an Executive Director and was subsequently appointed the MD/CEO on January 01, 2014. He had implemented a Digital-led Strategy which led to significant growth across key performance matrix and increased market share.

Hence a situation where the Bank currently ranked 6th amongst Nigerian Banks on most performance indices. Some of his key achievements include PBT growth of 236% from N9.0bn to N30.4bn; RoE increase from 5.5% to 13.3%; Customer Deposits growth of 68% from N806.3bn to N1,352.3bn and Savings Deposit growth of 275% from N83.3bn to N312.1bn.Other notable achievements the out-going CEO notched up include Net Loans and Advances growth of 174% from N426.1bn to N1,165.8bn; Customer Base increase by 121% from 2.4 million to 5.3 million and Digital Banking penetration improvement from 1.0% to 50.1%, accounting for 28.4% of total fee income.

In addition, the Bank successfully accessed the local and international markets through the issuance of N30bn Corporate Bonds in 2015 and $400million Eurobonds in 2017 under his leadership.Of course,all these were achieved with the support of the the Lagos and Southern Directorate and their leadership as should.Mrs. Onyeali-Ikpe was appointed to the Board of Fidelity Bank in 2015 as an Executive Director and  oversaw the Lagos and Southwest Directorate. And as should be expected her recent promotion is because Fidelity Bank has benefited from her skill set as a banker.

Or perhaps they have plans for benefiting from other talents that is as yet undisclosed to outsiders to the bank-especially in these days when many Nigerian banks are waking up to the powers of Women or female entrepreneurs.Even in the small statement the bank sent out to announce Onyeali-Ikpe’s recent up-liftment they subtly let it be known that it was not just a beauty contest,saying”she led the transformation of the Directorate to profitability and sustained its impressive year-on-year growth across key performance metrics. Nneka has been an integral part of the current management team, responsible for the remarkable increase in the Bank’s performance in the last 5 years, with the area under her direct responsibility, contributing over 28% of the Bank’s PBT, Deposits and Loans”.

Going further ,the signed statement maintained that”Nneka has over 30 years of experience across various banks including Standard Chartered Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc and Citizens International Bank/Enterprise Bank, where she held several management positions in Legal, Treasury, Investment Banking, Retail/Commercial Banking and Corporate Banking. As an Executive Director at legacy Enterprise Bank Plc, she received formal commendation from the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), as a member of the management team, that successfully turned around Enterprise Bank Plc”.

As part of contributions to improving security of lives and property in Lagos Fidelity Bank Plc  donated N50 million to the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF).Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, the bank’s then executive director, Lagos and south-west, presented the cheque to Abdulrassaq Balogun, executive secretary of LSSTF, at a brief ceremony in Alausa, Ikeja, According to Onyeali-Ikpe, who commended the state government for its commitment to preserving public peace, and protecting lives and property  security is paramount to business success. As she said at the event  no activity can thrive in an atmosphere of uncertainty and insecurity.

She emphasised the for need for order for businesses to trive:.“We are encouraged to support this initiative and kudos must be given to the Lagos state government for the peace we are enjoying in the state today. We have over 80 branches, about 2,000 staff and millions of customers in the state. We are concerned about their safety all the time” she said.Balogun commended the bank for the gesture, saying Fidelity had been consistent in its support to the Fund from inception till date.

According to him the bank has donated a total of N175 million to the LSSTF since the fund was established.
“Thank you Fidelity Bank. We are most appreciative of this and what is most touching for us is your consistency. You have always come to our aid every year unsolicited,” he said.  Monday,October28,2019 Fidelity Bank Plc donated three security vans worth millions of naira to traders in Lagos to boost security in line with its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).The vans were donated to the traders under the umbrella of Auto Spare Parts and Machinery Dealers Association (ASPAMDA), Association of Progressive Traders (APT) and Balogun Business Association (BBA).

Speaking at the official handover ceremony in Lagos, Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo, the bank’s Managing Director, said that the donation was in fulfillment of its promise to the traders three months ago.Okonkwo going further said the bank during an engagement with the traders three months ago realised that their major challenge centred around security.

He noted that the bank decided to facilitate security arrangements by presenting the three security patrol vans to them.“We went over to ASPAMDA, BBA to see how we could serve them better and in that process a lot of issues came up which included issues about security in that area as well as infrastructure.

“We realised that security was a challenge when we made that visit and that also included the fact that the market does not have security patrol vehicles.“We did made a promise that we will support them with that and that is why today we are presenting these vehicles to facilitate their security arrangements in the various markets”, Okonkwo said.   He also said that the bank had opened a portal for children and wards of their customers in the market where their unemployed can  apply for jobs in the bank.

“As an institution, we do not take deposits and give loans alone, we realised from interaction that most of these customers have wards, children who have gone through university and are not still employed.So, we used the opportunity to create a portal for eligible candidates to apply and those that pass the recruitment exercise will be employed by the bank,” Okonkwo added.

Also speaking at the same event last October, Mrs Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe said  the gesture was a way of rewarding the traders for their loyalty over the years,adding  that the bank would continue to deliver to all its customers and stakeholders.Responding on behalf of the traders, Chief Daniel Oforkansi, ASPAMDA President, commended the bank for its kind gesture of giving back to the immediate community.Adding:“We are happy and it is a big challenge to other competitors in the financial industry as Fidelity Bank has done exceptionally well.What they exhibited today shows that they are ready to promote our businesses”.

Apparently,the promotion of the new CEO of Fidelity  Bank Plc is a sign of the great trust and confidence the board and management and stakeholders has on her,because such an advancement usually comes after a great and careful scrutiny by the powers that be, no matter the institution concerned.Its also one that comes with great expectations. It may be a hidden fact but its a truism that some stakeholders of the bank as the 6th top bank nationwide in some critical  indices expect the next helmsman to lead the way towards making Fidelity a global brand in its overall interest.Especially as Mr Okonkwo who had recently promised that the bank will become a continental brand is bowing out after an interesting period in the life of the bank.

The First appointed female CEO of Fidelity Bank, Onyeali-Ikpe holds Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from Kings College, London and has attended executive training programs at notable global institutions including; The Wharton School University of Pennsylvania; INSEAD School of Business; Chicago Booth School of Business;  Harvard Business School;London Business School and IMD amongst others.

one of the profiler of the bank stated”Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged commercial bank operating in Nigeria, with over 5 million customers who are serviced across its 250 business offices and various other digital banking channels.Focused on select niche corporate banking sectors as well as Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), Fidelity Bank is rapidly implementing a digital based retail banking strategy which has resulted in exponential growth in savings deposits over the last Six (6) years, with over 40 percent customer enrollment on the Bank’s flagship mobile/internet banking products.

”Quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Fidelity Bank Plc began operations in 1988 as a Merchant Bank. In 1999, it converted to Commercial Banking and then became a Universal Bank in February 2001. The current enlarged Fidelity Bank is a result of the merger with the former FSB International Bank Plc and Manny Bank Plc in 2005.Ranked amongst the top 10 in the Nigerian banking industry, Fidelity Bank has presence in the major cities and commercial centres in Nigeria and has correspondent banking relationships with a network of off-shore financial institutions including Citibank, ANZ London, Afrexim Bank, ABSA, Standard Chartered Bank, Standard Bank, US EX-IM Bank, and United States Agency for International Development etc.”Fidelity Bank is reputed for integrity and professionalism. It is also respected for the quality and stability of its Executive”.