Interview with Mrs. Abiola Bawuah, MD and CEO of UBA Ghana

“FULFILLING EXPECTATIONS, STRENGTHENING CORE VALUES. Mrs. Abiola Bawuah is the MD/CEO of UBA Ghana with enormous experience in retail banking and marketing. In 2013, she left Zenith Bank; where she was the Executive Director; having previously held the positions of a General Manager, Marketing and Group Head, Retail Banking; and joined UBA Ghana as Deputy Managing Director the same year. Mrs. Bawuah has also worked with Standard Chartered Bank as a Head of Sales; with CAL Bank as Relationship Manager; Strategic African Securities as an authorized dealing broker and with the then Bentsi-Enchi and Letsa; now Bentsi- Enchil, Letsa and Ankomah law firm as an investment officer. Mrs. Bawuah holds a BSc in Actuarial Science from the University of Lagos, Nigeria, an LLB from the University of London, a diploma in Marketing from GIMPA and an EMBA (Finance) from the University of Ghana. She also has numerous leadership qualifications from Harvard Business School, Columbia, University of New York, INSEAD and Institut Villa Pierrefeu in Switzerland. Here are few questions answered by her, while our interaction with her:”

What will you say about the UBA Ghana as a brand?

The UBA brand is over 75 years operating in 19 countries in Africa, including London, Paris and New york, now that is indeed well on the way to becoming a worldwide brand. The UBA brand embraces our need to constantly anticipate the changing needs of customers. It also speaks to the synergy of driving our habits and processes to work with our customers. The UBA brand speaks to our new core values; Enterprise, Excellence and Execution, where we simplify it to be Excellent Service … Delivered. We care deeply about what we do and are driven by a passionate desire for excellence but always with the end in mind for the customer. We are constantly searching for new ideas to apply to our work in order to add value for them.

What has been the track record of the bank since its inception?

As Africa’s global bank, United Bank for Africa (Ghana) Ltd. has developed a branch footprint and delivery network that has ensured that the bank’s services are always within the reach of valued customers. In line with the bank’s positioning statement and strategic intent, United Bank for Africa (Ghana) Ltd has a footprint of 26 fully networked branches, 2 agency centres and 49 Visa enabled ATM’s spread across Accra, Tema, Tamale, Tarkwa, Kumasi, Takoradi and Aflao.

How did UBA Bank perform last year compared to the previous years?

2016 was a robust year for United Bank for Africa (Ghana) Ltd highlighted by a strong financial performance. This was a tough achievement which we felt our staff fought hard to achieve.

Did you meet your target at the end of the year?

Yes we did, we feel confident about what we tried to do and achieved with careful diligence.

What targets have you set for the bank this year?

Our budget for this year is defined by our strategy to improve our tier status the industry. We therefore have a mandate (from our board) to achieve a much higher profit before tax rating than what we succeeded in doing.

In the next five years where do you plan to see UBA BANK?

We are targeting what all banks would like which is industry leadership in five years across all parameters.

What is your take on the mobile money in the country; do you see it as a threat to the banking sector?

I do not see mobile money as a threat to banking under the Bank led model being operated in Ghana. It is an opportunity that can be innovative and fairly explored by both banks and Tel-cos to further drive financial inclusion. However, the landscape will require an agile and dynamic regulatory vigilance which I believe Bank of Ghana can always deliver

What is your view on the call for collaboration between the banks and the telecom companies on mobile money?

The collaboration between banks and Tel-cos is important to drive financial inclusion as well as to be able to reach the large un-banked population of Ghana. So it is therefore necessary and good for there to be this existing collaboration and for it to continue to be at various levels in such manner that stimulates competition among players.

What drove your growth during the year?

Our growth last year was phenomenal, and I take this opportunity to commend my staff and thank our customers for this. I feel this was due to the rededication of our vision last year. We asked our staff to refocus on our core offerings of corporate banking in key sectors as well as relational customer service with our retail banking sector. We trained, coached and targeted our products and customized them to our customers. We felt this would help us place our digital banking offering in a robust playing field to drive behavior patterns for our customers and it did well to yield great results for us.

What was your biggest challenge last year?

Taking a look at what we experienced, it became evident that we were working against the tide of perception. The moment our country finds itself in an election year, panic and speculation become the order of the day and this brings on real issues such as currency fluctuations which is what transpired. These in turn take a toll on consumer price index figures and cause trade, foreign direct investment and buying patterns to stall. Customers suffer the transfer of costs and the banking industry is left grappling with the weight of the burden on our customers. This was our main challenge and to militate against it, we spent our time and energy on relationship banking with our customers, encouraging our staff to keep their focus and continue to work towards allaying the fears of our clients.

What is your expectation from the new government in the financial sector?

First of all we wish to congratulate all Ghanaians for the peaceful transition of power from last year to this year and as we do so we look forward to the unfolding of the promises the new government laid out for our sector. This was in the region of private sector development which is a tried and tested engine for primary growth in many markets. We expect that the banking sector will be a direct beneficiary of the bounce back of the markets and the anticipation and positive speculation is most welcome

Source: Business Day Ghana

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