Customer-focus key to navigating economic downturn – UMB CEO

  • assures bank will leverage brand equity to turn tide around

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of UMB Bank, Nana Dwemoh Benneh, has said that for financial institutions, in general, and banks in particular, to successfully navigate the current economic downturn, there is the need to place added emphasis on the needs of customers.

In his view, providing relevant products and services, will not only aid customers in their businesses during the lean periods but will guarantee that they channel capital to the institutions when the economy inevitable picks up.

Using UMB Bank as an example, he stated that the introspection done as part of measures marking its 50th anniversary this year showed that its dedicated offerings to customers throughout its transition from a corporate and investment-facing bank to one with a broad SME base, have ensured that the bank has outperformed the market consistently.

“When we took stock of what has kept this bank going for over five decades, we zeroed in on service. Throughout the years, UMB has always found a way of offering a unique kind of service; service that treats customers in a personal light and strives to churn out products and services that are unique to their circumstances,” he explained.

“We try to focus on long-term partnerships, and when our customers are impacted and we do not compromise on cushioning them. when the customer begins to thrive and you were there for them, they would, most often than not return to you with their excess fund and we know that ultimately, deposits are derived from successful businesses,” he added.

Consequently, Mr, Benneh further stated that the bank is committed to leveraging its evident brand equity, and the customer loyalty that comes with it, to build a stronger capital base and balance sheet. This, in turn, will serve to draw in more customers.

“We realised we have a lot of brand equity and customers who have remained loyal to the bank because of the service we offer them and the opportunities to build on this are massive. We have had to take some of the hits, but now, we are cleaning up, firming our risk assessment and restructuring to do more for our customers. We believe that as we continue to pursue our agenda with unique customer service, we will have enough customers waiting as we expand,” he stressed, adding that interactions with long-term customers leave him rejuvenated, as they continue to see the value offered by UMB Bank.

The bank remains committed to seeing the national economy transform through industrialisation, Mr. Benneh noted. He indicated that the Bank was one of the few in the market that fully supported and invested in the 1D1F initiative.  Mr Benneh said that at least 10 institutions under the government’s industrialisation drive – One District, One Factory (1D1F) – have received funding from UMB, and are close to being unveiled.

“We have at least 10 companies under the 1D1F programme, which are at various levels of operationalisation. We have been with them and we are starting to launch some of them and the expectation is that as we worked with them through the harder times, we will reap the benefits shortly,” he remarked.

As part of its strategy going forward, UMB Bank will deepen collaboration with FinTech providers, its CEO added. According to him, the bank holds a unique position in the ecosystem as it is well-placed to provide FinTechs with the infrastructure of scale that they lack.

“Consistent with our investment in technology, we will be partnering more with FinTechs and providing them with the infrastructure they need. We see our role as  multi-faceted, not one-dimensional; as the bank to the FinTechs, Aggregators and other stakeholders.”

UMB is an indigenous Ghanaian Bank, established in 1972. It was set up as a policy bank to provide the Ghanaian state with merchant banking capacity. The Bank has been part of major innovations in Ghanaian financial services, including sponsoring the Ghana Stock Exchange.

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