Two influential but mid-level bankers reached out last night. They wanted to resign and change careers. They were frustrated and just tired of the system.
I tried to calm them and ask what was the problem. They were just tired. The monotony, the bully, the abuse, and the boredom of pushing the same routine day in and day out.
I once was privileged to attend an MPR session of one of the top five banks by proxy.
I so happened to be with the banker when she was logged in by zoom during the MPR
Words like,’ idiot, you fool, you are telling me rubbish and don’t try this stupidity next time’ were freely used by the divisional head who bereft of any leadership skill resorted to just primitive abuse and threat.
My friend was in trepidation as the swivel was getting to her. I could see that she was physically apprehensive as her voice began to quake. She said,’ Edgar, this woman does not like me, she will kill me.
Truly when it got to her turn, the woman screamed,’ you, you lie a lot. I don’t even know why I should waste my time to listen to you’
My friend greeted her and got a loud hiss. Pls, how much did you bring last week? She barked.
My friend who is a branch head on the mainland of a high profile bank muttered N20m and almost got her head yanked off.
Next was a threat, ‘ pls if you don’t bring in N150m by weekend don’t bother, I am tired’ ‘
After the meeting, my friend burst into tears. She cried like a baby and I began to wonder how she would bring in the N150m in this state.
She had come to me to assist and made me listen to the MPR so that I can be moved to ‘help’
A married woman with kids. Her husband was a fashion designer, she was literally the breadwinner. At this state, she was vulnerable and open to abuse and I must say this is the lot of most bankers worse off the female ones
My other friend is faring better. She is also in a top 5 bank and works out of the head office. Her woe is the series of long, seemingly headless meetings that lead to nowhere.
She is in a ferment and is just looking at a once shining career get rusty. She is middle-aged and with a once in a 5-year promotion circle has come to the realization that it’s over.
My other banker friend Charles once told me that most bankers suffer from high blood pressure and its other brother diabetes as a result of the pressure, unhealthy work hours leading to dietary inefficiencies
Our banks today suffer from a debilitating leadership comprising of hedonistic and opportunistic visionless driven moguls who are in a very unhealthy competition to show leadership without necessarily instilling a robust strategy for growth.
They resort to roadside tactics that deliver really nothing to the table as 80% of the huge incomes delivered are from forex transactions, patronage and other wholesale practices that has nothing to do with the branch manager at Isale Eko
My big aunty who is retiring from a top 2 position in one of the bigger banks had nothing but gratitude to God.
She said,’ Joe, I am going for a long cruise. I am going to Morocco. I will fly by helicopter to the cruise ship and just waste my money
That is the joy she got from getting out of the hell hole. She had given the industry over 35years and although the industry has done well for her, she still would not look back.
Joe, I almost went into a fisticuff with a fellow director. Joe, I can’t do it anymore. It’s abusive and tiring she said.
I am organizing a big party for her.
The banks are wallowing on an inept positioning following their inability to compete favorably with the dynamism of the changing marketplace.
Fintech and technology have brought inefficiencies that the huge banking franchises can not keep up with their ballooning costs.
The almost none existent regulation by the CBN of Finetech allows for easy entry and quick market capture without the red tape of regulatory-led account opening and monitoring activities that the banks have to meet daily.
This has led to a Naira for Naira defeat of the banks in the marketplace by very serious fintech operations.
The volumes there are massive and although the margins are little, the volumes allow for quick turnover which is the mainstay of the very low-cost feature of their business
The big banks on the other hand carry a huge cost profile esp with the top 5% of their human capital earning almost 80% of their income thus cannot play in that space efficiently
Bogged down by regulatory red tape, critical decision making is lethargic and painfully slow, led by human capital that was trained in the old markets of the 90’s and coming of age in the dizzying age of technology, you begin to understand their penchant for old school banking of ‘go and bring the money instead of a constructive engagement of the evolving market place
So what do you get, a huge catchment of frustrated ‘used to be brilliant people who no longer have the energy to move being led by oligarchs who will now resort to bullying and abuse to coax performance.
Franchises like Wema, GTB, Zenith, and Access have built competing platforms that are taking the fight to the millennial fintech moguls.
They have restructured their human capacity in that space, acquired technology, and have adequate branding that has made them play right in that space
And brilliantly have also positioned themselves as the funnel inflow channel for all the massive retail collections by the Fintech giving them the last laugh positioning on the new market
But that said, banking as we used to know is ‘dead’. Our major banking franchises would have to embark on a serious soul searching and professional didactic engagement if they are to survive the next ten years.
Let me boldly state that any major bank today that does not evolve very strategically according to the dictates of what the market is saying will be dead in 10years no matter the size.
We can see that Titan a small franchise of just 150 people just swallowed a giant Union Bank with over 3,000 staff.
This I will boldly say is as a result of Union Bank not being able to achieve a war boat turnaround in market positioning and I dare say, the prognosis for the new bank as a result of this merger is not bright.
I give it five years at the max. If not well-curated and trimmed and repositioned, it will die. Simple.
My advise, is for the industry to evolve and very quickly so. It’s training, its a strategy for market penetration and acquisition, it’s leadership and ethos must immediately reflect the engagements of the new markets.
Pushing 90s strategy of expansionist banking isn’t working today.
Let’s not see how huge franchises die In our very eyes.
Editor in Chief