US­MAN: MORE IN­VEST­MENT IN IN­FRA­STRUC­TURE IS NEC­ES­SARY TO GROW THE ECON­OMY

THISDAY - - BUSINESS WORLD -

Talk­ing about reach­ing out, what are your plans for ex­pan­sion? Also, what is your com­mu­ni­ca­tion strat­egy now that you are a listed bank?

We started in 2012 with only three branches. One each in Abuja, Kaduna and Kano. Today, we have about 30 branches and these branches cut across at least five out of the six geo-po­lit­i­cal zones of the coun­try. We have al­most cov­ered ev­ery zone of the coun­try with our branch ex­pan­sion and we are con­tin­u­ing to do so be­cause we be­lieve that we should be in all ma­jor com­mer­cial cen­tres to start with across the coun­try. Our com­mu­ni­ca­tion strat­egy is to make use of all model of com­mu­ni­ca­tion to reach out to a com­mu­nity of peo­ple who are in­ter­ested in this mode of bank­ing. They still need to un­der­stand what this prod­uct is all about. At the be­gin­ning we con­cen­trated us­ing ra­dio pro­grammes that are aired reg­u­larly around the ar­eas we are op­er­at­ing as a re­gional bank, which is the North west and North east. As we are now a na­tional bank, we have to spread our ac­tiv­i­ties and com­mu­ni­ca­tion as well. What we are try­ing to do is to use a mix of ra­dio, TVC, so­cial me­dia, and of cause print me­dia. Any­where we go, we make sure that we meet with the me­dia com­mu­nity to have in­ter­ac­tion with them and they help us to con­vey the mes­sage.

You have in­vestors who have been with you over the years and the bot­tom-line for them is for you to make profit and de­clare div­i­dends, what has been your per­for­mance and prospects in this re­gard?

The year 2016 was a very dif­fi­cult year for everybody. But let me say that in the Is­lamic bank­ing world, Jaiz Bank has done ex­cel­lently well. We set a record time for break-even. We broke even in 2014 and since then, we have been mak­ing profit. We made profit in 2015 and even in 2016 in spite of the dif­fi­culty wit­nessed in the econ­omy. This year, 2017, looks bet­ter be­cause fun­da­men­tals have started to im­prove and so our per­for­mance will fol­low the trend of im­proved fun­da­men­tals. We hope and be­lieve that based on 2017 fi­nan­cials, we will be able to pay some div­i­dend.

Most banks have niche. Does Jaiz Bank have a par­tic­u­lar niche mar­ket?

By the cir­cum­stances of our birth, we have been do­ing pro­por­tion­ately more com­mer­cial bank­ing than re­tail bank­ing. But we are now mov­ing to­wards re­tail bank­ing. With the Sukuk, the in­fra­struc­ture for us to sup­port that strat­egy is be­ing put in place. That is to say the urge to do com­mer­cial is go­ing to re­duce while we con­cen­trate more on re­tail bank­ing. So this is where we are driv­ing at. We be­lieve that is the fron­tier be­cause ob­vi­ously, there is a large po­ten­tial cus­tomer base that we should tar­get at the re­tail end and that also makes our op­er­a­tions safer and less prone to this sea­sonal eco­nomic cir­cle that is hap­pen­ing and af­fect­ing ma­jor clients.

One of the is­sues is the chal­leng­ing op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ment, how can gov­ern­ment as­sist the banks to reach many un­banked Nige­ri­ans that are out there to en­hance fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion pol­icy?

One of the most im­por­tant in­ter­ven­tions of gov­ern­ment is to en­sure that ev­ery Nige­rian can be iden­ti­fied. This iden­tity thing is very crit­i­cal. The ad­van­tages are so enor­mous. But our lethargy as a na­tion to be able to ex­e­cute it has been a big prob­lem. If you can iden­tify a per­son, it means you have done 50 per cent of due dili­gence. The next thing to look out for is whether you will be able to ac­com­mo­date the level of fi­nanc­ing he is ask­ing for. This is very crit­i­cal. Of course the is­sue of in­sur­ance, se­cu­rity and other in­fras­truc­tural chal­lenges such as roads and power are equally there be­cause the small busi­nesses you would like to sup­port, if there is no power, they will just die with your money. Gov­ern­ment needs to sup­port and en­sure that enough in­vest­ment is made in in­fra­struc­ture to en­sure that power prob­lem is sorted out and power is made avail­able to as many Nige­ri­ans as pos­si­ble so that they can be able to do some ac­tiv­ity or busi­nesses that the bank can sup­port and the econ­omy grows that way.

What is your last mes­sage to your stake­hold­ers?

I be­lieve that non-in­ter­est fi­nanc­ing is the fastest grow­ing sub-sec­tor of the fi­nan­cial sys­tem glob­ally. It is grow­ing at an av­er­age of 15 to 20 per cent per an­num. It is a strong growth area and it is be­ing adopted in ma­jor fi­nan­cial cen­tres around the world. It is a more dis­ci­plined way of fi­nanc­ing and more con­ser­va­tive. It is more re­al­is­tic. It is a sys­tem that tries to avoid the cre­ation of pa­per as­sets rather it cre­ate as­sets that are sup­ported by re­al­ity. It is prof­itable and it is grow­ing fast. The ev­i­dence can be seen from Jaiz Bank. We have been grow­ing at about 30 per cent per an­num over the last five years. So to all our stake­hold­ers, we as­sure them of the fact that Jaiz Bank is here to stay and also go­ing to be adding greater value to the econ­omy and to all our counter par­ties. The sys­tem is quite sus­tain­able. It is sup­ported by the re­al­ity of the econ­omy and the spe­cific sit­u­a­tion of our com­mer­cial trans­ac­tions. I be­lieve we will achieve our plans and vi­sion, which is to be a clear leader in this sec­tor and to be a very se­ri­ous con­tender in the rank and file of fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions es­pe­cially banks in Nige­ria and sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa. To those who want to be as­so­ci­ated with growth in prof­itabil­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity, Jaiz Bank is the way to go.

Us­man

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