By Iheanyi Nwachukwu
Fidelity Bank PLC, a leading Deposit Money Bank in Nigeria’s retail banking space with about six million customers across its 250 branches, has always set the bar when it comes to its leadership. It is worthy of note that in its 33 years of existence, the lender has had only four CEOs. After a meritorious service spanning six years , the former Managing Director, Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo, passed the baton of leadership to Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe in what is perhaps, the smoothest transitioning in corporate Nigeria. Indeed, Mrs Onyeali-Ikpe was part of Mr Okonkwo’s team having worked with him as the Executive Director for Lagos and South West as a critical part of his transformational team.
Since assuming office as the first female CEO of Fidelity Bank PLC on January 1, 2021, Mrs Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe has provided remarkable leadership that has further amplified the Bank’s pay off: “we keep our word.” With over 30 years of banking experience, Onyeali-Ikpe has kept her word. Her time in the first half of the year has set the bank on a path of continuous growth and improvement. This can be seen from the Q1 2021 unaudited results of the Bank. According to Proshare, ‘Fidelity Bank’s Q1 ‘21 PBT beat our forecasts soundly’. PBT grew by 54% to N10.1b from N6.6b, gross earnings grew by 7.7% to N55b from N51b and PAT grew by 64% to N9.6b from N5.9b from the previous quarter. Going by this trajectory and from all indications, the Bank is on course for another good performance in Q2.
Onyeali-Ikpe has skillfully challenged the status quo with subtle but innovative strategies while working to elevate Fidelity Bank to the top tier of financial institutions. Upon resumption, she outlined seven key pillars on which theleadership of the bank would rest- all of them geared towards positioning Fidelity Bank PLC as an industry leader. These pillars are Brand Refresh, Workforce Transformation, Accelerated Growth, Digital Transformation, Service Excellence, Performance Discipline and Innovation.
Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe’s medium term focus will include but not limited to:
• Repositioning Fidelity Bank to be the leading Business Transformation and Innovations/Solutions Provider for sustainable business acceleration.
• Dominate mind and market share and deepen Fidelity Bank’s market share positioning to customers and consumers.
Strengthen market and consumer knowledge among the workforce through training and empowerment so they can be best among peers.
• Build and drive digital capabilities and optimize critical business processes by developing data and business intelligence systems.
Mrs. Onyeali-Ikpe has participated in several initiatives at Fidelity Bank including the issuance of a $400m euro bond and more recently, the issuance of a 10-year N41.2 billion local corporate bond – the largest corporate bond ever issued by a Nigerian bank. These bonds are currently listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and the FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange, allowing bond investors to trade on the securities.
The Bank will further restructure to focus on Solutioning, Scope of value generation, speed/efficiency and return on investment. Staff will be trained to be game-changers, idea merchants, multi-skilled innovators and smart thinkers. This process has commenced with the introduction of Alpha One and One Culture Projects- both geared at empowering staff to be highly motivated.
Fidelity Bank will re-purpose strongly on social relationship management and build ground influence mapping and activation into the local and global space to the benefit of the financial community and society at large.
Mrs. Onyeali-Ikpe has proven to be an astute leader in the six months she has been in the saddle as evidenced by her various strategic plans and agenda. With a very deep and diverse experience spanning Treasury Management, Legal Services, Corporate, Investment, Retail and Commercial Banking at various financial institutions which include the former Citizens Bank, Zenith Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and Enterprise Bank, she has participated in the structuring of complex transactions in different economic sectors including oil & gas, aviation, real estate and exports. Prior to joining Fidelity Bank, she was an Executive Director at Enterprise Bank.
Mrs Onyeali-Ikpe is a transformational leader and a major change agent. The future is undoubtedly bright as validated by the unaudited Q1 2021 results and Fidelity Bank will remain a major and key player in the Nigerian Banking sector under the able leadership of Mrs Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe.
• Nwachukwu is a certified financial and business analyst.