The role of banks in an economy has never been in doubt, however I wonder if the leadership of the Gold Coast ever thought that the Bank of Gold Coast, established in 1953, which later became Ghana Commercial Bank and now GCB Bank PLC, would in 70 years be such a pillar in Ghana delivering relevant and unrivalled financial solutions to individuals, SMEs, private and public sector entities no matter the economic or social climate.
This year, 2023, GCB Bank PLC (GCB) is 70 years old and over the seven decades, the Bank has proven to be a great example of resilience, relevance and solid performance. In all these, GCB stands out with a huge pedigree as a truly Ghanaian enterprise attending to Ghana’s needs and interests in the financial sector. GCB has therefore become systemic to the economy with ever-increasing relevance alongside its significant contributions and efforts.
According to Kofi Adomakoh, the Managing Director of GCB Bank, “the institution has remained steadfast in fulfilling its mandate as the go-to financial partner for industry, commerce, and the Ghanaian people for the past 70 years. Focused on supporting indigenous businesses and contributing to the growth of the Ghanaian economy, GCB has successfully competed against established foreign banks while staying true to its mission. Over the years, the bank has evolved into an indigenous institution with a strong heritage and reputation as a major player in a highly competitive sector. Despite the constantly changing landscape, GCB remains committed to innovation, keeping pace with modern trends and technological advancements, and leading by example.”
GCB has earned its position as one of Ghana’s top-tier banks not only through its 70 years of operation but also due to its impressive performance across all relevant metrics, coupled with a demonstrated commitment to staying current with developments in banking. The bank has made an unrivalled contribution to Ghana’s financial sector, resulting in a strong track record of success. Growing up, one could find a GCB branch in almost every location where a Post Office was present. This extensive nationwide branch network enabled GCB to play a crucial role in both its business development and the extension of financial services to people and businesses across Ghana. This contributed significantly to financial inclusion and the monetisation of the economy. Today, with 186 branches across all 16 regions, GCB’s network has played a significant role in the bank’s impressive performance.
“Our extensive footprints, strong and resilient balance sheet, well-diversified business and revenue mix and value-focused investments in risk management and digital technology position us to deliver superior solutions to clients and enable us to improve returns to our shareholders’, says Socrates Afram, GCB’s Deputy Managing Director, Finance. “GCB has returned Profit Before Tax (PBT) at a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 11 per cent since 2016, along with average annual deposit growth of 22.8 per cent, among other strong showing across multiple indicators. We remain the largest and the most liquid commercial bank in Ghana with a balance sheet size of GHS18.26 billion in 2021”, he added.
GCB is, however, more than just a profit-driven institution – it is a true Ghanaian brand with dominant Ghanaian ownership that has made significant contributions to the country. With over 3,500 Ghanaians employed across its footprints nationwide, GCB has consistently supported national development. In support, Eric Coffie, GCB’s Chief Digital & Marketing Officer says, “GCB Bank is a well-recognized brand in national policy and community development, with its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts making a substantial impact. The Bank has contributed to education, health, culture, tourism, sports, youth development, financial inclusion, poverty alleviation, and environmental initiatives. GCB is a domestic systemically important Bank, strategically positioned to provide pivotal financial services to the private and public sectors of our economy. It is a top-tier employer in Ghana’s financial sector and it plays a strategic role in supporting important urban and rural communities across the length and breadth of Ghana as well as key national development initiatives and projects such as the 1D1F industrialization initiative, providing funding and business advisory support to qualifying companies to ensure the success of the program. The bank also played a key role in the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme Business Support Scheme (CAPBUSS) and YouStart Programme, from which over a hundred thousand businesses and individuals benefited.”
“Additionally, GCB administers the GCB Real Estate Investment Trust (GCB REIT), a Rent-to-Own mortgage housing scheme for public sector workers aimed at reducing the housing deficit. GCB has maintained a policy of developing impactful and measurable CSR projects across the country, and it has been very successful in achieving this goal over its 70-year journey”, Mr. Coffie concludes.
In line with its truly Ghanaian nature and focus, GCB appreciates the need to offer support to keep the country’s agenda on course while seizing the opportunity to entrench its dominance. Little wonder the Bank was on hand to undertake the unprecedented single-day transaction in 2017, when it assumed select deposits and assets of two indigenous Banks, UT Bank and Capital Bank, under a Purchase and Assumption (P&A) transaction during the financial sector clean-up. The P&A transaction further strengthened GCB’s position with the largest client base, branch network and deposit book to help more Ghanaians and businesses meet their financial and banking needs.
All these efforts and successes have not been without challenges for GCB. For a bank with the largest branch network, employee population and, I dare say, operational infrastructure, GCB has shown great resilience and resourcefulness by remaining consistently top-tier. Emmanuel Odartey Lamptey, Deputy Managing Director, Operations at GCB explains, “our client-centric focus will remain the fulcrum that will drive further enhancements in operational resilience and internal control, continued improvement in our processes and leadership development and training within the Bank with the view to offering superior client experience. While we recognise the successes we have achieved over the years in delivering banking solutions to our clients through our nationwide branch network complemented by our digital offerings, we will continue to invest in technology to deliver dependable, efficient, digital-first and quality services to our clients.”
For seven decades, GCB’s successive strong leadership teams continue to stretch the frontiers of excellence with continuous improvement in risk management, corporate governance, customer experience and CSR within a competitive and congenial work environment that prioritises succession planning and talent development. These have paid off not just in performance but have led to recognition and acclaim. For example, in 2022 GCB was adjudged the number one financial services sector player in the Ghana Club 100, the coveted league of Ghana’s best 100 companies. The Bank also received the Best Bank in Ghana in Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Compliance and the Best Bank in Compliance in Africa (2019), Most Compliant Bank (2017/2018), and the Safest Bank in Ghana (2017) awards just to mention a few.
70 years of resilience, relevance and solid performance makes me pose the question about what the future holds for GCB, particularly in the face of the challenges confronting the domestic banking sector in the wake of the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP). “As the largest indigenous Bank and significant market player with substantial exposure to Cedi-denominated bonds, GCB is impacted however we have tweaked our strategies around the Bank’s resilience and strong risk management structures coupled with the experienced management and staff who remain committed to successfully manage the impact”, says Kofi Adomakoh in a reassuring tone. He expressed unwavering confidence in the Bank’s ability to successfully navigate through the current challenges and emerge as a more resilient institution, committed to supporting Ghana’s socio-economic development.
“With the backing of the Board and other direct stakeholders, the Bank’s management has launched an accelerated program and implemented effective strategies to safeguard and optimize its capital, strengthen its balance sheet, and generate sustainable profits and returns for its shareholders. For the years ahead, GCB shall remain focused and true to our promise of being your Bank for life through all the phases, delivering relevant and unrivalled solutions for your benefit”, he concludes.
For me, GCB is a truly Ghanaian icon partnering us through all the phases of life with a 70-year unblemished record of national support, I can only say, “Happy 70th anniversary, GCB and more wind in your sail”.
This opinion editorial was written by Amos Nunoo, a Sustainability and Financial Services Consultant