19th Apex- RCBs managers’ conference discusses change in a crisis

Yaw Sapong, Head of OFISD at the Bank of Ghana (left) and Kojo Mattah, MD of Apex Bank (right) conferring with each other during the opening of the conference

Apex Bank and the general managers of all rural and community banks across the country have held a two-day annual managers’ conference at the Volta Serene Hotel in Ho.

This year’s conference which is the nineteenth in the series is on the theme The Speed of Change. The conference held with a primary objective to offer solutions to challenges in the rural banking sub-sector brought together general managers to discuss the current happenings as well as challenges especially after the banking sector clean up and the disruptions of the business environment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The conference featured consultants with the relevant expertise who have excelled in their chosen field to expand on the chosen theme in the area of Marketing, Human Resource, Technology and Processes among other relevant topics which has gained worldwide attention because of the disruptions the novel COVID-19 has brought to the entire world.

Addressing participants at the opening ceremony of this year’s conference, the Managing Director of ARB Apex Kojo Mattah was happy to announce the current state of ICT infrastructure being used by the rural and community banks which is helping the rural banks to develop innovative customer-centric products for their customers.

He was also happy to announce the modest but remarkable changes in the sector’s service delivery philosophy, since service quality has the propensity to gain competitive advantage in the marketplace.

This, according to the MD of Apex Bank has resulted in the steady growth in the deposits of RCBs from GH¢2.85 billion at the end of 2017 to GH¢3.88 billion at the end of 2019.

“Despite the impact of COVID-19, we have also seen some modest level of growth from GH¢4.03 billion at the end of March 2020 to GH¢4.32 billion at the end of June 2020,” he stressed.

He added that orientation of General Managers has remarkably improved and Apex Bank is optimistic that the momentum for progressive results-oriented change in the RCB-sub-sector would be maintained in the coming years.

Mr Mattah announced that the Data Centre upgrade which has begun in earnest and is due for completion by end of November 2020, which would guarantee faster and improved real time communication between RCBs and Apex Data Centre as well as the Disaster Recovery Site.

The Data Centre upgrade is also expected to support a smooth operation of the Mobile Money Interoperability, which would offer rural banks’  esteemed customers the opportunity to perform enhanced services on their phones and through stand-alone Points of Sale (PoS) devices, which will help the banks to improve their commission and fee earning capacity.

The MD of Apex Bank reiterated the challenges and difficulties the rural banks have to be confronted with describing it as very stifling and unprecedented in the history of the world as the most challenging year for nations, businesses, and individuals.

These disruptions came directly on the heels of a resolution of the banking sector crisis, which brought mixed results in many quarters, the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has shaken the foundations of businesses all over the world.

On his part, the Head of Other Financial Institutions Supervision Department, OFISD of the Bank of Ghana, Yaw Sapong said the clean-up has restored sanity in the banking sector, creating an opportunity for surviving institutions to reposition themselves for growth and better deliver on financial intermediation objectives.

He however added that the Covid-19 pandemic has severely disrupted normal business relations as well as financial service delivery.

Mr Sapong is of the view that these issues require appropriate institutional and industry level responses to navigate the tides and to speed up post-crisis recovery which makes the theme for this year’s conference “The Speed of Change” most appropriate and relevant.

He further stressed that the Covid-19 pandemic is a wakeup call for industry players to review ways of doing things and pursue rapid transformation even for small and informal financial intermediaries.

“We must position our institutions to create a robust financial sub-sector that can better respond to any future crisis,” he stressed.

Mr Sapong drew manager’s attention to today’s business environment being very fluid, rapidly changing as a result of persistent technological innovation.

This according to him is increasing awareness and sophistication of customer desires, competition among a broad range of industry players, and constantly changing laws and regulations.

He finally advised managers to constantly develop their capacity to anticipate change, appreciate the present circumstances, and the ability to respond appropriately because the world today is defined by the “speed of change” in every facet of life.

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