UBA at 75: Celebrating Banking Excellence

Chidiebere Nwobodo

Greatness is nothing but repeated excellence over a period of time, leaving indelible footprints on the sands of time. Excellence is like perfection, it is not a destination but a journey. This is the success story of United Bank for Africa (UBA), one of the biggest banking conglomerates in Africa.

At 75 years of existence, UBA Group has come a long way of proficiency in financial service delivery in Africa and beyond. It began operations in 1949 as then British and French Bank Limited (BFB), and was later incorporated as a limited liability company in 1961.

United Bank for Africa, has been through thick and thin of banking revolutions, reforms and metamorphoses, in the last seven decades and half of operations. This journey has not been without turns and crossroads, like every adventurous voyage.

Its most consequential seismic shift occurred in 2005 during banking consolidation supervised by then Charles Soludo-led Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which saw the merger of the United Bank for Africa and defunct Standard Trust Bank, evolved into UBA Group. It was a fruitful marriage that has yielded beautiful offsprings.

As part of the resultant effects of the merger deal, the name—UBA was retained, while the then logo of Standard Trust Bank, was adopted as the new trademark of the new UBA Group. This historic development saw Tony Elumelu emerge as the new chief executive officer of the reinvigorated financial institution.

At 34 years of age, Tony Elumelu was already the youngest chief executive officer in Nigeria. So he was not new to taking on big responsibility and executing herculean leadership roles, albeit excellently. He displayed this dexterity by navigating the tectonic estuary of the merger, to leading one of the biggest financial institutions in Africa.

With Tony Elumelu at the driver’s seat, coupled with his eagle-eyed focus on the vision statement of United Bank for Africa (UBA), which is: “To be the undisputable leading dominant financial services institution in Africa”, he began a bullish run in the bank which saw its branches grow exponentially across Africa and beyond.

His ten-year stint as chief executive officer of UBA Group, positioned the bank as one of the leading financial institutions in Africa, aligning with its mission statement: “To be a role model for African businesses by creating superior value for all stakeholders, abiding by the utmost professional and ethical standards, and by building an enduring institution.”

United Bank for Africa (UBA), with over seven decades wealth of experience in retail and corporate banking, innovative cross-border payments, trade finance and investment banking, has been on trajectory of progress in the last seventy-five years of operations. Its core values are hedged on Enterprise, Excellence and Execution.

Headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria’s financial capital, UBA has been providing superior financial services to small businesses, corporations, governments, institutions, and individuals, across the globe. It has done a lot in financially stimulating both formal and informal sectors in Africa in more than seven decades of exceptional services.

With over 45 million active customers, spread across 24 countries and 4 four continents, UBA Group was first Nigerian bank to be listed on the Nigerian Exchange Group: a leading financial market infrastructure provider in Africa. The only African bank with a deposit-taking license in the United States of America.

Having a banking veteran cum entrepreneurial maven in the person of Tony Elumelu, CFR, as chairman and another competent financial expert, Oliver Alawuba, as its Group managing director and chief executive executive, it is no surprise while UBA Group has been adding so many feathers vis-a-vis leading in banking innovations in Nigeria and across Africa, because everything rises and falls on leadership.

With 18 trillion naira depositors’ fund and 45 million customer base, UBA Group is ahead of its peers in technological innovations. The Group was the first to introduce mobile banking in Nigeria. The advent of mobile banking in Nigeria has revolutionized financial services in the country. It has made banking services easier and accessible.

It brought financial services to our rooms, offices, etcetera, which is increasing financial inclusion in the continent and beyond. The birth of financial technology (fintech) and its gains cannot be properly evaluated without giving credit to UBA Group for pioneering mobile banking in Nigeria.

In its quest to take financial services to our doorsteps, United Bank for Africa (UBA) was the first financial institution in the country to install Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) across the nation. The impact of this initiative in the nation’s financial sector cannot be overemphasized.

As today, the banking conglomerate has over 350,000 Point of Sale (PoS) terminals, 2000 ATM stations, 20 million cardholders, 1000 business offices, all powered by over 25,000 hardworking staff, committed towards the vision and mission statements, respectively, of the Bank.

As it marks it 75 years of excellent financial service delivery, as a Nigerian, I am proud of United Bank of Africa! 75 years of upholding professionalism and redefining standards, is not a walk in the park neither is it a one-off success. We are not only celebrating banking excellence but its longevity of success in the midst of challenging operating environments.

When Americans brag with financial behemoths like JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Europeans pride in leviathans like Barclays, Deutsche Bank AG, Africans glow in the milestone UBA Group has accomplished in the past 75 years. All thanks to Tony Elumelu, CFR, the banking enigma cum shrewd investor, who has not only kept the vision alive but has elevated to Olympic height.

Congratulations to UBA Group for making proud your customers, shareholders and Africans in general. Truly, 75 years of excellency is not 75 months, let alone 75 days. It worth cerebrating. With the quality of leadership in the Bank, the future of the financial giant is bright— better days are ahead.

*Chidiebere wrote via chidieberenwobodo@yahoo.com

Related Articles