Consumer Protection Agencies Will Continue To Play Crucial Role In Safeguarding Public Interest ACAMB President

…banking sector suffers from several practices, which call for concern –  Kanyip

By Olushola Okunlade

The Association of Corporate Affairs Managers of Banks (ACAMB), has stated its readiness to strengthen customers’ experience in the banking industry.

Stakeholders at the ACAMB Stakeholders Conference 2024 stated this at the just concluded conference held in Lagos on Thursday, May 30th, 2024.

The panel session hosted Sola Salako Ajulo, Federal Commissioner CCPT; Dr. Uju Ogubunka, FCIB; Lande Atere Chief Customer Experience Officer at FirstBank of Nigeria; Oguche Agudah CEO, Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria. These stakeholders did justice to the menace of rising issues between the banking industry and consumers.

ACAMB President, Rasheed Bolarinwa at the 3rd ACAMB Stakeholders Conference said “This gathering marks a pivotal moment for the banking and financial services sector in Nigeria, as we come together, for the first time to holistically discuss under one roof, customer experience issues as they affect accessing banking and financial products and services in Nigeria under the theme: “Building Bridges: Collaborative Solutions for a Trusted Banking and Financial Services Experience.”

He said “In a world where the financial landscape is continually evolving, ACAMB’s mission and the larger banking and financial sector remain clear: to foster transparency, prioritize consumer welfare, and champion industry excellence. This conference is a critical forum to address and resolve key consumer issues, providing a holistic understanding of Nigeria’s banking and financial services landscape. We acknowledge the symbiotic relationships that exist among the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), other financial institutions and regulators, and vital players in the Insurance and Pension industry, including NAICOM and PENCOM, as well as consumer protection agencies and the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS). ACAMB aims to educate consumers and foster their ability to make well-informed banking and financial services decisions. By creating a platform for open and constructive dialogue among consumers, regulatory bodies, the media, and financial institutions, ACAMB strives to build mutual understanding and trust.

Bolarinwa said ACAMB seeks to reinforce the reputation of the banking industry and as representatives of the banking and financial services sector, is dedicated to cultivating positive perceptions within Nigeria, sub-Saharan Africa, and beyond. ACAMB ensuring regulatory compliance is another cornerstone of its mission with its existence to deepen stakeholders’ understanding of existing and evolving CBN regulations, promoting a compliant and trustworthy environment.

Innovation is also at the heart of the ACAMB agenda must explore opportunities for progressive solutions that enhance customer satisfaction and inspire Banks and other financial institutions to adopt forward-thinking approaches. Nigeria’s banking and financial services sector, marked by resilience, adaptability, and innovation, stands as a beacon of stability amid economic fluctuations. The regulatory framework established by the CBN ensures the sector’s integrity, while collaboration with DMBs and auxiliary institutions like NAICOM, PENCOM, and NIBSS underscores the interconnectedness necessary for a robust ecosystem.

“As we move forward, consumer protection agencies will continue to play a crucial role in safeguarding public interests, ensuring fair practices, and nurturing a culture of transparency. This conference aims to bridge the past, present, and future, fostering collaborative relationships, transparency, and innovation. It is a testament to our collective responsibility to address consumer concerns and cultivate an inclusive, resilient, and consumer-centric banking and financial services landscape in Nigeria.”

Prof. Olanrewaju Pius Oladeji, FCIB, President/Chairman of Council, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) while delivering his remarks at the pivotal gathering commended the leadership of Association of Corporate Affairs Managers of Banks (ACAMB), under the capable guidance of Mr. Rasheed Bolarinwa, President of ACAMB on his efforts in organising such an insightful conference.

CIBN President said he eagerly looks forward to the innovative strategies and recommendations that will emerge from the discussions. He noted that Marketing and Communication Professionals play an indispensable role in the success of the banking industry. As the first point of contact with potential customers, you communicate a bank’s values and drive its perception and long-term reputation. Banks, in their bid to position themselves as future-ready players, often align their brand with long-term strategies. These strategies are, in part, implemented by the dedicated professionals seated in this room. This brings us to the theme of this year’s conference, “Building Bridges: Collaborative Solutions for a Trusted Banking and Financial Services Experience,” which is not only timely but also essential. Indeed, a closely knit collaboration between bankers and the distinguished professionals represented in this room has the potential to significantly shape the banking industry, by deepening the culture of trust, upon which customer loyalty, investor confidence, and the overall stability of our financial system rests.

He said, that throughout history, collaboration has been lauded as a clear gateway towards success. As the great American industrialist and magnate Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” This speaks to the heart of our gathering here today. Similarly, the great American author, Helen Keller, emphasized the power of unity when she said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

Prof. Pius provides some brief examples of how collaborative solutions between two great professions can further propel the banking industry:

  1. Building Brand Loyalty: Marketing and Communications professionals are often the first point of contact with the bank and contribute immensely towards building brand loyalty. Positive engagements can result in customers sticking with the same bank over many years while negative or below-par communication standards could drive them away. According to a 2023 Bain & Company survey of 29,805 consumers in 11 countries, consumers with high loyalty scores spend more with their bank, spend less to serve, and are more likely to recommend the bank to friends and family.
  1. Revenue Generation: As previously mentioned, the first point of contact potential customers have with the bank is usually with marketing professionals. You drive awareness of the bank’s brand as well as the goods and services available. Your style of communication and how you market the product or service to a given audience could determine the success of that product. It could attract or repel potential customers. The more customers you attract, the more revenue the banks make. In recent times, digital marketing particularly has evolved into an indispensable engine for revenue generation. According to a 2018 Deloitte study, companies that invest in digital market strategy experience 2.8 times higher revenue growth than those that do not.
  1. Achievement of Long-Term Strategies: True professionals in this field understand their customer’s ever-evolving tastes and work with the leadership of the bank to tailor services to meet those specific needs. This aligns with the long-term strategy of the bank to build trust and reliability. These professionals also safeguard to the best of their ability the reputation of the bank by engaging the public regarding negative reviews and promoting positive developments initiated by the bank. Ultimately, it is important to understand that our industry thrives on trust. It is the invisible force that drives customer loyalty, investor confidence, and the overall stability of our financial system. However, trust is not a given; it is earned through consistent, transparent, and ethical practices. A strong handshake between the bankers and the communications and marketing professionals will go a long way in building this trust while at the same time offering top-notch banking services. That is why, in my inaugural address, the thrust of this administration is anchored on LEGACY, of which Ethics and Professionalism are cardinal. Our LEGACY symbolises:

L – Leading an innovative financial system;

E – Entrenching Ethics, Professionalism and Integrity;

G – Gender, Generational and Geographical diversity;

A – Accelerating institute’s Vision and Values;

C – Competence in the banking and finance industry to aid National development.

Y – Youth and entrepreneurial engagement.

In conclusion, Prof. Olanrewaju Pius Oladeji, FCIB, stated “Looking beyond 2024, collaboration is not just a buzzword, it is a strategic imperative. By working together, we can create synergies that ultimately lead to improved customer experiences. The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria is open to collaborations with you by way of capacity building, sensitization, and advocacy programmes that would enlighten and draw attention to the importance of our joint purpose. As aptly put by Michael Jordan, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” Therefore, let us embrace the spirit of collaboration and work together towards a common goal: a trusted and thriving banking sector that serves the needs of our society. Let us build these bridges, not only for the present but for future generations.

Special Guest of the event, Hon. Justice Benedict Bakwaph Kanyip, PhD, OFR, FNIALS, FCTI, FCArb President, National Industrial Court of Nigeria in his remarks said “Banks, alongside other financial institutions, are critical to development. Financial services are the core of any economy. They provide the infrastructure needed to develop other markets. Banks provide credit to economic actors and insurance business creates a safer environment in which commerce and industry can develop. Investment services, which may be provided by a bank, insurance company, or some other financial institution or adviser, complete the tally. As strategic as the financial sector is, its stability must thus be ensured, and financial inclusiveness elevated to a right. However, the banking sector suffers from several practices, which call for concern.

Justice Kanyip mentions few examples that will suffice: Automation of banking services, as useful as this is in making banking business more convenient for customers, comes with so
many hidden charges. I often wonder why my bank, sending me an alert relating to a transaction, should charge me the cost of sending the alert. When I send a text to a friend, I bear the cost. Why should my bank not bear the cost of the alerts and charge them as cost items in its banking business, which would then qualify as deductible expenses for tax purposes? The same may be said of the account maintenance charge I get every month from my bank, and upon which value added tax (VAT) is deducted. How is my account
maintained to warrant this charge?

“The practice of giving employees targets in sourcing for deposits. This in itself may not be a problem, though it is often a nuisance to those of us who are contacted for such deposits. The problem, however, is when those employed and given targets are in the main female employees. Aside from this raising issues of discrimination in the workplace (especially where male employees are not so employed), the fact that it is female employees (who often dress seductively) that are unleashed on the unsuspecting public is a cause for concern. I must admit that in recent times, this practice is on the wane. The practice of concentrating on short term (financial) investments as against long term and real sector investment. Financial markets need to become less, not more, efficient. This sounds like heresy. The problem with financial markets today is that they are too efficient. The financial sector has become more efficient in generating profits for itself in the short run. Given the liquidity of their assets, the holders of financial assets are too quick to respond to change, which makes it difficult for real-sector companies to secure ‘patient capital’ that they need for long-term development. The speed gap between the financial sector and the real sector needs to be reduced. This means that the financial market needs to be deliberately made less efficient. The financial sector has grown much, much faster than the underlying economy. The very liquidity of financial assets makes them potentially negative for the rest of the economy. Unlike real sector assets, financial assets can be moved around and rearranged in seconds. Financial capital is often ‘impatient’ and seeks short-term gains. Exactly because finance is efficient in responding to changing profit opportunities, it can become harmful to the rest of the economy.

Kanyip emphasises that “The Court takes judicial notice of countless labour-related animosities which may hamper industrial relations if left to fester, hence the enactment. The contemplation of the drafters appears more in their preference for the lower Court, the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, to take a proactive stance in ensuring that the nation will not be left out in the reckoning of the comity of nations in the area of robustly flourishing labour practices and industrial relations. The Court hereby reiterates that the clarion call is to the stakeholders in labour and industrial relations, to strive to conform with the international best practices as obtainable in the field. For us then at the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), we have long recognized that the banking sector is sensitive so extreme care must be taken as to how its employees are treated. Accordingly, the termination of the employment of a bank employee with immediate effect suggests some wrongdoing, which the bank must justify, if the termination is to be upheld. If unjustified, the termination would attract more than the common law measure of damages i.e. payment instead of notice.”

Keynote and Guest Speaker Mr. Wale Abioye, Partner Strategy & Customer Solutions Advisory Services KPMG Nigeria said  “Trust is the new currency in the digital world, and it’s built through transparency, authenticity, and integrity.“ The Nigeria financial services landscape today has 3% Insurance penetration rate, 95% CBN Financial inclusion target, 61m Bank Accounts(BVN), 70% Once a week mobile app usage, and 10m RSA Accounts.

Abioye said “The future of financial services Automated and Intuitive Banking needs to be
super easy to use, and where relevant, be in the background Lifestyle Integration. A focus on next-level hyper-relevance and understanding of the customer’s needs Context and
Sensitivity Delivering services and experiences that align with the customer’s life stage, needs, and circumstances Resolution Proactive accountability and the ability to tackle an
issue even before it impacts the customer will drive excellent experiences Pioneers of Trust and Security There needs to be a shift to providing data security, protection, and cyber security to customers Proactive and forward-thinking Banks will need to anticipate what a
customer needs before they ask for it.

 

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