Obinna Chima

The Lafferty Group, one of the leading providers of advanced knowledge services recently released its Bank Quality Ratings.

The Lafferty Bank Quality Ratings is a unique new research and intelligence service that rates banks worldwide continuously for their quality. Over the years, there has been a correlation between a bank’s quality and its value to investors. So, the promoters of the ratings looked for the key factors that investors pay a premium for and rate each bank along them (key factors), to give an overall quality score. The group further explained that its approach to rating is to use publicly available information to judge against key quantitative and qualitative criteria such as strategy, culture, customer care, brand promise and financial performance.

The Sterling Bank Plc was rated 10th among 100 other quality banks from around the world in the latest release. The lender was also rated first in terms of quality in the Nigerian market, by the international firm.

According to the Chairman, Lafferty Group, Michael Lafferty, “banks that score well on Lafferty Bank Quality Ratings tend to trade at a premium price to their tangible book value.”

Lafferty had stressed the importance of retail banking, saying it is the foundation stone on which virtually global banks are built while local financial institutions now make future decisions, structure and success of retail banking in the regions. He urged the local banks to invest substantially in the vast retail and consumer banking market, pointing out that the world’s biggest banks built their financial empire from the mass market.

“The local banks are now fortunate in being able to benefit from the experience and indeed learn from the mistakes of banking operations in Europe and elsewhere, which now provided them the opportunity to leap-frog into a global phenomenon that has transformed consumer financial services over the past 25 years,” Lafferty said.

To the Managing Director/Chief Executive, Sterling Bank, Yemi Adeola, the bank has remained resilient in a turbulent operating environment and “Lafferty Bank Quality Ratings has provided an objective view on the fundamentals of our business, by rating us 10th in the world, top three in Africa (after Capitec and Barclays Africa) and the top bank in Nigeria.”

He added: “In spite both regulatory and macroeconomic headwinds, we have maintained strong capital and liquidity positions. I am pleased that an external and independent party has validated the bank’s reputation as a well- run, sustainable institution which further lays credence to our valuation in the equities market relative to competition.

“While we welcome the external validation of our business model, we remain committed to building a strong brand with a pervasive culture of innovation, good corporate governance and excellent service delivery.”

But an Executive Director, of the bank, Mr. Abubakar Suleiman, believes that the bank was able to achieve the feat because it strives to support its customers and also to partner other organisations to drive growth in the economy.

Sterling Bank recently collaborated with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and other associations to hold a Manufacturing Expo recently, in line with the bank’s efforts at promoting entrepreneurship in the country.

Suleiman said the bank was always willing to actively participate in initiatives that will encourage local manufacturers and other entrepreneurs as they are pillars to the industrial resurgence of the country. He also emphasised that the prevailing harsh economic climate in the country, especially the scarcity of foreign exchange, had made it imperative for organisations to assist the government in promoting local production of goods and services.

According to him, “The worst thing you can do is to throw money at the manufacturing sector. The fundamental thing is for entrepreneurs to have specific knowledge that will help them to grow their business. They should know about governments’ policies and how these affect them.”

Citing Made-in-Nigeria cables and wires, which he said have been proven to be superior to imported brands, he noted that many Nigerians tended to believe that locally produced goods were of poor quality even without having purchased and used such products. He revealed that in addition to the sponsorship of the expo, Sterling Bank was also planning to increase its support for the manufacturing sector.

Suleiman pointed out that the bank’s recent deal with leading indigenous auto firm, Innoson Motors Limited, was in line with its efforts to increase support for local manufacturers.

Furthermore, Suleiman advised banks in the country to invest more in capacity building initiatives for staff in order to enable them compete favourably both locally and internationally.

The Sterling Bank director, who hinged the accreditation of the bank’s training school by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) to the quality of facility put in place and products from the school, maintained that financial institutions must continue to see the need to put in place staff oriented policies that would encourage staff to be more committed, dedicated and result oriented.

Apart from providing a robust training programme and the competitive remuneration for its employees, Suleiman disclosed that the bank had also introduced an initiative that would provide an alternative career path and help them when they eventually leave the banking sector.

“At Sterling Bank we place value on our staff as they gracefully retire from the system. We have put a system in place to train those about to go on retirement on various programmes that would enable them stand on their own after retirement,” he said.

As a financial institution committed to career growth, staff fulfilment and accomplishments, Suleiman stated that the bank has also instituted a part owner scheme through which shares are allocated to all staff to promote a sense of ownership and belonging.

The bank, he said further, has introduced a lot of the initiatives, which include a cooperative society that allows members make contributions and obtain loans, a robust healthcare facility and a well-equipped crèche with modern facilities.

Corroborating Suleiman’s position, the bank’s Group Head, Human Resources Management, Mr. Olabisi Ogunwoye assured that Sterling Bank will continue to invest in staff training and development adding that every staff of the bank is trained yearly.