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The Access Bank UK sees strong growth in key markets

The main focus of the bank lies in building and strengthening customer relationships in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Mena region

The Access Bank UK, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Access Bank Plc, is committed to developing a sustainable business model for the environment in which it operates. This is reflected in the bank’s efforts to deliver premium customer service and build long-term relationships through customer partnerships. In essence, The Access Bank UK plays a significant role in the Group’s vision to be the world’s most respected African bank. 

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

In 2018, the bank became a direct member of the three key UK payment clearing systems: Bankers’ Automated Clearing Service (Bacs), Cheque and Credit Clearing Company’s Image Clearing System (C&CCC) and Faster Payments.  In this context, The Access Bank UK Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director 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.”

Key offerings strengthen market presence 

The main focus of The Access Bank UK lies in strengthening customer relationships to further expand and grow in key markets. In practice, the bank provides trade finance, commercial banking, private banking and asset management for customers in their dealings with Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) markets and support companies seeking to invest in and trade in sub-Saharan Africa, the Mena region and Asian markets. 

The Access Bank UK’s commercial banking team offers relationship-based service for corporate and individual customers — and a wide range of products and services with a choice of competitive rates, market leading systems and top-quality service. That said, its global private bank has been established for delivering excellent investment solutions to clients who value trust, integrity, accountability and investment performance.  The bank takes a proactive approach to product and service delivery — and a highly experienced private banking team offers unique investment solutions which are tailored to customer needs.

The bank’s Dubai branch offers a broad range of products and services to assist customers with trade and investment needs in the Mena region, 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 effective so far. The bank’s combined presence in Dubai, the UK and Nigeria delivers a wealth of expertise that significantly benefits customers. 

Customer fundamentals of The Access Bank UK 

The Access Bank UK said, “We take time to build long-term relationships and work closely with our customers to understand their goals in order to create a strategy designed to meet their needs. We provide constant support and development opportunities for our employees, which 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. 

“Our staff are highly experienced and many have spent time working in the Sub-Saharan, West African and international marketplaces. We are firmly committed to the diversity of our workforce. We encourage a sense of individual ownership while also fostering team spirit. Our aim is to help employees realise their potential through the provision of continuous learning opportunities and the tools and training to support professional growth.”

Overall, the bank’s broad range of services is able to support business activities in sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the world. The International Finance Corporation awarded the bank with Confirming Bank status as part of its global trade finance programme — further reinforcing the bank’s trade finance capabilities. 

Growth and success in the Nigerian market 

Interestingly, The Access Bank UK was the first Nigerian bank in the UK to be appointed as a correspondent bank to the Central Bank of Nigeria to undertake infrastructure work on behalf of the Nigerian government. The bank also issues Letters of Credit on behalf of the Nigerian government and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). 

“Our people are fundamental to our bank’s continued development. They provide the skills that deliver our focus on service and customer relationships. Reflecting this, during the year we selectively recruited additional members to the team and also invested more in professional development,” Jamie Simmonds further added. “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 we have made in training and development. The bank is currently working in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) programmes.”

Notable  performance is recorded year-on-year

Recently, The Access Bank UK released its Report and Statutory Accounts 2019  titled “Expanding our horizons — Africa’s gateway to the world” which highlights its strong operational performance by the strategic business units and continued growth in sub-Saharan Africa and the Mena region. The bank has demonstrated yet another year of significant all-round growth, achieving and exceeding targets for all of the main growth strategies. Operating income increased by 20 percent year-on-year to $85.2 million, with all four strategic business units performing well. Pre-tax profits overall grew significantly by 30 percent to $57.2 million.

The trade finance operation continues to be the bank’s largest strategic business unit. Income grew by 28 percent year-on-year to $40.4 million, of which $12.4 million was accounted for by correspondent banking. That said, commercial banking income was higher than anticipated at $30.6 million representing 5 percent year-on-year growth while asset management income rose by 15 percent to $2.6 million. 

Dubai is the newest strategic business unit and a significant performer, with income reaching $7.5 million, pointing to an increase of 168 percent year-on-year. This success is founded on the bank’s strong relationship model and is a testament to the trust it has established among Middle Eastern clients.

“Among many notable developments during the year, the bank now has a mandate to develop the group’s international interests, as it progresses towards global bank status. Our clearly defined role is a logical outcome of the successful merger with Diamond Bank and we welcome the opportunity it gives us,” Jamie Simmonds said in regard to the bank’s recently published results. 

Herbert Wigwe, Chairman and Non-Executive Director, said, “The bank’s successes of 2019 were achieved without any significant contribution from Diamond Bank customers, which we expect will feed through during 2020 and beyond.”

With that, Jamie Simmonds also recalls his experience in financial services and the bank’s trajectory over the years: “Throughout my experience in financial services my guiding principles have been to deliver excellent customer service and provide innovative solutions for the customers and markets that we service. I have been involved in the turnaround of several existing businesses by going back to these basic principles and rebuilding from the ground up. When I established the Access Bank UK Ltd in January 2008 it was at a turbulent time in banking but we set the risk appetite, the processes and procedures and developed products that our customers wanted. We have built the bank steadily but sustainably and have a balance sheet of over £1.5 billion.”

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