FirstBank @ 125: The Quasquicentennial Narrative Of A Mega African Brand

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By Jeremiah Agada

Introduction

Last month, First Bank of Nigeria Limited marked its 125 years of doing business in Nigeria-a feat which makes it the oldest bank in the country and one of the oldest brands in the world, putting it in the same elite league of few organisations that have existed over a hundred years and still waxing strong like JP Morgan Chase, founded in 1799; Colgate, founded in 1806 and the Citigroup, founded in 1812.

Like Julius Caesar once said centuries ago after winning the battle of Asia Minor-now Turkey, the bank brand has earned the bragging rights to say ‘veni, vidi, vici,’ a phrase which translates to ‘I came, I saw, I conquered!’ FirstBank has conquered in the sense that through sheer doggedness and resilience, it has traversed the turbulent Nigerian and African financial services terrain, further marred with social-economic upheavals and turbulences-that has seen many supposedly sturdy businesses buckle under pressure to survive and tell its quasquicentennial story, today.

Since its establishment in 1894 the pioneering bank has always enjoyed the trust and unwavering confidence of its teeming loyal customers in an industry that was no stranger to bank distress which was a recurring decimal before the current CBN reforms that put paid to that. With an unparalleled reputation for leadership, an inimitable strength and elephant-sturdy stability, the bank has consistently marked as the numero uno and the most trusted bank in Independent Customer Surveys.

Consumers and investors alike have always held a strong belief that they can put their money in FirstBank and go to sleep with their two eyes closed. In fact, its stability, earned trust, longevity and inimitable status as the banking industry’s Primus inter pares has rubbed off on other banks such that a banker is quoted to have said, “FirstBank is so trusted that even it were to have a problem, other banks would not allow it to fail because that would cause erosion of public trust in the banking industry.” This and more has given it the impetus to be addressed in the superlative as first among equals.

Since launching in 1894, FirstBank has established itself as a brand of strength and dynamism, with the vision to be the leading international banking group in Sub Saharan Africa. The brand is at the heart of the holistic experience and seeks to deliver to its stakeholders perpetually, which is essential to retain patronage and the competitive edge that keeps it at the coveted position of the market leader.

FirstBank interacts with its stakeholders and demonstrates an understanding of their busy modern lives or businesses, to support their aspirations. Hence, it can proudly claim to have evolved 125 years by respecting and upholding the shared heritage relevant not only to today’s modern Nigerians but also today’s modern world.

With a ‘You First’ pay-off line to always put its stakeholders, customers and partners at the heart of its business, FirstBank is on a definitive mission to create a strong global presence in order to reinforce its position as the leading Sub Saharan banking services group. Constantly, the brand strives to inspire understanding, drive collaboration, and build a better way to unify and strengthen its brand to delight all stakeholders. Its brand promise is thus to always deliver the ultimate “gold standard” of value and excellence anchored on its inherent values of passion, partnership and people, to position “You First” in every respect.

Today, the bank has distinguished itself as a dominant player in the financial services sector with over 13,000 agents banking across Nigeria and as one of the very few banks that have locations across the length and breadth of this country with representatives in the 774 local government areas in Nigeria.

The invincibility of the bank also cuts across the African sub regions towards achieving for itself continental and global accolades. Consequently, for 125 years and still counting, the brand has remained one indivisible brand with no record of ever being acquired merged or put on hold for any period. It has maintained unbroken and uninterrupted service delivery.

It is the oldest bank in West Africa with the largest retail banking network in Nigeria as at last year, with a combined total assets worth about $22.8 billion, the closest bank having $20.6 billion; total customer deposits of $17.6 billion; total customer loan of $12.1 billion and with total number of branches exceeding 750 nationwide.

The bank’s account book also reveals that retail banking accounts for over 50% of FirstBank’s net revenue while corporate and institutional banking constitute over 70% of loans while retail and public sector contributes 75% of the bank’s deposits.

Brief History and Key Milestones

This iconic bank brand that has come to be known as an iconic colossus in the financial sector was founded in 1894 by Sir Alfred Jones, a shipping magnate from Liverpool, England. With its head office originally in Liverpool, the Bank commenced business on a modest scale in the then British Colony, Lagos, Nigeria under the name, Bank of British West Africa (BBWA). It originally served British shipping and trading agencies in Nigeria.

In 1912, the Bank acquired its first competitor, the Bank of Nigeria (previously called Anglo-African Bank) which was established in 1899 by the Royal Niger Company. In 1957, the Bank changed its name from Bank of British West Africa (BBWA) to Bank of West Africa (BWA). In 1966, following its merger with Standard Bank, UK, the Bank adopted the name Standard Bank of West Africa Limited and in 1969 it was incorporated locally as the Standard Bank of Nigeria Limited in line with the Companies Decree of 1968.

In 1971, Standard Bank of Nigeria listed its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and placed 13% of its share capital with Nigerian investors. After the end of the Nigerian civil war, Nigeria’s military government sought to increase local control of the retail-banking sector. In response, now Standard Chartered Bank reduced its stake in Standard Bank Nigeria to 38%. Once it had lost majority control, Standard Chartered wished to signal that it was no longer responsible for the bank and the bank changed its name to First Bank of Nigeria Limited in 1979. By then, the bank had re-organized and had more Nigerian directors than ever.

By 1991, it again changed its name to First Bank of Nigeria Plc, respectively. In 2012, the Bank yet again changed its name to First Bank of Nigeria Limited as part of a restructuring resulting in FBN Holdings Plc, having detached its commercial business from other businesses in the FirstBank Group, in compliance with new regulation by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). FirstBank had 1.3 million shareholders globally, was quoted on The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), where it was one of the most capitalised companies and also had an unlisted Global Depository Receipt (GDR) programme, all of which were transferred to its Holding Company, FBN Holdings, in December 2012.

A Few Key Milestones.

1894 – Incorporated and headquartered in Marina, Lagos, Nigeria, West Africa’s commercial nerve centre.

1912 – Calabar branch, the second branch in Nigeria, was opened by King Jaja of Opobo; Zaria branch was also opened as the first branch in northern Nigeria.

1947 – FirstBank advanced the first long-term loan to the then colonial government, followed in 1955 by a partnership with the government to expand the railway lines.

1971 – First listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

1991 – First Automated Teller Machine (ATM) introduced at 35 Marina as part of convenient, online real time banking.

1994 – Launched first university endowment programme in Nigeria.

2002 – Established FBN UK regulated by the FSA, the first Nigerian Bank to wholly own a full-fledged bank in the UK.

2004 – Launched a new brand identity which introduced substantial changes in the look and feel of the FirstBank brand.

2007 – Introduced Finnone credit administration software as the first bank in Africa to pioneer the service.

2011 – Launched the first biometric ATM and cash deposit ATM in Nigeria.

2012 – Became a subsidiary group of FBN Holdings Plc.

2013 – Completed the acquisition of ICB asset in Guinea, Gambia, Sierra Leone and Ghana as part of an ongoing Pan African expansion program.

2014 – Initiated, at 120 years, the launch of a new corporate identity.

2019—celebrated its quasiquintenniel anniversary.

Subsidiaries and Services

FirstBank is a well-diversified financial services group and one of the largest private sector financial services provider in sub-Saharan Africa. The Bank maintains the leading position in many of the markets in which it operates, market leading distribution caprand with a large customer base.

Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer, First Bank of Nigeria Limited; Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, First Bank of Nigeria Limited; Mr. Oscar Onyema, Chief Executive Officer, The Nigerian Stock Exchange; Dr. Oba Otudeko, Group Chairman, FBNHoldings and Mr. UK Eke, Group Managing Director, FBNHoldings at the bell closing ceremony in commemoration of FirstBank’s 125th anniversary ff

In 2010, the Central Bank of Nigeria revised the regulation covering the scope of banking activities for Nigerian banks. The universal banking model was discontinued and banks were required to divest from non-core banking businesses or adopt a holding company structure. FirstBank opted to form a holding company and by 2012, it adopted a holding company structure – FBN Holdings Plc – a move which is also in recognition of the need to retain the diversity of the Bank’s businesses, to enable the provision of a full range of financial services needs of customers beyond commercial banking to investment banking, insurance and other financial services.

Asides commercial banking, it has FBNQuest.  FBNQuest is the brand name of the Merchant Banking and Asset Management businesses of FBN Holdings Plc, which comprises FBNQuest Merchant Bank Limited, FBNQuest Capital Limited, FBNQuest Securities Limited, FBNQuest Capital Asset Management Limited, FBNQuest Trustees Limited, FBNQuest Funds Limited and FBN Capital Partners Limited.

Playing strongly in the insurance industry, it has the following subsidiaries: FBNInsurance, FBN General Insurance and FBN Insurance Brokers. The business group offers life and general insurance services as well as insurance brokerage services.

Other subsidiaries include First Pension Custodian Ltd (First Pension)-providing pension fund custody services, and FBN Mortgages, a primary mortgage institution.

The new structure resulted in a stronger platform to support the Group’s future growth ambitions domestically and internationally. Its strategy has been focused on restructuring the business to take advantage of growth opportunities within the industry, pursuing business line expansion across strategic business units, continuously implementing a systematic international expansion plan, sequencing its growth initiatives across defined metrics, as well as building synergies and cross-selling across the FirstBank and its subsidiaries – FBNBank – in sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and Asia.

FirstBank’s subsidiaries outside the shores of Nigeria include; FBNBank Ghana, FBNBank DRC, FBN Bank Guinea, FBNBank Senegal, FBNBank Gambia, FBNBank Sierra Leone, FBNBank UK – with a branch in France. FirstBank also has a representative office in China to foster business activities between the Nigerian and Chinese business community.

This strategy supports the Bank’s vision of being the leading sub-Saharan African financial services group. The continued implementation of this strategy helps in building great franchises and delivering value to all its stakeholders. The focus of the Bank in terms of international expansion remains the financial services markets in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Commercial Banking group is led by FirstBank- which operates nationally and internationally, with an active customer account base of over 14 million served through a large distribution network consisting of over 750 business locations and over 2500 ATMs across the length and breadth of Nigeria.

In 2017, FirstBank was recognised by Interswitch as the first bank in the country (Nigeria) to issue 10 million ATM cards to customers; a feat that speaks to the trust on its services by its customers and the banking public in general. 

These diverse operations in the financial services industry, with widespread service outlets, ensure the foothold of FirstBank as a foremost financial services provider in Nigeria, contributing enormously to the growth and development of the national economy and delighting its stakeholders.

Innovations

Awarded the “Most Innovative Bank in Africa” in the EMEA Finance African Banking Awards in 2014, the bank has consistently reinvented itself leveraging on innovation, technology, its communication and its services. Over time, it has positioned itself as the most customer-friendly financial institutions in Nigeria, having made banking more convenient to customers through service improvement and channels optimization. It has also attained over 100 million e-banking transactions, a first by any financial institution in Nigeria.

Unlike a certain bank brand that has tried unsuccessfully over the years to change people’s perception of it as a brand for the elderly, First bank, despite its age has so position itself well that it has consolidated its industry leadership by maintaining a trans-generational appeal. It is viewed as a bank for everyone irrespective of age, status and social standing.

Besides, according to its records, it is the first to launch Finacle 10 banking software, FirstMobile, mobile banking app, FirstOnline, internet banking, Firstmonie, mobile payment platform, WhatsApp Chat Banking, Digital Lab to incubate innovation and creativity in financial services delivery among others.

Since the launch of FirstGem in October 2016, a series of female empowerment initiatives, trainings and seminars have been organized across the country and in the UK to harness and financially mobilize the growing percentage of women in the country whilst empowering them through the nuggets of financial independence.

FirstBank is currently leading the industry with 2,897 ATMs deployed across Nigeria, making it the nation’s financial institution with the widest retail footprint. Chuma Ezirim, the Bank’s Group Head, e-Business, is quoted to have said the distinct developments in FirstBank’s ATMs were achieved as a result of the desire to reach out to more people in the country and as part of putting customers at the heart of the business, disclosing further that the Bank’s ATMs dispensed over N2.8 trillion between January and December 2017.

“FirstBank is positioned to meet the needs of its customers and to reach out to the under banked and unbanked. Our mission is to remain relevant in the lives of our customers by continually working at making banking services a more convenient experience for our customers,” he added.

Today, FirstBank is the first financial institution in Nigeria to achieve issuing over 10 million cards to customers across the country, making it one of the two other African banks to achieve the milestone in the Continent.

Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria; Mr. Dapo Abiodun, Governor-elect Ogun State and Dr. Oba Otudeko, Group Chairman, FBNHoldings during the Gala Night organized to celebrate the 125th anniversary of First Bank of Nigeria Limited
L-R: Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer, First Bank of Nigeria Limited; Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria; Dr. Oba Otudeko, Group Chairman, FBN Holdings Plc; Jerome Pasquier, French Ambassador to Nigeria; Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, First Bank of Nigeria Limited; Mr. UK Eke, Group Managing Director, FBN Holdings Plc and Mr. Oscar Onyema, Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Stock Exchange at the gala night to commemorate the 125th year anniversary of FirstBank
L-R: Mr. Gbenga Shobo, Deputy Managing Director, First Bank of Nigeria Limited; Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Power, Works and Housing; Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer, First Bank of Nigeria Limited; Dr. Oba Otudeko, Group Chairman, FBN Holdings Plc; Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, Wife of the Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria; Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance; Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, First Bank of Nigeria Limited and Mr. UK Eke, Group Managing Director, FBN Holdings Plc at the lecture organised to mark the 125th year anniversary of First Bank of Nigeria Limited

Communication

Its longevity and leadership is a proof that the brand has no place for complacency. Nothing kills a brand like complacency, after a huge breakthrough. Over the years, stories of many failed brands have been linked to overconfidence and the belief that they have conquered the market. But the smart brand never gives in –it continues to reinvent and innovate.

As a local brand with eye on the global market, the FirstBank brand has over the years explored necessary marketing tools to remain relevant. Aside consistently leveraging on technology, sponsorship and training of employees to earn the trust of its customers, the bank has consistently leveraged on very effective 360 degrees communication in keeping pace with and responding to the dynamic needs of its customers, investors, regulators, host communities, employees and other stakeholders.

In an interview she granted to Tribune Newspaper shortly after winning the prestigious Most Valuable Banking Brand Award for the sixth time, the Group Head, Marketing and Corporate Communications, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Folake Ani-Mumuney emphasized the bank’s drive fuelled by its communication over the years.

“At the early years of the award, our focus was more in keeping the brand name out for the benefit of awareness and for the thrill of being in the company of global brands. For us, playing in the league of the world’s best banking brands was more important and enough recognition. However, after the first win, the yearning to maintain the winning tempo kept us on our toes and helped push us further to sustain the trend.

“We were always in high spirits as we deliberately set higher standards for the entire team year-on-year in terms of our overall service delivery, our designs, communication style and collaterals as well as the ambience of our touch points and the brand experience enjoyed by our customers at these touch-points.. It was difficult not to hope to win, while deep down knowing competitors are equally doing everything possible to beat the first,” she said.

As a brand of fortitude, strength and innovation in the Nigerian financial sector, following its adoption of a holding company structure, FirstBank on January 27, 2014 unveiled a refreshed corporate identity, including that of all its subsidiaries, designed to reflect the company’s strategic direction and position it to meet the future needs of the market. The African elephant which is a respected and instantly recognisable icon of its brand identity was retained. And why not? The iconic African elephant has been a robust symbol of strength, growth, trust, approachability and stability, establishing the organisation as a clear leader in the financial services industry. However, it was re-ignited with a number of enhancements that communicate a robust evolution relevant to today’s marketplace.

Information on the bank’s website further explains the enhancements: “Our new refreshed corporate identity retains the elephant and re-ignites this iconic symbol with a number of enhancements that accentuate a robust evolution relevant for today. Our brand language is the visual and narrative look and feel of our brand. It is the essential combination of the logo, the images, the fonts, the pattern, the icons, the colours, the symbols, the identity and the words.

“The new colour palette is a clear reflection of our brand personality and tone of voice whilst robustly portraying our profitability pedigree. It evolves the FirstBank trademark Blue to reflect a richer and more premium equity and combines with new complimentary colour partners.

“The raised head of the elephant in our refreshed identity is our promise to all customers that with us in their corner, every financial challenge they face, they can face with their head held high. The deep blue colour represents momentum, innovation and evolution. These principles ensure that we continue to develop solutions that are at the heart of all their challenges. The raised foot of the elephant is a promise that we will always put our best foot forward for each and every one of our customers. The adoption of gold into our logo, a precious metal identified with value, serves as a reminder of the inherent value and durability of our brand. This marks a renewed promise to all our stakeholders – a promise to continue to set the gold standard of value and excellence in financial solutions across Sub Saharan Africa.”

People Development

As one of the leading private sector employers of graduate-level personnel in the country, FirstBank’s manpower development policy recognises the invaluable contribution that human resources make to the growth and development of countries successfully navigating from third world to developed country status. Consequently, its human capital management initiatives are geared towards providing necessary support to staff, departments, and the various business drivers to enable the Bank achieve its goals and objectives.

As the Bank grows its footprint locally and internationally, contributing positively to customers’ value chains, it hires personnel with the unique skill sets needed to fully leverage its operations. The Bank’s succession planning framework ensures perpetual business continuity. FirstBank continues to replenish its workforce, especially at strategically important levels of responsibility.

FirstBank boasts of a rich pool of resourceful industry experts who contribute significantly to national development through ongoing secondment to different tiers of governments and institutions across the country. The Bank’s alumni are highly sought after in both the public and private sectors. FirstBank believes strongly that by ensuring a robust employee value proposition that helps retain top performers, it will continue to improve on the outstanding performance of its people during and after their service to the Bank.

Priding itself as an “Equal Opportunity Employer” underpinned by strong institutional processes, diversity and inclusion practice and corporate governance, the bank offers continuous learning and development opportunities through its specially designed training centre – First Academy – to equip staff with required skills and competencies to perform optimally in their respective job functions.

FirstBank offers highly competitive compensation packages aimed at attracting and retaining high performing and energetic people across various function areas with the organization, and creates an enabling work culture and environment with recognition and respect for individuals while giving support for professional development especially acquisitions of globally accredited certifications e.g. ACCA, CFA, ITIL, CISA, ICAN, CIBN, CIPD etc.

Impacting the Nation

Leveraging experience spanning over a century of dependable services, FirstBank has continued to build relationships and alliances with key sectors of the economy that have served as strategic building blocks for the wellbeing, growth and development of the country. With its huge asset base and expansive branch network, as well as continuous re-invention, FirstBank is Nigeria’s strongest banking franchise, maintaining market leadership on all fronts in the nation’s financial services industry.

No doubt, the bank’s proactive and far-reaching transformation programmes in the financial services sector initiated ahead of the turn of the present century is responsible for this. It came as no surprise then that FirstBank was the first quoted company in Nigeria to achieve the feat of hitting the trillion naira mark in market capitalisation, the clearest evidence of the market’s estimation of its worth.

Its leadership position reiterated by the fact that asides consistently raising the bar and setting new standards to grow Nigeria’s banking sector, the bank has produced two of the four indigenous Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN governors to come from commercial banks in the country. It produced Oladele Joseph Sanusi who ran the highest office in the industry in Nigeria between 1999 and 2004 and the cerebral Sanusi Lamido Aminu Sanusi-now Emir of Kano who led many of the reforms that have changed the face of banking in Nigeria today.

Also, despite the many economic doldrums and upheavals, the bank has played key pivotal roles in the Federal Government’s privatisation and commercialisation scheme over the past years, leading the financing of private investment in infrastructure development in the Nigerian economy. Today, the bank has not relented in its commitment to supporting businesses across sectors and in building sustainable business enterprises.

Through its part in nation building and the development of the national and regional economy through its primary role of financial intermediation, projects financing and employment creation through entrepreneurship support as well as its extensive corporate responsibility and sustainability programmes, FirstBank has proven to be the most connected banking brand to a wide array of Nigerian customers, supporting both SMEs and large corporates across the country and beyond. With a business policy that is hinged on a developmental and nation building paradigm, its investments and interventions in the pivotal sectors were well-thought out and in the right direction.

Thus, the Bank’s role in ensuring methodical and rapid economic transformation has been further strengthened through the FirstBank Impact Series, the policy and thought leadership initiative of the Bank. The Series is run through insightful, actionable and change-centered conferences, workshops, seminars, strategy sessions, and policy implementation road-shows to drive far-reaching changes in the society.

The initiative provides engaging platforms for evolving strategic outlook to problem-solving, especially from the capacity building and leadership perspectives. So far, the Bank has, through its concerted singular projects and collaborative partnerships, charted sustainable roadmaps in the spheres of leadership, youth development and socio-economic empowerment.

Playing strongly in Nigeria’s mainstay, it has always supported the acquisition of stakes in Oil Mining Leases (OMLs), financing development of oilfields, financing cash calls for both operating and capital expenditures through Strategic Alliance Contracts. FirstBank has provided over $1 billion to part-finance acquisition of interests, as well as working capital for production to a number of OMLs; and an aggregate of about $500 million for construction and completion of Gas pipelines to Marginal Fields and Cement Plants.

Also at the forefront of financing power projects, the bank has provided over $220 million to part-finance the acquisition of both Generating Companies and Distribution Companies under the privatisation of the Power Sector by the Federal Government. The Bank’s support for infrastructure development spans the entire country, having participated in various syndication transactions and direct funding of over N100 billion for redevelopment and tolling of roads, airport terminals, ultra-modern markets, site and services schemes, construction and maintenance of engineering infrastructure under PPP arrangements, New Town Developments, and Shopping Malls with Shoprite and Game as Anchor tenants.

FirstBank is actively involved in the agricultural sector of the economy and has been a major financier of various types of assets for the establishment, expansion and modernisation of various agricultural enterprises. The Bank has introduced customer-friendly and need-focused product schemes, partnered with international organisations and collaborated with Federal, State governments and the CBN, to support the sector.

CSR and Sustainability

FirstBank is keen on Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability. Through the years, it has shown its commitment to positively impacting the lives of customers, other stakeholders and the society at large in a sustainable manner through impactful initiatives.

The bank has always collaborated with several non-profit organisations to build partnerships that deliver long-term value to the society. One of such is the bank’s partnership with the Lagos Business School to establish the FirstBank Sustainability Centre, contributing to knowledge in the sustainability sector. The centre has hosted the International Sustainability Conference to stimulate sustainability principles in business management; Sustainability Workshops for NGOs to create an enabling platform for NGOs in recognition of their emerging roles in contemporary society; and workshops for women-led SMEs to equip women for enterprise development with sustainable growth strategies.

The bank has also partnered with known and recognised names in different sectors of the economy, most importantly in the Arts through its First@arts platform and this has yielded incredible feedback and goodwill and earned FirstBank a pride of place among the leading brands in the country championing sustainability and social responsibility.

Its partnerships with the British Council and Freedom Park has seen it supporting a large number of arts practitioners and aficionados whilst reviving the culture of family fun time and the business side of the arts. These initiatives are some of the FirstBank partnerships which certainly contributed in one way or the other in bank’s emergence as a global brand and Nigeria’s most valuable bank brand for the sixth year in a row, among other accolades.

The bank also plays strongly in the sporting arena, sponsoring sports development within the country. For 100 years FirstBank has been sponsoring the prestigious century-old Georgian Cup of the Kaduna International Polo Tournament, the oldest sports trophy in Nigeria and perhaps the longest consecutive sports sponsorship in the world.

The Bank has also, for 57 years supported the Lagos Amateur Open Golf Tournament; for 33 years FirstBank has sponsored Dala Hard Court Tennis Championship in Kano; for 25 years FirstBank has partnered with the Nigerian Economic Summit and FirstBank supports education through Professorial Endowments in 10 federal universities, and also the bank is at the forefront of championing financial literacy among others.

Recognitions and Awards

In its 125 years of uninterrupted operations, FirstBank’s outstanding services have attracted innumerable recognitions and awards. The Bank was first listed on The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in March 1971 and won the NSE’s Annual President’s Merit Award for the best financial report in the banking industry a record thirteen times.

This subsisting feat received additional impetus when the Bank in 2011 was bestowed with the “Best Financial Reporting Company” award by Africa Investor, one of Africa’s most respected multimedia investment news and information publishers.

In the same period, FirstBank was named the “Most Innovative Bank in Africa” by African Banker Awards. This highly coveted award goes to the African bank that has demonstrated original and practical uses of technology to provide customer convenience, better and cheaper services, and greater access to the financial services industry in Africa. The award, therefore, represents a global recognition of the giant strides the Bank has made over the years in deploying technology to power its operations and services, and ultimately making banking services more convenient, accessible and faster.

The Bank’s prime status has been reinforced with the award of the prestigious ISO/IEC 27001:2005 certification, the world’s highest accreditation for information protection and security from the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). By this certification, FirstBank distinguished itself as the first organisation in Nigeria to achieve the ISO 27001, which is an affirmation that the Bank has adopted and complied with the highest known standards in information security globally. After three years of certification, FirstBank has successfully implemented the recertification of ISO/IEC 27001:2005 in 2013.

In addition to this certification, FirstBank again became the first organisation to be awarded the BS25999 certification, the highest accreditation in Business Continuity Management received from the British Standard Institute. The certifications confirm the Bank’s ability to safeguard its assets, staff well-being and customers’ investments, and favourably respond to incidents and business disruption to ensure business continuity at all times.

FirstBank has been the back-to-back winner of the “Best Bank in Nigeria” for twelve (12) years, “Best Trade Finance Bank in Nigeria”, and “Best Foreign Exchange Bank in Nigeria” for seven (7) consecutive years – all awarded by the US-based Global Finance magazine. The Bank has been the back-to-back winner of the “Best Bank in Nigeria” awarded by the EMEA Finance magazine for four (4) consecutive years. FirstBank is also winner of the “Best Banking Group in Nigeria”, awarded by World Finance Banking Awards, the “Best Investment Bank” the “Best Private Bank” awarded by the same institution, the latter which the Bank has received five times. FirstBank received the “ICT Telecoms Deal of the Year Award” awarded by the Ai CEO Infrastructure Awards 2012, a worthy recognition of the Bank’s role in the EMTS (Etisalat) US$650Million Syndicated Term Loan, 2011 and was named “The Bank of the Year in Nigeria” in The Banker Awards 2012.

For six consecutive years, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 (as announced in February 2017), the Bank has been named “Nigeria’s Number One Banking Brand” by Brand Finance Top 500 Banking Brands and “Best Retail Bank in Nigeria”, 2011, 2012 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 by the Asian Banker International Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards. Also, in 2013, FirstBank was awarded the “Best Bank in Nigeria” in the Euromoney Awards for Excellence, “Best Bank in West Africa” in the African Banker Awards, and Best Foreign Exchange Services in Africa in the EMEA Finance Treasury Services Awards.

L-R, Bimbola Wright, Head, Coverage & Corporate Banking FBNQuest Merchant Bank; Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, FirstBank; Olusola Oworu, Independent Non-Executive Director, FirstBank and Irene Netimah, Company Secretary, FirstBank at the Bank’s celebration of the International Women’s Day and launch of its First Women Network initiative in Lagos recently during the International Women’s Day.

All these accolades attest to FirstBank’s exceptional commitments to promoting national economic growth and development through constructive engagements with the public and private sectors of the growing Nigerian economy.

Indeed, with these, the Bank is positioned to build on these achievements with a view to achieving more feats in the coming 125 years and beyond.

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