Access by Name, Access by Nature: Bank Building Bridges and Solid Relationships

The Access Bank UK Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Access Bank Plc, a Nigerian Stock Exchange-listed company, provides trade finance, commercial and private banking, and asset management products and services for customers dealing in OECD (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) markets.

Access Bank UK

It also supports companies wishing to invest in and trade in Sub-Saharan Africa, MENA, and Asia. The Access Bank UK is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the PRA. The Access Bank UK Ltd Dubai Branch is situated in the iconic Gate Building of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). It is regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA).

Like its parent company, it is committed to developing a sustainable business model. “This is reflected in our moderate appetite for risk, our passion for customer service and our commitment to build long-term relationships,” says CEO and managing director Jamie Simmonds. “We play a key role in our Group’s vision to be the world’s most respected African bank. As such, we refuse to chase unsustainable yields as a route to growth. Instead, we focus on building our business through the strength of our customer relationships.”

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.

“This is a great landmark for us,” says Simmonds, “enabling us to build a sustainable platform with direct entry into the UK payment clearing system and enhancing customer service. We anticipate and respond quickly to market needs – with the right technology, products and services.”

The Access Bank UK provides a number of services to support business in Sub-Saharan Africa, and across the world. It was awarded Confirming Bank status by the International Finance Corporation as part of its global trade finance programme, strengthening capabilities.

“We were 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,” says Simmonds. “We also issue Letters of Credit on behalf of the Nigerian government and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).”

Dubai: DIFC Gate Building

Dubai: DIFC Gate Building

The commercial banking team offers relationship-based support for corporate and individual customers, with a range of products and services, market-leading systems and top-flight service.

“Our global private bank has been built around our passion for delivering excellent service,” Simmonds notes. “We deliver innovative investment solutions to our clients, who value trust, integrity and accountability as well as investment performance.

“We take a proactive approach to product and service delivery, and offer unique investment solutions tailored to our customers’ needs by the experienced private banking team.”

The Dubai branch also assists customers in the MENA region with trade and investment needs in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa. The DIFC Branch is committed to building a long-lasting regional relationship, in line with the approach that has proven so effective for The Access Bank UK. “The combination of the Dubai branch and our presence in the UK and Nigeria delivers a wealth of expertise to benefit our customers.”

Building long-term relationships takes time, and the bank works closely with customers to understand their goals and create strategies to meet their needs. “We provide constant support and development opportunities for our employees, which reflects in their dedication and professionalism,” says Simmonds. “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 endeavour is to help employees realise their potential through the provision of continuous learning opportunities and the tools and training to support professional growth.”

Simmonds sees people as fundamental to the bank’s continued development. “They provide the skills that deliver our focus on service and customer relationships. During the past year, we selectively recruited additional members to the team and invested in professional development.

Access Bank UK Ltd CEO and Managing Director: Jamie Simmonds

CEO and Managing Director: Jamie Simmonds

“We were the first Nigerian bank to achieve Investors in People accreditation. We have now advanced our status to Platinum. We believe that our consistently low staff turnover reflects 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.”

In its recent report and Statutory Accounts for 2019, the bank demonstrated another year of significant all-round growth, achieving and exceeding targets for all the main growth strategies. The report, entitled Expanding our Horizons – Africa’s Gateway to the World, highlights strong operational performance by the main strategic business units – and continued growth and expansion in Sub-Saharan Africa and MENA regions.

The bank’s Operating income increased by 20 percent year-on-year to $85.2m, with all four strategic business units performing well. Pre-tax profits overall grew by 30 percent to $57.2m.

The trade finance operation continues to be the bank’s largest strategic business unit (SBU), and is confirming bank for Access Bank Plc and the Group. Income grew by 28 percent year-on-year to $40.4m, of which $12.4m was accounted for by correspondent banking.

Commercial banking income was higher than anticipated, at $30.6m – representing five percent year-on-year growth – while assets under management income rose by 15 percent to $2.6m.

Dubai, the newest SBU, was also a significant performer, with income reaching $7.5m, an uplift of 168 percent year-on-year. “This success is founded on our strong relationship model and testament to the trust a growing number of important Middle Eastern clients have shown in us as the gateway to Nigeria and the rest of Africa,” the CEO says.

Simmonds said the recently published results meant the bank had a mandate to develop the Group’s international interests, as it progresses towards global status. “Our clearly defined role is a logical outcome of the successful merger with Diamond Bank,” he says, “and we welcome the opportunity it gives us.”

Herbert Wigwe, chairman and non-executive director, said the bank’s 2019 successes were achieved without any significant contribution from Diamond Bank customers, “which we expect will feed through during 2020 and beyond”.

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