Lafferty Group, a global rating agency and a major provider of knowledge services to the banking industry, has rated Sterling Bank 10th in the world, top three in Africa and the top bank in Nigeria.
BANKING thrives on creativity and promotion of enterprise that build wealth for the people. For Sterling Bank, creative banking and entrepreneurship development are key variables to its sustainable banking practice. The inauguration of the social lender scheme, a modified peer-to-peer lending solution, using the Social Media Platforms through which micro-credit is offered to members of these communities, is one of the creative banking initiatives developed by the lender.
It provides a platform for online fans and customers to obtain monies via social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter. The bank said the scheme was repackaged with added benefits because of its success story and the quality of feedback from its on-line community, as well as the impressive pay back attitude of the beneficiaries.
The bank has reaffirmed its commitment to promoting retail banking and entrepreneurship which allow it to provide banking services to individual consumers and create wealth for the people. Such services, the lender said in a statement, include savings and transactional accounts, mortgages, personal loans, debit cards and credit cards, among others. These initiatives and many more, prompted Lafferty Group to rate Sterling Bank among 100 banks from around the world.
According to Michael Lafferty, Chairman, Lafferty Group, “banks that score well on Lafferty Bank Quality Ratings tend to trade at a premium price to their tangible book value”.
In an update to investors and analysts on the Ratings, Sterling Bank’s Managing Director/CEO, Yemi Adeola, said: Our bank has remained resilient in a turbulent operating environment and Lafferty Bank Quality Ratings, has provided an objective view on the fundamentals of our business, by rating us 10th in the world, top three in Africa (after Capitec and Barclays Africa) and the top bank in Nigeria”.
“In spite of regulatory and macroeconomic headwinds, we have maintained strong capital and liquidity positions. I am pleased that an external and independent party has validated the bank’s reputation as a well-run, sustainable institution which further lays credence to our valuation in the equities market relative to competition,” he said.
Adeola said while the lender welcomes the external validation of “our business model, it remains committed to building a strong brand with a pervasive culture of innovation, good corporate governance and excellent service delivery.”
The rating has attracted commendation from customers, who described it as a recognition of excellent service delivery and support for the growth of the Nigerian economy. The rating is based on key quantitative and qualitative criteria such as strategy, culture, customer care, brand promise and financial performance.
A cross section of the bank’s customers, in Lagos, said the rating would further reinforce their confidence in the Bank as it has become a major player globally in terms of provision of customer oriented products and quality service delivery.
They also noted that the activities of the bank in the education sector, sports, agriculture, environment, support to the growth of small businesses, may have influenced the high rating of the bank.
Michael Asuquo, an entrepreneur based in Lagos, noted that the rating of the bank among the top global financial institutions and the best in Nigeria, did not come to many as a surprise based on the value the bank has brought to bear on the sustainable growth of businesses owned by their customers.
“l have seen a lot of difference in terms of value addition to my business and l was convinced that the Bank will go places since I started banking. Apart from providing funds, the Bank goes a step further to provide free professional advisory services that is second to none in the industry just to ensure the growth of the their customers’ businesses,” he said.
Another customer who spoke at the Adeola Odeku branch, said with the rating, the bank has established the fact that provision of quality services is not about size “but on how resourceful your personnel are and what you can bring to the table to support the growth of customer’s business. Sterling Bank offers personalised services that you cannot get in most financial institutions in the country and l am happy that this has been recognised by an international rating agency.“
Gbolahan Bello, an entrepreneur who took part in the first Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSME) Workshop organized by the Bank in Lagos noted that “a bank that deemed it fit to organise a workshop to train small business owners on how to grow their businesses cannot be ignored because small businesses all over the world are the bedrock of the economy. So the rating is well deserved and Sterling Bank must be commended for this feat”.
Sterling Bank’s Get Ready for Work initiative recently held in Lagos broadened the opportunity for young entrepreneurs and job seekers to achieve their life ambitions.
The event, with the theme: “Mind The Gap” was organised to help participants understand what they need to make it in life, whether in businesses or paid employment.
The event, part of the bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, was supported by online job portal, Jobberman and skills development centre, Field of Skills and Dream. It empowered over 4,000 graduates with employable and entrepreneurship skills.
The event presented a platform for the bank to bridge the financial exclusion gap as its staff also encouraged participants to open accounts with the bank and enjoy the benefits. For instance, as fallout of last year’s programme, the bank gave grants to those who have started their businesses. Four beneficiaries got N2.5 million, N1.5 million, N1 million and N500,000. The gesture is expected to be repeated this year.
The bank has consistently reaffirmed its commitment to promoting retail banking which allows it to provide banking services to individual consumers. Such services include savings and transactional accounts, mortgages, personal loans, debit cards, and credit cards, among others.
Chief Executive Officer, Wakanow, Obinna Okezie, urged the participants to be hard working. He said: “We started with nothing, but today, we employ over 500 people in our five years of operation. That is why it is important for you all to pursue your ideas and turn them to reality.’’
Executive Director, Field of Skills and Dreams VTE Academy (FSD) Omowale Ogunrinde, commended Sterling Bank for investing in the future of youths in country through the initiative.
According to her, the bank was responsible for organisations like hers agreeing to take part in the programme without charging participants professional fees. She said her firm is doing everything possible to get more Nigerians prepared to become better entrepreneurs. He said the FSD has in recent years, equipped the youths with entrepreneurial skills that enabled them to start their own businesses. “We are helping to build enduring entrepreneurs. This can only be achieved through training and commitment from organisations as Sterling Bank is doing,” she said.
Sterling Bank’s Executive Director, Finance & Strategy, Abubakar Suleiman, said apart from getting the youth ready to pursue their career choices and helping them acquire the required skills, the lender will also through the programme, reduce the unemployment rate in the country.
Suleiman, who spoke at the pre-event briefing held in Lagos, said: ‘Get Ready For Work’, now in its third year, is the bank’s way of giving back to the society and equipping the youths with the right skills to succeed in their jobs.
“There is no country in the world that would not be affected by a high level of youth unemployment. Once youth employment stands above 25 per cent in any country, such country is heading for chaos,” he said.
Life coach/psychoanalyst, Jerome Onipede engaged entrepreneurs in a master class on what it takes to develop a business and make it in the cut-throat environment like Nigeria. Another class was also organised for career focused individuals to learn how to become employees of value in any organisation of their choice. The event gave participants the opportunity to interact with human resource representatives of various organisations and undergo on-the-spot testing with a view of securing jobs.
Olise-Emeka Nwachukwu, Consultant at Human Capacity Development Consultants, said Sterling Bank is trying to bridge the gap between competencies in terms of employment and entrepreneurship in the market. “We have a large number of young people who leave school, and need to take step one to become skilled, in terms of ready to work environment. They also need to know how to set up their business. People do not have the right attitude to work, they do not have the right skills to take the available jobs. The schools only give them theory about the knowledge of the job,” he said.