Bankers round up the year with activities -CIB (Ghana) in focus  

Chartered Institute of Bankers (Ghana), the professional body for Banking education in the country has once again marked its annual “Bankers Week” with a series of activities. The events started with the Graduation and Congregation Ceremony held on November 17, 2018. This year witnessed the graduation of sixty-seven (67) new Chartered Bankers (new ACIBs-Associates, Chartered Institute of Bankers) and fifty-four (54) persons with Certificates in Banking. These comprise students who passed the October/November 2017 and April 2018 examinations respectively.

It is worth congratulating the new graduands and encouraging them to live by the institute’s motto Honesty and Integrity.They deserve the honour since they endured the punches we consider normal of professional examinations when you have to re-sit for some of the papers on many occasions. Oouch! Oouch! By the time I passed the Lending (Credit Management paper), which was my last paper before qualifying about a decade ago, the puncheswere just many. Indeed, perseverance pays! I remember many people who could not withstand the puncheseven when some had obtained Masters degrees in business-related subjects to leverage on.

For the new students who have enrolled for either the professional or certificate courses, never give up on the way. The inspirational thoughts of an American Professor, Randy Pausch will come in handy. “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people. Consider any paper you’re unable to pass in your first attempts as the brick walls not meant to prevent you from obtaining the professional designation but prepare you better for the future.

In Latin, “mens sana in corpore sano” -“a healthy mind in a healthy body.” Bankers cannot afford to ignore regular exercises when the nature of the job explains why it is necessary. In that regard, the Institute scheduled a health-walk on November 24, 2018 to give its members the time to work out. Characterised by aerobics, this year’s health walk was well attended by members to shake off the revocation and the recapitalisation-related stress.

Banking Conference

In sequence, the 22nd National Banking Conference was held on November 27, 2018at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) under the theme “Building Confidence in the Banking Industry in Ghana.” The keynote address was delivered by the Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia who used the occasion to re-emphasise the crucial roles banks play in the economic development of a country. He bemoaned such contributory roles have been seriously affected in Ghana’s Banking sector with trust and confidence at its lowest ebb due to the regulatory infractions that led to the liquidation of seven banks within a year. He, therefore, commended the Bank of Ghana for the stringent measures it has taken to sanitise the sector.

The Vice President also indicated the determination of government to establish a Financial Stability Council (FSC) which will have the objective of bringing all the financial sector regulatory bodies (Bank of Ghana, Securities and Exchange Commission and the National Insurance Commission) and the Ministry of Finance together to collaborate towards minimising regulatory arbitrage (loopholes in each of these sectors).

Indeed, the Institute later honoured him with a special award for his significant contribution to the banking industry. He is also a fellow of the Institute. Apart from colleague professional bankers, the event was graced by distinguished persons including the Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr Ernest Addison, Mrs. Felicity Acquah, (the event chairperson) and the former Managing Director, Eximguaranty Company, Ghana Ltd, Dr Mrs. Ellen Hagan (CEO, L’AINE Services Ltd) and Mr. Daniel K. Mensah ,the Executive Secretary, Ghana Association of Bankers, who delivered a paper on behalf of Mr. Alhassan Andani,the Managing Director, Stanbic Bank(Ghana) and the  President of the Ghana Association of Bankers.

Annual General Meeting (AGM)

The Institute held its 53rd annual general meeting on 29 November 2018 at its premises in Accra, East Legon. It was a period of accountability and time for members to establish the facts behind the figures for the year 2017 and consider other important matters. At the end of the deliberations, members accepted the financial reports and by unanimous decision postponed elections (which should have been held in the year under review). This was influenced by the fact the Council of the Institute has made great progress towards the passage of the CIB Bill currently awaiting consideration at the second reading in parliament.

The reason for the postponement was also to give members an ample time to prepare for elections under the Bill (when passed into law) that will see significant changes in the composition of the Institute’s leadership. Nonetheless, members gave themselves up to the end of January 29, 2019, to review the request before parliament and then decide for elections thereafter. As a result of the decisions, Lady President, Reverend Mrs. Patricia Sappor (FCIB), the Vice-President Mr. P. C. N Sangber-Dery (FCIB) and the Treasurer, Mr. Festus Kwofie (ACIB) continue to be in office until the next elections are held.

Governor’s Day

Indeed, every year, the Institute organises its Annual Dinner Dance christened the “Governor’s Day” to enable a sitting Governor of the Bank of Ghana to talk about developments in the banking sector, the economy and the outlook for the following year. This year’s grand event was not exceptional, it came alive in the evening of Saturday, December 1, 2018, at the plush Marriott Hotel, Airport City, Accra. As a revered culture of the Institute, Managing Directors of Banks and other crème de la crème in the banking sector were also in attendance. It offered members the time to wine and dine and fraternise with the Governor. It was a swaag moment when the Lady President Sappor and the Governor, Dr Ernest Addison were on the dance-floor. It was, indeed, a splendid movement for bankers to make merry.

The event would have been described as the “bankers’ inchoate cheque” had the Governor not signed it off with his address. In his speech, the Governor minced no words regarding the challenges in the banking sector since he assumed office in April 2017, the key lessons therein and the reforms the Bank has instituted to restore the much-needed trust and confidence. The Governor was very emphatic on the fact that the financial system had reached a tipping point and we could not just have assumed business as usual. The cleaning up objective was to ensure the orderly exit of the insolvent banks from the industry with the view that any bank licensed and regulated by the Bank of Ghana is guaranteed to access your deposits when you need them and not to victimise wholly-owned Ghanaian entities as our detractors sought to impugn.

He further stated thatwhat has become very clear is the need for more regulatory and supervisory vigilance to properly safeguard the new banking system after the reforms. He re-echoed some of the new directives for the reforms. These include the Corporate Governance Directive, the Fit and Proper Person’s Directive, Capital Requirement Directive and the Cyber and Information Security Directive (CISD). It also came to light that the Bank of Ghana has provided the needed resources for the take-off of the Ghana Deposit Protection Corporation (GDPC). This is line with the Ghana Deposit Protection Act, 2016 (Act 931), as amended. In effect, the Ghana Deposit Protection Scheme will be operational by September 2019.

On her part, the Lady President Sappor made last minute overtures through a passionate appeal to government to establish equity support fund to shore up capital for banks that may not be able to raise the Gh¢400 million minimum stated capital before 31 December, 2018.The event also witnessed the conferment of fellowship (FCIB) to few deserving professionals. Congratulations! Madam Abena Pokuaa-Ackah and your colleagues.   In sum, the ‘Banker’s Week’ is worth its name on the Institute’s yearly calendar of activities and recognising as such.

Script written by a Chartered Banker. He has a flair for feature writing. Apart from his work schedules, he edits or proofreads corporate materials for his colleagues, executive managers including distinguished professionals working in various fields outside Banking. Through this column, his articles feature on third-party online media platforms in Ghana and outside.

Email: [email protected]

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