It is an undeniable fact that, the most important thing which has sustained most businesses in Ghana for decades is TRUST. As a client, the most crucial consideration in the selection of a financial partner for any business and/or transaction is the level of trust and integrity of the institution and how credible they are. Though there are several banks in Ghana who are doing extremely well in various aspect of the business, I would like to share my opinion on why Standard Chartered Bank Ghana (SCB) is the most credible bank in Ghana.
Indeed, I wasn’t too surprised when the Governor of the Central Bank of Ghana perfectly summed it up during the opening of the new magnificent Head Office building in October 2018 and saying “there are a number of factors that explains the success of Standard Chartered Bank in the Market, the provision of better quality products and services, competitive pricing and enhanced access by customers on terms structured to meet their needs and a culture rooted in uncompromising respect for the highest standards and integrity, and that are essential for public confidence, and they are doing so we believe in an atmosphere of fair competition in a stable, predictable and liberal regulatory framework. We urge other banks to emulate these strong standards especially the strength of its corporate governance”.
Again, in 2018 when the financial sector was recovering from potential crises, a technical team of analysts at Konfidants, a management consulting company based in Accra, Johannesburg and Geneva used a credmap technology to access 30 of Ghana`s universal banks and SCB was adjudged the most credible.
Why is the bank credible?
What does it mean to be credible? Credible is an adjective and it is the state of being able to be believed; convincing and/or in other words capable of persuading people that something will happen or be successful.
In using CAMELS* methodology of assessing financial institution`s strength, the quality of management is the most important element. Corporate governance was one major issue that led to the collapse of major banks in Ghana and nearly eroded investor confidence. No wonder the Governor of the Bank of Ghana urged other banks to emulate the strength of SCB`s corporate governance.
The Board is the ultimate decision-making body for all material matters of the bank with the responsibility of providing leadership, setting strategy direction and monitoring management to ensure the effective execution of the strategy, financial performance, approving any changes to capital, ensuring sound system of internal controls and a robust risk management framework.
The quality of the SCB board is simply unquestionable and amazing. The board is diverse, with a good mix of experience and skills. According to the 2018 Annual report, the board had 8 members comprising 5 non-executive directors and 3 executive directors. With an average age of 56 years, each board member has varied expertise ranging from Economy, Banking and Financial Services, Law and Accountancy.
Gone were the days where Board Chair was the same as the Chief Executive Officer; however, these roles are kept separately to further enhance effective corporate governance. The bank can also boast of highly experienced 18-member management team with impeccable experience matching the various units they are managing in their respective segments.
Their Brand Promise -Here for Good!
As the old age saying goes, you can’t teach old dogs’ new tricks. What I find intriguing about this promise is that, it re-enforces the bank’s commitment that it is here to stay and do business in the long term; aimed at transforming lives from generation to generations. Standard Chartered has been in Ghana spanning over 120years with rich heritage and legacy. The bank has focused on harnessing and delivering value for shareholders, client and drive economic development. The bank moved into a new ultra-modern head office building in October 2018. The 13-storey magnificent office is arguably the best office with flexible workspace I have seen in Ghana; and I have visited quite a few buildings in line with my duties.
Picture1. New Head Office building in Accra.
Strong Financial Strength
The bank’s credibility cannot only be projected from the quality of the management team and board of directors, but also from the strong financial performance posted over the last five years. It is recognized among its peers as a high performing bank in Ghana. What every client/depositor looks out for is being able to withdraw funds as and when required. With prudent financial management in place, the bank has shown resilience, strong balance sheet is highly leveraged.
In 2017/2018 when most customers were jittery about the future of financial sector in Ghana the bank demonstrated to its clients, that it had high capital adequacy ratio hovering around 28.59% with its Tier 1 capital in excess of Ghs911.2m (2017: Ghs726m). Analysing the bank from a five year trend, the bank has increased its Net own funds by 135% from Ghs387.2m in 2014.
Again, in midst of all the re-capitalization exercise that was undertaken by the Bank of Ghana to ensure that all the banks in Ghana meet the Ghs400m minimum capital requirement by 31st December 2018, the bank paid Ghs140m (representing 20% of income) as dividend to shareholders. The bank further increased payment of final dividend per share to from Ghs0.35ps in 2014 to Ghs1.04p in 2018. This was the time when most corporate institutions including some banks failed to pay dividends for the period ending 2018.
Source: SCB Annual Report, page 128
Technology driven Bank
Being in Ghana for the last century, one would have expected such a bank to have bricks and mortar branch in every corner of Ghana. However, the bank can boast of only 23 branches with 70-80% branches located in Accra. The bank has really demonstrated that banking is not all about branches but rather with the right technology and in partnership with the right Financial Technology firms (Fintechs), they can remain competitive and relevant in the ever-changing landscape of Ghana.
Another key consideration for being top of the credibility index is the level of security on the bank’s systems and platforms. In the wake of attacks on some banks’ systems, SCB continues to invest to improve existing technology and strengthen cyber security. Over the last few decades I have known SCB, I can confidently say that the bank is a well-controlled institution with robust technology to support business growth.
High Quality Product and Service Delivery
To meet the demanding needs of clients, the bank has aimed to have regular sessions with stakeholders to enable the incorporation of clients’ needs in the development of new solutions and enhancement of existing ones.
In view of the above, I wasn’t so surprised when the bank stormed the Ghanaian market with its flagship digital bank- SC Mobile App. Industry first digital banking solution revamped to include over 70 client journey that would traditionally have been completed at the various branches on the SC Mobile App. The bank has enabled clients to complete all these requests without visiting a branch. New clients can just open account online without visiting branches. Isn’t this amazing?
Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) drive
SCB is among a few corporate institutions that have embedded Divestiture and Inclusion (D&I) in their corporate strategy and I draw huge inspirations from their efforts to create an inclusive environment that allows their employees to bring their uniqueness to bear in making a difference. The Bank’s partnership with the Federation of the Disabled in the quest to meaningfully contribute to the society has delivered workshops for students with disability for the last five years.
No wonder on 4th December 2018, the Ghana Federation of Disability Organization presented an award to the bank which read as ‘In recognition of your outstanding contribution to the national effort to promote the employment of the persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in the formal sector through sponsorship of career fairs which have exposed persons with Disability and employers in Ghana to each other’. The bank can boast of about 10 PWDs who working in various fields as frontline executives, Information Technologies and Operations (ITO) among many others.
High Integrity and Professionalism of employees
Undoubtedly, banking with a financial institution should not be limited to whether funds are safe but it`s important to know the personnel and managers for whom you are entrusting your funds to. A lot of banks in Ghana have had the integrity of their staff challenged and questioned at the law courts in one way or the other.
Not to say the staffs of Standard Chartered are angels sent from God, however, the bank has always invested in staff to ensure high level of professionalism in the discharge of their daily duties. The bank also provides comprehensive training to staff on Risk, Controls, and Financial Crime among others. Amazingly, it got to a point in time in Ghana where Six (6) Banks in Ghana had Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) who were all former employees of the bank and were ‘StanChart trained’. It is interesting to hear that the bank is regarded as a training school for the banking sector in Ghana.
Being credible cannot be achieved overnight; it takes time and effort to nurture such an achievement. I therefore employ the managers of the bank to hold and sustain the gains over the last century; continue to deliver world class and quality services to cherished customers. I also admonish clients of the bank to continue to build trust and hold the bank in high esteem and become ambassadors of the bank.
Long live Standard Chartered and God bless Ghana!
Credit: SCB 2018 Annual report. CAMELS refer to Capital Adequacy, Asset Quality, and Management, Earnings, Liquidity and Sensitivity analysis.
Disclaimer: The views expressed are personal views and doesn’t represent that of the bank or the institution the writer works.
About the writer
Carl Odame-Gyenti is a third year PhD (Financial Management) candidate, a Finance and Telecom enthusiast, managing local and global Investors, Intermediaries, Non-Bank Financial and Financial Institution relationships with an international bank in Ghana. He has embarked on several international assignments in London, Singapore, Dubai, Kenya, Nigeria and Southern African markets. He has passion for youth and community development. Contact: Carl.firstname.lastname@example.org, Cell: +233-204-811-911