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UMB to focus on growing SMEs - New MD hints

BY: Emmanuel Bruce
• Nana Dwemoh Benneh

The newly-appointed Managing Director of UMB Bank, Nana Dwemoh Benneh, is focused on transforming the bank into a tier one bank within the next five years.

To achieve this, he said the bank would focus more on its customers and also make ethics and integrity a core function in its activities.

Speaking on Springboard, Your Virtual University, he said “when l think about UMB in five years from now, I want us to be one of the tier-one banks in the country and a leading indigenous Ghanaian bank.

He said the success of the bank depended on its customers which therefore called for more focus on customers.

“I believe our success lies with a customer at a time. It lies on a single-minded focus on every customer experience and although this requires us to have the right appropriate customers, it also means that we have to spend sleepless nights until we get to the point where the customer is satisfied.

“I am not oblivious to the fact that it won’t be easy and there is a lot of work to be done but my objective is that we do our very best there. When we succeed there, all the others will fall into place,” he stated.

“I will make sure that our customers experience us not only as a Ghanaian bank but as a bank that has international standards in the way we serve.”

Ethics and integrity

He said his mandate was also to ensure that the bank maintained its licence to continue doing banking in the country.

“This speaks to ethics, integrity and an excellent relationship with the regulators,” he stated.

Focus on SMEs

Mr Benneh noted that one of the strategies of the bank now was focused on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and bringing innovative products and services to them.

He said this was one area that excited him a lot.

“Throughout the years that I have been working, throughout the turbulences in the economy among others, you will always find some local indigenous Ghanaian companies that have survived through it all and are still thriving.

“So it gives me great pleasure to be able to assist and support them with financial services and then get new businesses,” he said.

Incubator programme

He said the bank had an ongoing incubator programme where young people and business ideas get coaching and business support.

“The more and more I interact with younger people, the more I have been completely fascinated and blown away with their ideas. There is a complete mind shift among young people now. They possess a lot of can-do spirit and when you speak to a lot of them, they are not looking for employment, they are actually looking to set up their own businesses.

‘There is a complete shift now and I believe it is both a responsibility and an immense opportunity to help such future business owners and leaders to be able to fashion out their business properly and to avoid certain pitfalls,” he explained.

Investments in ICT

Mr Benneh also pointed out that the bank had over the years spent a lot of resources in building an infrastructure that allows it to be digital in line with the strategy of providing digital services to its customers.

“Having spent all that money, the time has now come for us to utilize those assets. Some these things, we will have to do in house, some too we will have to do through partnerships and collaborations with people who are already there.

“If COVID had happened 10 years earlier, it would have been disastrous for most banks because we were not prepared to work with our customers virtually, but fast forward, we could now immediately respond with some level of minimized services to our clients,” he noted.

He said what COVID had taught banks was that intimacy with customers must go over and beyond the physical location.

“You must find a way to offer 100 per cent services to the customer without them coming to you and that alone is a tall order for banks. This increases the pressure on banks but it is exciting as well because there are solutions out there and tools out there,” he said.