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Ghana 2016 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Alhassan Andani, Chief Executive of Stanbic Bank, on the path to growth, achieving awarded recognition, and ensuring long-term success through innovation.

Alhassan Andani
BIOGRAPHY
Alhassan Andani was born in Banvim near Tamale on November 24, 1960. He holds a bachelor of science degree in agricultural economics from the University of Ghana and a master's degree in banking and finance from Fin Africa Institute in Milan. He was Deputy Managing Director of Barclays Bank Ghana before joining Stanbic Bank in 2006. He sits on the board of several organizations including Ghana Home Loans Company Ltd, Savana Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), JA International Group of Companies, Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), Rlg Communications (Ghana) Limited, and TV Africa.

What has been your strategy for growth?

Stanbic Group was, and still is, the largest bank in Africa by assets, and has a considerable African footprint. I decided that we needed to make it one of the top three banks within three years and a top-tier bank by year five, which we managed. We had two branches at that time and one agency. Stanbic Bank runs three business; corporate investment, retail, and wealth, so we had to build a configuration that could respond to our client base. Our initial strategy was to build a very strong corporate investment capability. That developed our global markets business, which involves treasury and intermediating foreign exchange, interest rate management, trading securities, and some structured transactions to ensure we are active on the foreign exchange markets. We saw our multinational business expand in the corporate and investment banking area. We had to make sure we had points of representation across the whole country so we could be a collections and a payment platform for the multinationals. There are many mining companies based in rural areas, so we expanded the bank network - we now have 34 branches, up from three. Our focus has also been to make sure we get the right people into the bank at all levels. One area of measuring is market share, which we hope to push up to 10%. Our cost of income ratio exceeds 50% or better. We are looking at the equality of our loan book, which is again a ceiling of 2% or better. Our shareholder return is a 27% return on equity. We also want to make sure we push our brand image. We have to be the go-to branch, whether it is for multinationals, the government, or domestic corporates that want to do much more value-adding bank solutions and services. We want to be a brand that attracts the right companies and gives its employees the best opportunity for growth and contribution.

How did you win the best investment bank in Ghana award?

Investment banking is where we can lead in value addition, and that is where the differentiator for a bank like Stanbic resides. Investment banking is for enabling governments or private investors to navigate difficult terrain and still be able to access the right levels of capital that they need. Our investment banking offering allows us to be the ears and eyes on the ground and also allows us to attract the right caliber of people; it is a strong proposition. We have qualified people and they are the first to see opportunities and are also able to tap product specialists to come in and put deals together. That has been our strategy and it is working very well.

How important is innovation?

We are one of the most dominant banks in the most developed financial services markets of Africa. In terms of modern payments, we are ahead of the curve. What holds us back are certain regulations and also the readiness of our clients. In terms of electronic cards, we probably have the best cards and our ATMs are the most enabled for foreign cards. We see a lot of use of our ATMs by foreigners because we have Visa, MasterCard, and the rest. We also offer Money Wallet, which works globally and is protected from theft. We recently launched an app for smartphones to pay for services, and we are trying to get as many merchants on it as possible. We held a conference recently to encourage direct debits. In Europe and North America, direct debits account for about 60% of payments and cash is less than 5%, but the reverse is true in Africa. Part of the role of Stanbic Bank is to encourage the use of direct debits. We are trying to improve the payments and collection environment to increase efficiency.