Okonkwo, Fidelity Bank CEO

By EMEKA EJERE

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Bank Plc, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, has emerged as the Business Hallmark Newspaper Banker of the Year in the 2020 edition of the People of the Year Awards series. .

According to a statement by the Editorial Board of the newspaper, the choice of Okonkwo is “in recognition of the consistent performance of the management team of Fidelity Bank in setting a track record of sustained growth, profitability and wealth creation across its operations.”

Business Hallmark Newspaper is one of Nigeria’s leading Business and financial providers, with a weekly publication and daily on-line reports that have become authoritative reference points in financial, business socio-political news, features and analyses.

The newspaper’s concept of People of the Year is to honour outstanding individuals and corporate organisations who have affected the Nigerian economy in productive ways in their various fields.

Justifying the choice further, the newspaper noted, “Our Editorial Board was particularly impressed by the sterling performance of the bank in the retail market segment and on its digital platforms.

“The unprecedented growth achieved in these sectors since the inception of your management term, showcases a leadership that has both been strategic and creative.

“Your consistent promotion of entrepreneurship and investment in the MSME value chain can rightly be argued to have catalyzed action in Nigeria’s economic growth and recovery.”

Reacting to the choice of Okonkwo for the award, eminent economist and former bank CEO, Dr. Alex Otti, noted that the Fidelity Bank chief is a thorough bred professional who has been in the banking industry for over three decades.

Describing Okonkwo as a result-oriented, talented and unassuming leader who leads from the front, the Abia State governorship candidate stated that the outgoing CEO is very deserving of the award, having transformed Fidelity Bank tremendously and can hold his head high as he takes his leave when the ovation is loudest.

Otti said, “Nnamdi Okonkwo is a thorough bred professional who has been in the banking industry for over three decades. He is a result-oriented and talented leader.

“He is an unassuming leader who leads from the front. He has transformed the bank tremendously and can hold his head high as he bows out when the ovation is loudest. I believe he is very deserving of this award and a lot more.”

When in 2014 Okonkwo took over the mantle of leadership of the bank and a few years later launched the ambitious plan to be a tier 1 bank, there was a lot of skepticism.  But with the consistency of performance and latest results showing double digit growth figures year-on-year, there is no doubt that the bank is on the right track to achieving the feat.

With his scheduled exit at the end of the year, the bank has presently put in place a transition schedule to ensure that the growth momentum already established in the Okonkwo years is sustained and maintained.

“To ensure a smooth and successful transition, Nnamdi Okonkwo will continue in his role as the MD/CEO until December 31, 2020, while Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe will assume office as the substantive MD/CEO by January 1, 2021”, the statement from the Chairman, Board of Directors of the bank, Mr. Ernest Ebi that had announced Okonkwo’s imminent disengagement had expressed.

Ebi, who is himself quite established in banking and financial services matters having served in the board and management of Nigeria’s apex bank, very profusely commended the exiting MD/CEO for his significant contributions to the growth and development of the bank.

“Fidelity Bank has enjoyed a very stable leadership since inception. These appointments underscore the bank’s robust human capital capabilities, governance and succession policies. We thank Nnamdi not only for his sterling performance but also for nurturing the new team and current crop of leaders to continue to steer the bank on its growth trajectory” he enthused.

Among Okonkwo’s towering achievements in his six years in the saddle, he led the bank in implementing first a greater emphasis on the cultivation of retail deposits and then a Digital-led Strategy which led to significant growth across key performance matrix and increased market share, with the bank currently ranked 6th amongst Nigerian banks on most performance indices.

This has helped in his securing some of his other key achievements in number terms which include a Profit Before Tax, PBT growth of 236% from N9.0bn to N30.4bn; Return on Equity, RoE increase from 5.5% to 13.3%; Customer Deposits growth of 68% from N806.3bn to N1,352.3bn and Savings Deposit growth of 275% from N83.3bn to N312.1bn.

Other notable number achievements include Net Loans and Advances growth of 174% from N426.1bn to N1, 165.8bn; Customer Base increase by 121% from 2.4 million to 5.3 million and Digital Banking penetration improvement from 1.0% to 50.1%, accounting for 28.4% of total fee income.

In the area of institutional finance mobilisation, the bank under the leadership of Okonkwo successfully accessed the local and international markets through the issuance of N30bn Corporate Bonds in 2015 and $400million Eurobonds in 2017.

The award ceremony details will be announced in due course.