Nigeria: Our Business Continuity Approach - Access Bank
2 Nov 2014
Access Bank Plc said its approach to business continuity was anchored on the desire to attain the certification that is based on international best practice and ensure it is domiciled by the bank in the management of its operations.
Besides, the bank said it was its strategy to drill itself in a rigorous and stringent exercise with a view to coming out stronger and acquire certification that specifies requirements to plan, establish, implement, operate, monitor, review, maintain and continually improve a documented management system to prepare for, respond to and recover from disruptive events when they arise.
The bank's Deputy Managing Director, Obinna Nwosu, said that while the International Organization for Standardization (ISO 22301) certificate for 'Societal Security - Business Continuity Management Systems has been awarded the financial institution by the British Standard Institute (BSI), the benefit is that it will help to improve the bank's business by ensuring planned, effective Business Continuity Management at all levels, including Organization-wide identification and understanding of critical business processes and the impact of disruption, timely and orderly responses to incidents/business disruptions.
Speaking on the achievement, which came after about three months of rigorous business impact analysis across all the departments of the bank, he said: "Access Bank deserves the certification which is coming on the heels of the bank's recognition earlier in the year, as the best Nigerian company in corporate citizenship in the first ever competitive index on corporate social responsibility in Nigeria by the CSR-in-Action. We also won the Best Bank in CSR at the Business Day award as well as being rated B by Fitch and A+ by Agusto & Co.
"Success is a function of persistence, doggedness and willingness to work hard for 20 minutes, to make sense of what many people would give up on after 30 seconds. This statement sums up one of the several reasons why we have chosen to seek certifications that require various preparatory processes and managed by globally reputable organisations. The tradition of innovation, professionalism and security is what we are known for at Access Bank.
"Like many bright students we are excited and are highly motivated in attaining these highest standards in the industry. We have become one of the organisations in Nigeria to be awarded ISO 22031 Societal Security - Business Continuity Management Systems Certification, based on international good practice, to manage business continuity.
Nwosu commended staff of the bank's Operational Risk Management, Information Technology and indeed all members of staff for their commitment to this project and concerted effort in achieving the feat, adding that the Board and Management of the bank is committed to business continuity across the bank.
The much-sought after certification helps to put in place a clearly defined framework for the ongoing Business Continuity Management System capability; achieve a business continuity capability that meets changing business needs and is appropriate to the size, complexity and nature of the organization; ensure that all BCMS activities are conducted and implemented in an agreed and controlled manner; provides a common framework, based on international good practice, to manage business continuity; proactively improves your resilience when faced with disruptions to your ability to achieve key objectives; provides a rehearsed method of restoring your ability to supply critical products and services to an agreed level and timeframe following a disruption; delivers a proven response for managing a disruption; helps protect and enhance your reputation and brand; opens new markets and helps to win new business; and enables a clearer understanding of how the whole organization works and can help identify opportunities for improvement.
Additionally, ensures the protection of shareholder value; improved understanding of the business as gained through risk identification and analysis; operational resilience, which results from implementing risk reduction; reduced downtime when alternative processes and workarounds are identified; vital records are being maintained and protected; improved operational effectiveness through a forced programme of business process re-engineering; protection of both the physical and knowledge assets of the business; preservation of markets by ensuring continuity of supply; and improved overall security and avoidance of liability actions.
The Executive Director, Operations and Information Technology, Access Bank, Mrs. Ojinika Olaghere, assured all its stakeholders that that the bank will sustain the certification, adding that the award is not only for the bank, but for Nigeria, saying, "this is just the beginning of more things to come for the bank."
But the Acting Deputy High Commissioner and Director, United Kingdom Trade and Investment, Mike Purves, expressed satisfaction that BSI is helping to improve standard in Nigeria, saying that the award is not just significant to the bank, but to Nigeria, as it will help boost Nigeria's reputation in the global financial landscape by showing to the whole world, especially international investors, that the country is prepared to test itself and do business in line with international best practices.
The Managing Director of Digital Jewels, Mrs. Adedoyin Odunfa, commended the bank for its willingness to display responsible performance in all its businesses activities, instead of aggressive performance, adding that ISO 22301 is suitable for use in businesses of all sizes across all sectors, as it will help protect the organization against the threats specific to its business like natural disaster, information technology failure, staff illness, terrorist threat or a disruption in supply chain.
"When incidents happen, the organization will be prepared and able to respond effectively. It will also be able to reduce downtime having identified alternative arrangements. With ISO 22301, organizations will not only significantly help reduce the risks to their businesses, but will also help will help achieve operational resilience," she added.
The Group Managing Director of the bank, Herbert Wigwe, while commenting on the financial institution's financial performance, said: "The bank's resilient 3Q 2014 results reflect consistent improvement in our balanced growth and target metrics. Our performance over the past three quarters demonstrates the effectiveness of our corporate strategy as the Bank continues to grow its market share in key segments whilst enhancing shareholder value.
"We have implemented a disciplined and conservative capital enhancement plan, designed to ensure we maintain our moderate risk appetite. This will ensure a stronger capitalised bank, enabling us to remain competitive and take advantage of significant market opportunities in the execution of our long-term strategy."
The bank had recently posted a profit of N44.2 billion for the nine months ended September 30, 2014, an increase of 20 per cent from N35.1 billion recorded during the same period in 2013.
The group unaudited IFRS nine-month results released to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) showed gross earnings of N182 billion, representing 17 per cent rise from N154 billion achieved in the corresponding period of 2013. The growth in gross earnings was driven by an increase in interest income from loans.
Similarly, it posted 21 per cent growth in operating income to N126 billion from N104 billion in 2013. Customer deposits increased by 11 per cent to N1.5 trillion from N1.3 trillion in full year 2013.The bank's asset quality ratios also improved as non-performing loan ratio was down 20 basis points to 2.5 per cent, from 2.7 per cent in December 2013.
Further analysis of the result indicated that the bank's cost to income ratio stood at 61per cent in third quarter 2014 compared to 75per cent in 2013. Total assets grew by 14per cent to N2.1trillion from N1.8trillion in full year 2013. Loans and advances of N1.1 trillion showed an increase of 33 per cent compared to N811 billion in full year 2013 performance.
The bank also recently launched International Money Transfer Service in partnership with MoneyGram, to provide outbound money transfer service in Nigeria, a development, which would trigger a new turn in Nigeria's money transfer market, and perhaps make it the first financial institution that MoneyGram partnered to offer such service.
The newly launched MoneyGram outbound money transfer service, tagged "Naija Sends", allows Nigerians to send their Naira abroad through any Access Bank branch and platform in Nigeria, while the funds are received in the currency of the receiving country.
The Head of Personal Banking, Access Banking, Victor Etuokwu, said: "What we promise our customers is speed, service and security. This means that we would offer them this service in a manner that is expeditious, quick, with minimal, but legal documentation; the service would be prompt and done in an environment that is secured. In other words, there would be no errors and there would not be fraud. There were some discussions around the limit, that it would be necessary to increase it so that those at the bottom of the pyramid who do this type of trans-border transactions would be able to see this as an enabler for their business. If you put the limit so low, you will cut off some micro entrepreneurs. So, it is a welcome development that the regulator is sensitive to some ideas that would grow the economy."
Also, the Head, Franchise Group, Access Bank, Ola Isola, said: "I would call on all Nigerians to see this as a platform to relate with their loved ones and business partners across the world. So, be it payment for a child in school, medical payment, business purchases across the world, this is a safe and secured platform. This is a platform that the people within the bottom of the pyramid are conversant with. The charges are competitive when you compare them with the alternative platforms. But we have to always note service because service that is not paid for is not sustainable."
But the MoneyGram Regional Manager for Anglophone West Africa, Mrs. Kemi Okusanya, said: "Over the last two decades, MoneyGram has facilitated over 15 million transactions in Nigeria, enabling safe, convenient and reliable transfer of funds from the Nigerians in Diaspora to their loved ones. As Africa's largest economy, with over 10 million migrants, we are glad we are able to offer this service in Nigeria today."
The bank and VISA also singed a partnership deal with an online shopping company- shoptomydoor.com, which is exclusively for Visa cardholders.
This partnership will afford Access Bank Visa cardholders the opportunity to shop online at retail outlets in the United States, United Kingdom and China, as well as enjoy exclusive shipping discounts directly to their doorsteps.
The move was seen as part of Access Bank's efforts at boosting electronic payments, e-commerce and fostering ease of transactions, in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN's) cashless initiative,
Etuokwu, said: "This partnership offers Access Bank Visa Card holders various discount services which include free sign up on shoptomydoor.com portal, free 12 month premium account, continuous discount from selected online stores, 10 per cent discount on low shipping cost till December 31, 2014, among others. We believe that our customers will benefit immensely from this innovation, and the process is straightforward," he stated.