Sterling Bank: Where customer is king

Sterling Bank has over the years evolved from Nigeria’s pre-eminent investment banking institution to a fully-fledged commercial bank. Under the able leadership of Yemi Adeola, it has grown in leaps, putting smiles on the faces of its stakeholders with customer’s oriented services. ODUNEWU SEGUN writes

WITH a strong national presence, Sterling Bank is one of Nigeria’s fastest growing banks with an asset base above N799 billion, shareholders’ funds in excess of N95 billion, 187 operational centres and over 800 ATMs across the country, it sits comfortably among most profitable institutions in the country.

The bank which prides itself as the“one customer bank” because of its principles of focusing on every customer’s individual needs has never disappointed its shareholders despite the difficult macro-economic conditions in the country.

It has consistently grown its asset base and profits. In the first quarter of 2016, its profit after tax leapt by 25 per cent from N3.1 billion to N3.9 billion year-on-year while the pre-tax profit rose by 14.1 per cent from N3.5 billion to N4.0 billion. Most importantly, shareholders’ funds increased marginally by 4.3 per cent from N84.7 billion to N88.4 billion while total assets excluding contingent liabilities advanced by 2.1 per cent from N824.5 billion to N841.9 billion.

Three months later, Sterling Bank results for half year ended June 30, 2015 showed its consistency despite the economic downturns. Its gross earnings rose by 11.45 per cent from N49.386bn to N55.042bn

The bank’s profit before tax was up by 1.43 per cent from N5.970bn in the first half of the 2014 financial year to N6.055bn in the review period, while its profit after tax jumped by 6.39 per cent from N5.073bn to N5.425bn.The bank’s balance sheet came in stronger with shareholders’ funds increasing by 4.4 per cent to N88.4bn as against N84.7bn in 2014.Total assets (excluding contingent liabilities) increased by 1.2 per cent to N834bn as against N824.5bn in 2014.

Speaking on this consistent growth, Managing Director of the Bank, Mr. Yemi Adeola said the Sterling bank prioritised performance optimization and operational efficiency which has led to a 260-basis point’s improvement in cost-to-income ratio.

He assured customers and stakeholders that the bank would complete the ongoing implementation of a number of technology-led service improvement initiatives across core and subsidiary systems in order to improve operating efficiency and employee productivity.

“Furthermore, we remain confident that we will complete the final tranche of our capital program in order to build additional resilience in view of the prevailing conditions while also strengthening earnings capacity,” he added.

Sterling bank didn’t get this far on a platter of gold. It was originally incorporated in 1960 as Nigeria Acceptances Limited (NAL). The bank was licensed as Nigeria’s first merchant bank in 1969. Consequent to the indigenization decree of 1972, the Bank became fully government owned and was managed in partnership with Grindlays Bank Limited, Continental International Finance Company Illinois and American Express Bank Limited between 1974 and 1992.

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In 1992, the Bank was partly privatized and listed as a public company on the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE). Eight years later, in 2000, the federal government sold its residual interest in the bank, effectively making it a fully privatized institution.

In January 2006, as part of the consolidation of the Nigerian banking industry, NAL Bank completed a merger with four other Nigerian Banks namely Magnum Trust Bank, NBM Bank, Trust Bank of Africa and Indo-Nigeria Merchant Bank (INMB) and adopted the name ‘Sterling Bank’ name. The merged entities were successfully integrated and have operated as a consolidated group ever since.

In line with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s repeal of universal banking, Sterling Bank now operates as a national commercial bank, disposing of holdings in subsidiaries and affiliate companies. In mid-2011, Sterling Bank Plc acquired the franchise of the erstwhile Equitorial Trust Bank.

Sterling Bank over the years concentrated on retail banking with several initiatives such as Agent Banking to attract the underbanked/unbanked, Micro-credit for youths through Social Lender, Commercial banking for which the bank has won several awards, especially in the development of agriculture and Corporate banking that covers several sectors including Telecommunications, Power and Steel, Food and Beverages among others.

It also caters to High Net Worth individuals through their Private Banking and Wealth Management arm, offering products such as Trust and Fiduciary Services, Philanthropy Management, Investment Advisory, among others.

It also contributed in no small measures to the educational development of the country, for sometimes, its employees volunteered as teachers and mentors at various schools, teaching financial literacy as well as core subjects. Also, aside from financing an e-library project at the College of Education, Ikere-Ekiti, it has also authored and donated financial literacy books and other stationery to numerous schools in the country.

Sterling Bank has also on yearly basis donated thousands of reflective kits to the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) from street sweepers and highway managers.

In entertainment and sports, it has impacted several lives through its various CSR programs, for instance, it is a proud supporter of the Social Media Awards Africa SMAA which rewards creativity excellence and impact in Social Media in Africa.

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