Irabor: Investors Now More Conscious of their Financial Health


The Head of FBNQuest Wealth Management, Debbie Irabor, in this interview speaks on the need to embrace wealth management initiatives so as to be prepared for unexpected circumstances and to save for rainy days. Hamid Ayodeji brings the excerpts:

Can you give us a background to wealth management and why this is an ideal investment solution for high net worth individuals to grow and maximise wealth?

Wealth management is the consultative process of providing advisory financial services and solutions which includes financial planning, to ultra-high net worth and high net worth clients. It is not a one size fits all service, so we have to understand the investment needs and life-time financial goals of our clients to enable us provide the appropriate services and solutions. The primary objective of the Wealth Management division of FBNQuest Merchant Bank is to provide the holistic approach that ultra-high net worth and high net worth clients and their families are increasingly looking for by helping them sustain, grow, manage, and transfer their wealth across generations.

What are some of the wealth management solutions available within FBNQuest Merchant Bank and how long has the Wealth Management division of FBNQuest Merchant Bank been in operations?

FBNQuest Merchant Bank was borne out of the 100 per cent acquisition of Kakawa Discount House Ltd by FBN Holdings Plc, and Kakawa’s subsequent merger with FBN Capital Limited. As such, the Wealth Management division dates back to over 25 years, from the inception of both institutions whose businesses were merged to become FBNQuest Merchant Bank. The bank leveraged the combined strengths of both institutions, to offer bespoke Wealth Management financial services and solutions to meet the investment needs and life time financial goals of clients. The experience gained from serving our clients over the years has enriched our understanding of their need for preservation, growth, and transfer of their wealth to future generations. We are client-driven in our approach, so we create the atmosphere and flexibility that makes it easy for our clients to enjoy their wealth anywhere in the world, in an efficient and cost- effective manner.
To enable us achieve this, we work very assiduously with our team of in-house experts to bring our clients Wealth Management financial services & solutions anchored on the pillars of Private Banking, Transactional Banking, Fiduciary Services, and Extended Services. Our Private Banking solution provides clients the opportunity to maximize the yield on their investments through our FBN Premium Deposits which is a fixed term investment at competitive and fixed yield, and tenor. Our FBN Easy Retirement Package was designed to help clients meet their needs for estate planning, and protect their loved ones from unwanted third parties’ access to their wealth upon the client’s demise. We also offer Cash Management services through our Liquidity Management Service account, and provide opportunities for investments in Government Securities (i.e. Treasury Bills and Bonds).
Through our Transactional Banking services and solutions, we process Domestic and International Payments for invisible trades e.g. Medical & School Fees on behalf of our clients.
We provide opportunities for foreign currency investments in Eurobonds – Sovereign & Corporate, Domiciliary accounts, and Fixed Deposits, and Commercial Papers issued by highly rated companies. Furthermore, we leverage our Corporate Banking business to meet the short-term financing needs of the businesses and corporate entities of our UHNW and HNW clients when required.

We offer our Fiduciary Services and solutions through our Trustee business, which provides the platform for Private Trusts and Estate Planning services to meet the needs of our clients. We leverage the strengths of our subsidiaries, FBNQuest Asset Management and FBNQuest Securities to provide Discretionary and Non-Discretionary Portfolio Management, Mutual Funds, and Equities Brokerage services.

We also provide Extended Services by creating and providing opportunities like the Wealth Management: Customer Forum, an event where our clients can connect with, and engage experts in the Health & Wellness industry, and also through sponsorships of sporting events. We leverage every engagement we have with our clients to add value, and provide a holistic view of happenings in the local and global financial markets. I believe this was evident from the activities at our Customer Forum today.

Looking at the trend in the financial industry over the years, would you say a lot of people are aware of the different wealth management solutions available and the long and short term benefits of managing wealth?

The fact remains that the changing needs of clients and demographics have the greatest impact on the development of the Wealth Management industry over time, in terms of products and service offerings. Let’s take a look at the following factors: Digitalisation has changed the Wealth Management industry, providing various platforms for Wealth Management service providers to disseminate information on their products and services. In addition to that is the fact that we are now in an era of better informed investors. Every Wealth Management or prospective Wealth Management client irrespective of age, has access to financial information through various communication channels and data sources. As such, investors have become more conscious of the state of their financial health and the investment opportunities available to them. This is opening up more people to the concept of investing, and it also makes the future of the Wealth Management industry brighter.

As a wealth management organisation in Nigeria, how are you ensuring customised solutions are provided to help investors achieve their financial goals?

Client Experience will determine their level of loyalty to an organization. Wealth Management clients expect unique, tailor-made services suitable to their individual investment needs and life time financial goals. They care for a trusted and experienced professional who can interpret and explain the impact of the changes in the environment, and propose strategies and solutions to enable them make informed decisions. To enable us help our clients achieve their objectives, we collaborate with our team of in-house experts to bring our clients customised Wealth Management financial services and solutions. It is not just about the products and services offered, but about the overall experience of the customer pre and post sales service. This underscores the role and importance of an individual or one-on-one approach in FBNQuest Wealth Management based on trust and long-term relationship between the Relationship Manager and the client.

What role is FBNQuest playing to ensure more Nigerians are educated on the importance of wealth management and investments?

At FBNQuest Wealth Management, we identify opportunities for, and provide Financial Advisory Services and solutions through our Retirement and Financial planning sessions and solutions to major oil and gas producing and service companies, and other major companies across the different sectors of the economy. We also offer these services to some associations of Nigerian professionals abroad to enable individuals meet their life time investment goals. On a wider level, the bank is very supportive of the CBN in its financial literacy drive across the nation, going to areas that are not our target market as a Merchant Bank to perform financial enlightenment exercises. The market information provided by FBNQuest research team has been positively impactful on both individuals and companies. In addition, there are radio and newspaper financial enlightenment series provided by some FBNQuest entities (for example, the FBNQuest Trustees Legacy Series radio show). We leverage every engagement we have with our clients to add value, and provide a holistic view of happenings in the local and global financial markets.

With the recent restriction of individuals and local private firms from participation in open market operations, do you think it may influence individuals’ wealth management plans?

The decision by any Wealth Management client to invest in any financial instrument is driven by their investment objectives, risk appetite, and life time financial goals. FBNQuest provides a bouquet of products and services offerings both in local and foreign currencies for Wealth Management clients to invest in, and maximize their earnings. As such, in my opinion, the recent restriction on OMO by the CBN will not influence an individual’s wealth management plans.

The investment banking landscape both locally and internationally is beginning to embrace innovative technologies in the provision of varying financial solutions. How is the wealth management business within FBNQuest maximising technology for internal operations?

The financial industry is one of the pioneers of digital transformation and digitisation. However, if you look back, things remained relatively traditional for some areas of the industry like Wealth Management and Private Banking until a few years ago. FBNQuest Wealth Management has embraced technology especially in terms of automation, digital integration, and data gathering to create personalized and dynamic end-to-end experiences for our clients, and to enhance relationship management and marketing efforts. We continually rethink and reshape our approach to how we can use technology to our advantage especially, to accommodate clients’ needs and the next generation of investors, the millennials. This is critical to providing superior customer experience and consequently, increase customer loyalty.

How do you think the Wealth management forum will help your business in the area of expertise development and value added services for your clients?

The theme of our recent Wealth Management customer forum, ‘Our Customers, Our Strength’, reflects the special place of our customers in the life of our organisation. Our clients are experienced, knowledgeable, widely travelled and well informed investors who have distinguished themselves in their respective professions and careers, both locally and internationally. They are deeply loyal to the FBNQuest brand, and provide us constant and honest feedback. We are honoured that they chose FBNQuest, as their Wealth Management financial services and solutions provider. All the feedback received from them at the forum today will be reviewed, analysed, and implemented appropriately for enhanced expertise and service delivery.