International Finance

The Access Bank UK Ltd: Winner of International Finance Awards 2019

Access Bank UK

The Access Bank UK, winner of International Finance Award 2019, has been doing outstanding work in boosting trade between UK, Africa and the MENA region through its award-winning trade finance services, giving it a unique position among banks in the region. 

The Access Bank UK leverages specialist skills in trade finance and is in a strong position to support companies all over the world in their trade financing activities into Sub-Saharan Africa. The bank’s team of experienced trade experts work closely with corporate customers to understand their trade flows in order to propose solutions appropriate to the target country, leveraging on the bank’s extensive network of banking relationships on the African continent. 

The bank also offers correspondent banking services to a number of financial institutions across Sub-Saharan Africa supporting their international trade flows.  An important factor is that the bank regularly leads and partners with peers in the area of risk participation as a way to maximise its trade capacity. In addition, The Access Bank UK also collaborates with development financial institutions on a regular basis to support appropriate medium to long term projects on the continent.

DIFC branch the geographical hub between the East and the West

The bank’s regulated branch in Dubai International Financial Centre is ideally positioned as the geographical hub between the East and the West and Africa, to harness the growing appetite among the established economies of China, India, and Singapore for developing stronger trade links in the MENA region and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Dubai team at the DIFC branch offer bespoke services tailored to meet customer business requirements. The strong links that the DIFC branch has with the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa ensure that it has an in-depth knowledge of the marketplace and is able to assist customers with their transactions and investments. 

The Access Bank UK Dubai branch offers a broad range of products and services to assist customers with trade and investment needs in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa. The DIFC Branch is committed to building a long-lasting relationship in the region in line with the approach that has proven so effective for The Access Bank UK. The combination of the Dubai office together with our presence in the UK and Nigeria delivers a wealth of expertise that significantly benefits our customers. 

Access Private Bank offers in-house approach

Many high net worth customers who utilise The Access Bank UK for trade finance and commercial banking services also use its asset management and private banking services for their personal financial interests in the UK. 

Access Private Bank offers in-house investment approach and a commitment to understanding customers and their needs to offer tailor-made investment solutions. Its dedicated and experienced private bankers use a range of investment products including both discretionary and execution only portfolios. Access Private Bank provides updates on portfolio developments on a regular basis. Customers have instant access to their discretionary investment portfolios through the bank’s online valuation facility.  Access Private Bank also supports UK Investor Visa applications by working closely with the UK Investor Visa specialist to provide facilities or to create a bespoke discretionary managed investment portfolio. In addition, the bank offers loans secured on UK properties or the value of investments that can be used to secure a loan. 

The Access Bank UK records strong results

The Access Bank UK has recorded yet another year of significant all-round growth in 2018, achieving and exceeding its targets for all the main growth strategies. Operating income was up 47 percent year-on-year to £53 million, with all four strategic business units performing well. Pre-tax profits overall grew significantly by 50 percent to £33 million and the pre-tax return on equity rose to 18.3 percent, up from 16.6 percent in 2017. 

The bank’s trade finance operation continues to be its largest strategic business unit. Income at the unit grew by 20 percent year-on-year to £23.7 million, of which £9.3 million was accounted for by correspondent banking, representing annual growth of 45 percent. 

Commercial banking had another strong year, with income growing by 90 percent to £21.9 million while asset management income rose by 13 percent to £1.7 million. 

The bank achieved the return of the initial investment to establish the operation in Dubai a year earlier than anticipated. The income of £2.1 million represents year-on-year growth of 213 percent in what was only its second full year of operation, and reinforcing the fact that the Dubai market offers considerable potential.

Measured expansion into Sub Saharan Africa

The bank recorded across-the-board growth during 2018, a year which was also notable for its measured expansion in Sub-Saharan Africa and for recouping the investment in its key Dubai operation in only its second full year of operation. 

The provision of trade finance solutions continues to be the bank’s largest business activity. In addition to its role as confirming bank for Access Bank Plc, one of the year’s highlights was the continued development of correspondent banking activities more broadly within Sub-Saharan Africa. This included expanding the bank’s reach to a number of other African countries, in particular in Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania, with its proven correspondent banking offer.

The successful introduction of a number of innovative products, tailored specifically for corporate customers, and organic growth among its existing customer base, contributed to the growth of the bank’s trade finance offering.

Jamie Simmonds, chief executive officer and managing director of The Access Bank UK commented on the results: “The bank’s growth has flowed naturally from the strength of dynamic customer relationships and the trust that comes from the continuity of delivery by the same team.”

International Finance Corporation awards The Access Bank UK confirming bank status

The Access Bank UK provides a number of services to support business activities in Sub-Saharan Africa and across the world. The bank was awarded confirming bank status by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) as part of their Global Trade Finance Programme, thereby strengthening its trade finance capabilities further. The bank was also the first Nigerian Bank in the UK to be appointed as correspondent bank to the Central Bank of Nigeria to undertake infrastructure work on behalf of the Nigerian government. It also issues letters of credit on behalf of the Nigerian government and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The Access Bank UK was the first UK based Nigerian bank to become an IFC confirming bank.  This partnership enables the Bank to develop low-risk solutions for a range of its customers. 

The Access Bank UK works closely with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the MDAs (ministries, departments, and agencies), the World Bank and other funding banks, and the government contractors to support medium to long terms infrastructure projects with the objective to develop infrastructure in Africa. Projects supported by The Access Bank UK in the last decade include but are not limited to: the Niger Delta Power Holding  (NDPHC), National Integrated Power Project (NIPP), Nigeria Electricity and Gas Improvement Project, PHCN PMU (funded by the World Bank), electrification projects under the Rural Energy Agency (REA) Tanzania (funded by Rural Energy Fund (REF)), engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts under Electricity Company of Ghana, and the power generation project under the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC), among many others. 

The Access Bank UK is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Access Bank, a Nigerian Stock Exchange listed company. In addition to providing trade finance, commercial banking, private banking and asset management products and services for customers in their dealings with Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) markets, the bank also supports companies that seek to invest in and trade in Sub-Saharan Africa, MENA and Asian markets. 

The bank is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the PRA. The Access Bank UK Limited – Dubai Branch, situated in the iconic Gate Building of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), is regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA). 

Committed to developing a sustainable business model 

Like Access Bank Plc, The Access Bank UK is committed to developing a sustainable business model for the environment in which it operates. This is reflected in the bank’s moderate appetite for risk, its dedication to customer service, as well as commitment to build long-term relationships by working in partnership with its customers. 

The Access Bank UK drives the development and growth of The Access Bank Group’s international business interests, through four strategic business units supported by its treasury team. Each of the units are charged with increasing its international reach, using a combination of outstanding service and innovative products, to leverage already strong customer relationships while maintaining the bank’s moderate risk appetite. 

The Access Bank UK’s relationship-based philosophy continues to drive the growth being delivered as part of the bank’s third five-year plan. The bank is confident that this strong focus on relationships will enable the bank to build on the achievements delivered to date, despite the current challenges resulting from the headwinds in some global markets.

Herbert Wigwe, chairman and non-executive director said, “The Access Bank UK was founded to establish a credible, sustainable OECD hub for The Access Bank Group. This was achieved with commendable efficiency while also becoming a successful and profitable business on its own right.” 

In 2018 the bank became a direct member of the three key UK payment clearing systems: Bacs (Bankers’ Automated Clearing Services), C&CCC (Cheque and Credit Clearing Company’s Image Clearing System) and Faster Payments. In this regard, The Access Bank UK’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Jamie Simmonds said: “This is a great landmark for us, enabling us to build a sustainable platform with direct entry into the UK payment clearing system. This will enable us to enhance the level of service our customers receive. We have a clear commitment to strong customer service and we anticipate and respond quickly to market needs with the right technology, products, and services. Joining the UK payment clearing system is a clear example of meeting the needs of our customers.”

The Access Bank UK’s commercial banking team offers relationship-based services for corporate and individual customers. It offers a wide range of products and services with a choice of competitive rates, market leading systems, and top-quality service. 

The Access Bank UK takes time to build long-term relationships and works closely with its customers to understand their goals in order to create a strategy designed to meet their needs. The bank provides constant support and development opportunities for its employees, that reflects in their dedication and professionalism. The bank is led by a team of accomplished individuals determined to deliver superior financial solutions for business and individuals. The Access Bank UK staff are highly experienced and many have spent time working in the Sub-Saharan, West African, and international marketplaces. 

Jamie Simmonds added: “Our people are fundamental to our bank’s continued development. They provide the skills that deliver our focus on service and customer relations. Reflecting this, during the year, we selectively recruited additional members to the team and also invested more in professional development. We were the first Nigerian bank to achieve Investors in People accreditation. We have now advanced our status to Gold. We believe that our consistently low staff turnover rate reflects in part the advances that we have made in training and development. The bank is currently working in partnership with BPP professional apprenticeships and the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) programmes”. 

 “The completion of The Access Bank UK’s first decade of trading was one of the year’s major milestones. It has been a period during which the bank earned a reputation for innovation and flexibility, outperformed its own targets and, thanks to the enduring strength of its customer relationships, has built the foundations for its continued progression,” Herbert Wigwe added.

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