Wigwe’s Plan for Access Bank’s Aggressive Expansion in Africa

Herbert Wigwe


As Managing Director / Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe has remained the Marketing Manager of the fast growing financial institution, who takes every opportunity to tell how the bank continues to innovate. In his recent interview with an international agency, Wigwe unveiled the bank’s ambitious expansion plans in Africa, as captured by Festus Akanbi

With some three weeks to go until the end of the year, companies are expected to do well in fine-tuning their plans for the coming year. In the case of banks, dismantling cannot be total because banking operations are doomed to spill over into the new year.

However, in the case of Access Bank Plc, the ambitious expansionary momentum that took off at the start of this year will keep its management and staff on their toes even as the new year dawns.

In its drive to conquer the African continent, the bank under the leadership of Mr. Herbert Wigwe has continued to challenge frontiers as Access Bank continues to establish branches in most parts of the African continent.

This ambitious decision was confirmed by Wigwe who revealed that the bank’s objective is to have a strong presence in the main shopping centers in Africa.

Interestingly, as the bank expands its network to cover more jurisdictions in Africa, it has shown that it does not look away from the opportunities in Nigeria, with Wigwe claiming that the bank strives to serve 50% of the bankable population. from Nigeria.

Speaking in an interview with Julia Chatterley, First Move presenter on Cable News Network (CNN), the boss of Access Bank said, “We make sure we have a strong presence in all of the major shopping centers around the world. continent, to do We are sure that we use Access Bank United Kingdom as a strong anchor and that we can support the corresponding banking services and that we can build this model on the continent which supports payments on the continent. “

The bank is banking on its successful UK exit, an experience that confirmed to Wigwe that a good institution will shine anywhere. He said: ‘It was the same when we went to UK, people said it was a very tough market and I think we are almost the strongest African bank in UK. Now what are we doing in South Africa?

“We will make it become a hub for the continent when it comes to correspondent banking services, we would help support businesses as there are interesting niches in this market that are not yet served and we would help to ensure greater depth.

“I think we are on the right track in terms of profitability, our various franchises are doing extremely well and I think 2022 is going to be a great year for the institution.”

Responding to a question about what attracts the bank to other parts of the African continent, Wigwe explained that such an ambitious expansion is driven by the realization that Africa still has a large market to serve. “Without revealing much of our strategy, there are some interesting markets that have not been served that we could cover. But other than that you have to see us in the context of a big player on the continent, banker several companies in different parts of the continent and putting this whole network in place is extremely important. ”

Access Bank, he said, also aims to play a very important role in trade and correspondent banking on the African continent. Inter-African trade requires stable and strong financial institutions, a role Access Bank is poised to play.

He said: “Trade is important, corresponding banking services are important and, of course, facilitating the development of the country in the South African context, which is, of course, the continent’s largest currency area would be very important for we”.

While conquering more ground on the continent, Wigwe believes that Access Bank should continue to maintain its preeminent position in the ranking of banks in Nigeria, especially given the demographic advantage that Nigeria has in Africa. Despite this huge population, it is unfortunate that a huge percentage of it is still not being banked.

“We have around 200 million people in Nigeria and there is still a very large unbanked population. We have people outside of the big commercial towns who don’t have a bank to serve them. what are we doing?

“In addition to ensuring that today we are cashing in over 50 million Nigerians, which means we cashing in 25% of the population, but in terms of the bankable population, we have a third of the bankable population. Now taking one in two Nigerians should take us to around 100 million people. “

“Now, in terms of bankable Nigerians, it would take us between 80 million and 100 million to get there. We will therefore continue this activity through our branch network and the fact that we have created a different type of branch network in specific localities outside the big city, ”said Wigwe.

Solid clientele

Access Bank, according to Wigwe, is already making significant progress in building a solid customer base, a feat which it believes will increase significantly in 2022. It is banking on a series of innovations brought to the bank as well as the role of the bank. pay at a bank branch.

“Today we’re going to probably attract around 700,000 clients each month and I think that number should increase a lot more as we approach 2022 with some of the things that we have been doing and the increase in branch banking that we have. have done.”

“Now the question of whether we need all these people is the fact that if you went back 20 years ago you would have said that some of these customers didn’t have enough disposable income to be banked. . But technology has changed that whole narrative.

“It’s cheaper to serve all of these people. But on top of that, we see ourselves as one of those institutions leading change in Nigeria by providing and ensuring greater financial inclusion, and that in itself would help revive and sustain the economy, ”said Wigwe.

Determined to play a leading role in the Central Bank’s financial inclusion campaign, Wigwe said Access Bank will use its broad coverage to support the financial inclusion policy.

He said, “There are a number of reasons why we are doing this and at the end of the day it pays to bank them. High net worth individuals, private banking and affluent professionals is a market that we know very well, but it is a very competitive market and the margins are shrinking.

“So what we need to do is take it off the market and ensure more financial inclusion, in line with some of the things the central bank has been pursuing in passing and making sure that all of that can help the development of our market and ensure greater financial deepening.

More branches

The boss of Access Bank believed there was still a need for more branches to meet customer needs. According to him, “There are two perspectives in the bank. We have the traditional branches that serve customers who want to go to certain branches. But let me also tell you if you look around the world and wonder if the banks are closing branches? The reality is that banks still need a reasonable number of respectable branches.

“Now we also have these digital solutions that serve customers who don’t even want to go to the bank branch. Now we understand that fintech players can get a good proportion of this customer base. But guess what?

“At the end of the day, if you have a physical branch, even if the customer doesn’t want to walk into a bank branch, it helps from an integrity standpoint for the customer to just know they have a place to go. . . “

Gender empowerment

Wigwe recalled that as a gender-minded bank, Access Bank in 2006, the Gender Empowerment Program, noting that what the bank wanted to do then was basically to help provide financial services to people. women and support the growth of their businesses.

“We set ourselves targets, in collaboration with the International Finance Corporation, for the number of women we wanted to support and the threshold we wanted to take them in terms of turnover and profitability.

“We have been extremely successful and have had less than one percent of default on the loans we have made. But eight years later, in 2014, we created the ‘W’ program, which is much more robust and it’s about inspiring and connecting women.

There is no doubt that Access Bank is not only ready for the year 2022, the bank is also ready to take Africa by storm.

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