Strong Financial System Vital in Promoting Economic Growth, Says Heritage Bank CEO

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By Obinna Chima

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Bank Plc, Mr. Ifie Sekibo stressed that a strong financial system plays vital roles in financing economic projects and activities that can promote economic growth and development.

The bank CEO also pointed out that efficient provisioning of credit has a positive effect on output and employment opportunities while a low level of financial development and its attendant inefficient private sector credit system distorts economic growth.
Sekibo said this in a speech he presented on the occasion of the Institute of Credit Administration’s (ICA) award held in Lagos recently. To this end, he noted the banking sector, of which Heritage Bank is part of, helps to make credit available by mobilising surplus funds and channelling such funds in form of credit to investors who have brilliant ideas on how to create additional wealth in the economy but lack necessary capital to execute the ideas.

He stressed that the present challenges being faced by the economy comes with opportunities for investment in various segments of the economy.  According to Sekibo, Heritage Bank combines the age long wisdom of traditional banking conservatism with innovative technology, partnership and market intelligence to drive its business.
“Heritage Bank currently serves its customers through our over 160 bank branches which we call ‘Experience Centres’ all over Nigeria. The bank is structured to cater to the needs of customers across various segments and these are served by our business groups.

“We also utilise various strategic alliances and partnerships with international institutions all over the world to ensure that we provide financial services to all our customers. Our recently concluded business combination with the erstwhile Enterprise Bank Limited has further expanded our franchise and provided an opportunity to reach more customers with the Heritage Brand,” he said.
Furthermore, he noted that the Nigerian corporate market consists of large locally and foreign owned/multinational companies with well-defined organisational structures and turnover over above the MSME threshold of N500 million in assets. These corporate organizations cut across various sectors of the economy raging from Telecommunications, Oil and Gas, Transportation, Manufacturing, Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), Real Estate and Construction.  Corporate entities usually have a range of financing needs such as treasury services, investment banking and advisory services, credit financing and international trade services. These are sophisticated operators which require sound and up to date financial solutions to meet their needs locally and internationally.

The operations of this segment of Nigeria’s economy constitutes a large portion of credit requirements from the banking sector and continues to remain a key contributor to policy formulation and various economic round tables across the country, he said.
“The scarcity of foreign exchange currency has dwindled import businesses in the country. This has made most importers delve into export. According to economists, export business is one of the ways to get out of the current economic situation of the country.

“The bank has also identified opportunity in this space which is as a result of the intervention fund of up to N500 billion that has been provided by the government through the Nigerian Export Import Bank (Nexim). This fund is solely for export related businesses. The scheme gives room for start-ups and existing businesses to participate in the export business,” Sekibo explained.