Sunday, 30 October 2011

My vision is for Mainstreet to be in theleague of GTB, Zenith and First Bank

Ms Faith Tuedor-Matthews is the Group
Managing Director/CEO of Mainstreet
Bank, formerly AfriBank. She spoke on
her recent appointment as the GMD of
the bank and her plans to transform the
once vibrant bank, among other issues.
Introduction and background of
My name is Faith Tuedor-Matthews, I am
the Group Managing Director/CEO,
Mainstreet Bank, I have almost 26 years
banking experience, virtually, all I have
done in my life is banking in terms of
work, I came back to the country in 1984
after my Masters Degree in University of
My first job was actually in UBA PLC,
Ibadan, and since then all I have done is
banking. I work for UBA for a number
of years and moved on to work in Devcom
Merchant Bank for a very short time,
then I moved to Ecobank Transnational,
where I worked for many years as GM. I
also moved on to Standard Trust Bank as
an Executive Director.
We merged with UBA and I found myself
back to UBA where I started my career as
an Executive Director as well. I rose to the
position of Deputy Managing Director in
UBA before I resigned from UBA, and
four weeks after, I was appointed to run
the old Afribank which is now Mainstreet
Bank. So, I found myself here to rebuild a
once great institution and to actually
make it greater.
I have talked a little bit about myself, Let
me talk about my team and the mandate
that I have here. On August 4, 2011,
Mainstreet Bank was formed, and I was
appointed as CEO. Mallam Falolu Bello is
the Chairman of the Bank. I am the
GMD/CEO. I have five executive directors
working with me.
What is your assignment in mainstreet
Basically, what we are trying to do here is
to build a strong bank. When I say a
strong bank, I mean a bank that is strong
in terms of efficient processes, offers
excellent service delivery and also has very
good people. The mandate I have is to
rebuild the bank, try and stablise the bank
and re focus it in terms of the market,
make it profitable and in the long run
make it attractive for investors. We all
know that monies have been pumped into
this bank. So, there is need for us to make
it attractive and add value to the
institution so that government can realize
the money they have pumped into the
bank, and bring in a good buyer into the
bank if it is possible.
My mandates also include making the
bank to have a very rich legacy. I think it
was formed 50 years ago, and was called
IBWA (International Bank for West
Africa).It is still a very strong bank
because it has a very strong brand. They
have customers that are still very loyal in
spite of all the issues the bank had gone
through all the years. The customers are
still very loyal to the bank and we still
have a lot of workforce that have shown a
good degree of loyalty to the bank.
On assumption of office what immediate
steps did you take?
When we came aboard on August 5th, we
decided there are a number of things we
needed to do to stabilise the bank
immediately. There were issues such as
staff morale, apprehension, anxieties
about what their fate was, and so, there
was need to actually calm them down, and
we started by having town hall meetings
all over the country. I had to meet with the
staff and try and just douse the tension.
All was well, and all of them, their jobs
were secured.
We all needed to work together as a team
to rebuild the institution. This was
another opportunity, because there has
been successive intervention by
government to reposition the bank but
each one had met with different
challenges. So, my job was to first of all,
to really calm the workforce, and I am
glad to say we have been able to do that.
All the staff is back on the payroll of
Mainstream Bank on their existing pay
and on the job they do. It was a long
exercise and it was successful.
After this, we also went further to
identify the gaps in the system. Clearly,
when you look at the bank, it’s a mixture
of old and new generation banks in terms
of attitude and processes. I and my team
met with all the departmental heads and
all the Units to identify what are the
issues, what are the challenges, what can
we do together, and it’s been very
revealing, it has been very good for us.
We understand there are gaps, and we are
looking at feeling these gaps.
How are you filling the gaps?
We know that there are gaps in the
system and processes. For instance, you
all know that technology is the driver of
businesses in modern banking, we have
some challenges in this area and we are
addressing it. We are also bringing new
people to see how we can become more
competitive. My shareholder, the MD of
AMCON, told me to go and run the bank
like any other commercial banks, and not
with the stigma of a state owned or not
state owned. So, what I am doing is to run
Mainstreet the way you will run
FirstBank and Zenith, GTbank,and that
is what we have been doing.
How have you first seventy days in office
I must say, over the last 70 days, if you
look at our record, we have done very well.
Two days ago, we had a profitability
report. It was like a performance session,
and before now the bank did not have a
system where you measure people’s
performance. People just come to office
and work without performance
evaluation. We needed to change that
organizational structure which we did.
We have now structured our business.
What we did is along geography. We
found that there was no ownership, there
was no accountability, and where there is
no ownership and accountability, nobody
is accountable.
What did you do then?
What we did was that if you go to a
branch, for example, you know that a
manager is responsible for the branch.
Before now, we had three different units,
everybody reporting to the Head Office.
So if you have a problem and you go to the
Branch, nobody is responsible. We felt it
was necessary to change that structure to
one whereby the Manager is the Head of
the Branch. There are Units that still
reports to the Head Office, and the
Manager is responsible for the
performance of that Branch.
What we did was to move people around
and put them in the right position. It was
also an extensive exercise and we’ve been
able to do that. We have also been able to
have a performance review session.
I actually ran that session myself as the
CEO for two weeks and we invited all our
regional directors from all over the
country to review our performance and
also to chart the way forward so that there
is clear understanding. For me really, we
need to get the buying in of staff because
the staffs are the ones on ground and
they need to buy into the vision, and this
is what we are going to be doing regularly
until we are able to get the right culture
and attitude to work. I must say it was a
very good meeting.
Are you satisfied with the technology you
have in place now
In the area of technology, we are also
looking at it. We have some technology
but the application is what we need to look
at very critically, so we are talking to two
companies that might help us deploy
application platforms that can be easily
deployed and that can enable us drive our
business faster. We are looking at the
technology that can allow our ATM, and
POS to be very effective and also help us
not to replicate the bricks and mortar
We have 200 branches presently. With
these 200 branches, if we have the
technology working as it should be coupled
with other channels of providing banking
services, we should be able to reposition the
bank. Most banks are moving all over the
world from bricks and mortar to other
channels of providing banking services. So
that is what we are doing on the
technology side.
What about the staff on ground, are you
comfortable with them?
On the staff’s side, we need to do a lot of
training; we need to retool our people. So
we are going to embark on culture
orientation to ensure that our people are
actually trained to be able to operate
within the competitive environment. We
want to be in the league of banks like the
ones I mentioned earlier. So, that is where
I see. My vision for Mainstreet is to be,
when you call GTB, you call Mainstreet.
I really do not see the institution anything
less, and when you look at the caliber of
management from the Chairman to
Management that are driving the
institution, most of us are from those
types of Banks. I believe if we have been
able to be so successful, and it is
something we can do here and do it
quickly and properly because we have the
experience and the expertise.
Mainstreet has no history?
The former Afribank is a very solid
institution that has had challenges. These
challenges can be handled and we are
fortunate our balance sheet had been
cleaned-up by AMCON, and all our bad
loans, most of them have been taken out
and we are still taking some of them to
AMCON in order to meet the statutory 5
percent Non performing loans NPL ratio
that we are going to achieve. AMCON has
injected about N319 billion into Mainstreet
Bank and so with that we are fully
capitalized. We have strong liquidity and
in fact, in our book, there is no corporate
body that does not have an account in
Mainstreet Bank.
For instance, we have Julius Berger with
us, and they bank with us actively, so
most of the corporate bodies are our
customers. For the Joint Admission and
Matriculation Board JAMB, we have a
very strong collection business. So the
former Afribank is an institution that is
very solid in spite of all it had went
through. We believe that we have
something to work with, we still have the
customers, and what we are doing now is
actually reactivation of these relationships
with our customers.
Once we are able to deploy the right IT,
retool and retrain our people, refocus the
market and get that public trust and
confidence. Banking is a business about
trust and confidence. Your customers
have to trust and have confidence in you,
so what we need to is to rebuild that
confidence and that trust. We have been
there before and what we can do is to
reposition Mainstreet to where it was, and
with the result we are getting it is possible.
It is daunting though.
I have sleepless night, likewise my
colleagues because there are issues that
crops up and we have to tackle them as
they come along. I think so far we are
very much on course, we are focused. I
believe that as a person whatever you want
to do if you have the passion you can
never fail in what you do. That has been
my philosophy and that is what has been
driving me. I believe in this institution
that we are running and by the very grace
of God, we would be able to achieve as the
confidence had been reposed on all of us,
we would deliver on it.
What sectors and market segments are
you actually targeting?
We are commercial bank. When a bank
has more than 200 branches across the
country, you are actually a commercial
bank. And when you are a commercial
bank, you focus really is retail business.
The whole idea of commercial bank is
taking its services to the nook and cranny
of the country. So, we focus on the retail,
we focus on the consumer business. We
also have a corporate and investment
banking directorate and we have an
Executive Director driving that area. So,
we do the whole gamut of banking- we do
retail, commercial banking, we also bank
government agencies and states
government. So our focus is typically what
every commercial bank does.
Would you say that trust is back to this
bank, and are all stakeholders buying into
the idea?
Trust is not something that you earn one
day. It takes time to build trust. And
when we talk of our stakeholders, they
include our customers, our staff, our
shareholders and the general public. We
say general public like people like you the
press, maybe you do not bank with us ,
and after this meeting you say I trust this
lady, let me bank with them. So trust is
built over time. We cannot say we are
there but we are trying.
What am I saying? I have been in the
banking industry for a number of years. I
have friends, I have family, and I have
customers that I have banked, so those
people they trust me, the same with my
colleagues, and because of the trust they
have in us, they will translate that trust
into where we are now. So if they trust us,
they will trust the institution, and we on
our part also ensure we understand what
their needs are and deliver our services in
such a way that the customer is
comfortable. So trust is something that
we have to earn, and it takes time.
If you come to our banking halls, they
way you were served, and if you use our
ATM; the way we relate with you at every
touch points is what will build trust. I
think we are on a journey, and I think we
are getting there. For most of us, we have
been in the industry, the banking
industry is a service industry, and for me,
when I look at the industry, the
differentiating factor is service, because
all banks are the same, we offer similar
products but calls them different names.
For me, the differentiating factor is the
customer experience: how does the
customer feel anytime they come in, if
you are my friend and I am not there
while you came to the banking hall, what
was your experience? For me building
customer experience and intimacy are
things that are very important.
So these are the things that we want to
build in Mainstreet Bank and I believe if
we are able to do this, you will see integrity
inn us. You will see professionalism in us;
you will see people that really care in us. I
think with that we will be able to build our
trust. I can’t say we have achieved this but
we are on that part and with every
stakeholders support we will get there while
doing our part.
The transition from Afribank to
Mainstreet, was the name change
technically imperative?
I think it was imperative to change the
name because if you follow the history of
the all the banks that were nationalised,
and the issues in the industry in the last
few years, it’s imperative to change the
name. The Executive management and
the Board were always at logger heads even
with investors that showed interest so it
became difficult for the regulator to move
forward with the transaction because of
all kinds of litigation and all kinds of
issues that came up. So, the only thing to
do and the right thing to have done were
to change the name of the bank, not just
the name but also ownership.
Faith Tuedor-Matthews
I think the bank was liquidated. If a bank
was liquidated it exist as a company in
CAC but as a bank the license was
canceled, it was withdrawn and that bank
does not exist. Of course, if a bank does
not exist there has to be a new name. So,
it’s not just that Afribank was changed
to Mainstreet bank that is not what
The bank was liquidated and the asset and
liability was assumed by the NDIC and a
new bank was licensed and took over its
asset and liability. So it’s not just that
Afribank was changed. There was a
process that was followed. It wasn’t just a
name change. It went through a deeper
process. It was liquidated and its asset and
liability was moved, and a new bank was
created. That was what happened and
the records are there to show that is what
What risks do you perceive now and in the
coming years?
I think the whole banking business is all
about risks. There are all kinds of risks,
risk in the credit we give, market risk in
the environment we operate, we have
operational risks, and there is also societal
risks out there. I think for us, the
greatest risk is the credit risk. We have
money and we need money that we will use
to trade, we have bad loans taken from us,
and the other risks are the ones from the
everyday business- the risk that somebody
will defraud you, and those ones we have
systems and structure and processes that
we are putting in place to mitigate those
What were the challenges you met on
ground when you assumed office?
There were a number of litigations all over
the place. And we have challenges on IT,
but these are things that we can address,
and as you see the head office building, I
would like it to look nicer and I want our
reception to look a little bit nicer. We
have too many staff. I think it is a big
issue, and we are looking at how we can
make them more productive. It is not a
problem to have too many staff as long as
they are productive. The total staff
strength here is over 4,000.
So, we have a large workforce with a large
concentration of staff at the Head
Office and we are looking at how to make
them more productive. We also have the
challenge of acceptance by the public. It
is a big challenge because we are going
through a change. We need to do a lot of
confidence building because some people
say why I should bank with you again; I
don’t know what’s going to happen
So we need to build that confidence. That
is also a challenge. We are also working
on a public relations campaign to
reintroduce the brand to tell people who we
are and what we stand for and what we
have set out to achieve. As I said before,
we have a very strong and dynamic
management team, the market is there;
we have capital that we can give to people,
we have good products. There is no reason
why we can’t compete with any other
bank. But we need to address people’s
minds and their fears that they can trust
us. You can put your money with us and
go to sleep.
Why should the public trust you?
You can trust us because I have over 26
years banking experience, and I have the
competences and I have colleagues, and if
you put all of us together, it’s over a 100
years’ experience that we all have. And
we’ve all worked up to the senior level to the
Board level of banks, and we have a
shareholder, 100 per cent by sovereign list,
and we have the capital. So people should
trust us and have that confidence in our
There seemed to be no panic withdrawals
on nationalisation
Let me start with run on banks and
whether we have deposit. I think, clearly,
following the announcements it is
expected that people would withdraw
money out of panic but we didn’t
witnessed significant drop in deposits even
within the first two weeks. We actually
witnessed deposits withdrawal but it wasn’t
significant. What happened was that
the regulator and government actually
took steps to reduce that from happening
among the banks and even among
government agencies.
Monies were not allowed to move out for no
reason at that time, especially for
government funds. On the individual
customers, some of them expressed
apprehension initially. What happened
was that our people were on top of their
game. So throughout that week, we were
out engaging the customers. We found
out that even the little money that went
out actually came back in. So the panic
wasn’t as much.
Shareholders reaction
AMCON is my shareholder. We run as a
commercial bank and not as government
banks. My shareholder does not interfere
in the way I run my business. What I am
to do is to run the bank, stabilize the
bank, make it profitable, return
dividends, and make it attractive for sale.
The chairman of AMCON told me that
you guys must return dividends, because
it’s a business to my shareholder. So, I am
competing in a space like any other
banks. So that is the way we are running
the business as a commercial and not as a
government bank.
The question of gaps, Skill -gaps.
When I talk about gaps, you can have
many workforces and there are areas
where you do not have the required skills.
We need skills to drive this management.
You can really be overstaffed and yet
don’t have the required skills to drive the
business. And in banking this day, you
have to retool your people or bring in people
with the right skills to drive the business.
In the areas that we have people that are
excess, we will move them round and
retrain them.
We have already started that process. We
have offered everybody their jobs back.
Some wants to leave and I have begged
them not to leave. As soon as we came in,
some staff wanted to leave, and I said, no,
you can’t leave. This was because we have
some good people and we have to keep
them. Some have institutional memory
have been here for years. With a lot of
these people, you need to have the history
of the organisation. So we need most of
them in the system because some of their
skills are still relevant to the institution.
AMCON injected N319 billion into the
bank. We have a shareholders fund of
N45 billion, our margin loan was N20
million and above, we took them to
AMCON and we were giving consideration
bond for those loans and they gave us
value for those loans, they are not
collateral. So if we have loans that are
troubling us we take them back to
AMCON to give us consideration so that
our book is clean, and so that we are not
saddled with things that happened in the
past that we’re not able to recover.
My vision for this bank as I said earlier is
to reposition it to be in the league of
banks. An institution can be small and
be in the leagues of the top banks, and it
can be massive. It depends on the
objectives and how you see the institution.
My strategic thrust is in three areas. Once
I am able to achieve those three areas, I
think I would have reposition Mainstreet
They are customer intimacy, operational
efficiency, and products leadership. I
believe if we can focus and excel in three
areas, I would be able to reposition
Mainstreet Bank to be like First Bank,
Zenith and GTBank.
The level of investors’ interest.
Investors have not been coming to me.
They may have been going to my
shareholders, AMCON. I am extremely
busy, and even if an investor should come
to me now, I would direct them to
AMCON. My mandate is to turnaround
the business. Investors are for AMCON.

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