Post-consolidation: Access Bank striving for international standards
3 Nov 2014
Source: Nigerian Tribune
By: Chima Nwokoji-Lagos
Pursuant to part X11 of the Investments and Securities Act (No.29) of 2007, Access Bank Nigeria Plc, in 2012, merged with defunct Intercontinental Bank, leaving the former as the surviving entity. Ever since, Access Bank has not only spent the last two years integrating the business, investing in infrastructure and strengthening the product offer, but also consistent in its march towards becoming an international brand.
Industry watchers were thrilled by the bank’s seamless integration of systems and human capital after the merger that produced a bank with shareholders’ fund of over N240 billion.
The bank’s efforts to be an internationally recognised financial institution are yielding fruits as a number of global and domestic agencies have endorsed its systems and processes through awards. Most recent of such awards was the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 22301 certificate for ‘Societal Security - Business Continuity Management Systems.’ The award was presented to the bank by the British Standard Institute (BSI) after about three months of rigorous business impact analysis across all the departments of the bank.
Speaking during the presentation of the certificate in Lagos, Mr Mike Purves, Acting Deputy High Commissioner and Director, United Kingdom Trade and Investment, expressed satisfaction that the British Standard Institute was helping to improve standard in Nigeria. He further stated that the award is not just significant to Access 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 Group Deputy Managing Director of Access Bank, Mr Obinna Nwosu, corroborated Purves submission. He said the certification is based on international good practice deployed by the bank to manage business continuity.
The ISO 22301, according to him, 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.
He said, “The ISO 22301 standardization certification will help 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.
“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 recently held Business Day award as well as being rated B by Fitch and A+ by Agusto & Co.”
Nwosu commended staff of the bank’s operational Risk Management, Information Technology, among others, for their commitment to the 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.
“Societal Security Preparedness and Continuity Management Systems Requirements”, is the International Standard for Business Continuity Management Systems. It covers international best practice specifying requirements for planning and implementing a business continuity management system (BCMS).
Organisations wishing to certify their BCMS are often externally audited against the requirements in ISO 22301. To such organisations, ISO 22301 provides a common framework based on international good practice, to manage business continuity.
By this award, Access Bank enjoys proactive improvement in it’s strength when faced with disruptions that may pose challenge to its ability to achieve key objectives.
Stakeholders of the bank also stand to benefit as the bank has now been proved to have a rehearsed method of restoring supply of critical products and services to an agreed level and timeframe even in a disruptive situation. ISO 22301 helps protect and enhance a bank›s reputation and brand; opens new markets and helps win new business; enables a clearer understanding of how a whole organisation works and can help identify opportunities for improvement.
Speaking in the same vein, Mrs Ojinika Olaghere, Executive Director, Operations and Information Technology, Access Bank, assured stakeholders that the bank will sustain the certification. She explained 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.”
In her own view, Mrs Adedoyin Odunfa, Managing Director, Digital Jewels, commended the bank for its willingness to display responsible performance in all its businesses activities, instead of aggressive performance.
She explained that the 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. She said, “These could include natural disaster, information technology failure, staff illness, terrorist threat or a disruption in supply chain. ISO 22301 will provide you with a framework for assessing critical suppliers and their associated risks, assessing current business practices and planning contingency measures.
“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, organisations will not only significantly help reduce the risks to their businesses, but will also help will help achieve operational resilience.”
Speaking in the same vein, Mrs. Ojinika Olaghere, Executive Director, Operations and IT, Access Bank, assured all its stakeholders that the bank will sustain the certification. She explained 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.”
She further explained that when incidents happen, the organisation concerned will be prepared and able to respond effectively. She said it will also be able to reduce downtime having identified alternative arrangements.
“With ISO 22301, organisations will not only significantly help reduce the risks to their businesses, but will also help achieve operational resilience,” Odunfa stated.
Experts say Business Continuity Management System Covers personnel, emergency response/recovery teams, customers, contractors and suppliers. It also covers third party service providers, technology and acquisition as well as system upgrades.
Most organisations will, at some point, be faced with having to respond to an incident which may disrupt or threaten the day-to-day operations of their business, but an ISO 22301 certified organisations like Access Bank with successful Business Continuity Management (BCM) programme, established to respond to any potential disruption, such incidents, will be better managed.
Establishing a holistic Business Continuity Management System not only helps a bank to recover from disasters, it also prevents the reputational damage that can arise from any operational outages, missed deadlines, upset customers, or direct financial loss.
The British Standard Institute said overall BCM programme must be managed through activities such as determining the scope, risk evaluation, business continuity strategy, business continuity objectives, development planning, training, exercises, testing, reviewing and continual development. Even if an organisation has never experienced a serious incident, establishing a BCMS, built on ISO 22301, helps to define key business processes and the disruption that could result from any threats.
The ISO 22301 certification also helps improve any business by ensuring planned, effective BCM at all levels, including organisation-wide identification and understanding of critical business processes and the impact of disruption; compliance with the expectations of regulators, insurers, business partners and other key stakeholders; Protection of shareholder value among others.