Creating A Culture Of Openness

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By Claire Woffenden – claire.woffenden@ethicalboardroom.com

 

Guaranty Trust Bank plc (GTBank) has built a strong tradition of integrity, professionalism and innovation since its incorporation in 1990, cementing its place in the premier league of banks in Africa.

GTBank is one of the foremost African financial institutions with vast business outlays covering regions of the Anglophone and Francophone world including West Africa and the United Kingdom. With an asset base of over $13.7Billion and shareholders’ funds in excess of $1.9Billion, GTBank employs over 10,000 people in Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda and the United Kingdom. The Bank is committed to promoting ethics, quality service and internationally accepted corporate governance standards. GTBank’s values has enabled it to continue to deepen its market share in all countries where it has a business presence.

According to Segun Agbaje, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Guaranty Trust Bank plc, “At Guaranty Trust Bank, we are committed to the highest standards of corporate governance in the creation and delivery of long-term sustainable value in a manner consistent with our obligations as a responsible corporate citizen.”

 “It is increasingly important in the light of developments and continuous evolution of the regulatory policies in respect of financial services, society‘s view of the role of banks and the need to maintain investor confidence,” added Agbaje.

GTBank views corporate governance not as an end in itself but a vital facilitator to the creation of long- term value for its stakeholders. The Bank continues to emphasize a value-led culture, high behavioural standards and robust procedures as fundamental tools in the entrenchment of a strong corporate governance framework. “In building our corporate governance mantra, we continue to review the external factors that present risks and opportunities for our business in order to ensure our strategy is appropriate,” said Mr Agbaje. “We are focused on building strong and stable relationships with our customers, employees and suppliers; and ensuring that we manage our risks and resources appropriately.”

Orange… the way forward

GTBank has eight guiding principles called the Orange Rules which are fundamental to its culture and are embedded in the fabric of its entire business conduct. The Orange Rules of Simplicity, Professionalism, Service, Friendliness, Excellence, Trustworthiness, Social Responsibility and Innovation symbolise the company’s guiding principles upon which it was founded and remains the bedrock upon which it has built and developed its stringent corporate governance practices. As a company publicly quoted both on the Nigerian and London Stock Exchange, GTBank remains focused on its responsibilities and commitment to protect and increase shareholder value through transparent corporate governance practice.

 

“In Guaranty Trust Bank, there is a culture of openness in which healthy debate is encouraged and employees are expected to report improper activity.

 

GTBank ensures compliance with the Code of Corporate Governance for Public Companies issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (‘the SEC Code’), the Code of Corporate Governance for Banks in Nigeria Post Consolidation issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (‘the CBN Code’), as well as disclosure requirements under the Disclosure and Transparency Rules of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in the United Kingdom, which are applicable to non-UK companies with GDRs listed on the London Stock Exchange. In addition to the Code of Corporate Governance, GTBank promotes the company’s core values to its employees through its Code of Professional Conduct and an Ethics Policy which regulates employee relations with internal and external parties.

This is a pointer to GTBank’s determination to ensure that its employees remain professional at all times in their business practices.

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Mr Agbaje said: “In Guaranty Trust Bank, there is a culture of openness in which healthy debate is encouraged and employees are expected to report improper activity. As the Bank continues to work towards serving customers, clients and communities; and generate returns for stakeholders, we are guided by our creed that success is only meaningful when it is achieved the right way with the right values.”

“Our commitment to this principle is for us the key to sustaining public trust and confidence in our Bank and the key to our continued long-term success,” he added.

GTBank complies with the requirements of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the monthly internal review of its compliance status, with defined corporate governance practices and submits reports on the company’s compliance status to the CBN and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation.

An Annual Board Appraisal is also conducted by an independent consultant appointed by the company whose report is submitted to the CBN and presented to Shareholders at the Annual General Meeting of GTBank in compliance with the provisions of the CBN Code. The Board of Guaranty Trust Bank, which is comprised of fourteen members made up of a crop of seasoned professionals who have excelled in their various fields cutting across banking, oil and gas and law, is responsible to shareholders for creating and delivering sustainable value through the management of the company’s business.

Recent recognition

Over the years, GTBank has been a recipient of numerous international and national awards and commendations for exceptional service delivery, innovation, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility and management quality.

These awards include: 2013 & 2014 African Bank of the Year by African Banker Award, 2012 Best Bank in Nigeria by World Finance UK, Best Bank in Africa 2014, 2012, 2010 and 2009 from Euromoney and 2014 Best Bank in Nigeria Award by Euromoney, 2011 Best Bank in Nigeria and 2013 Most innovative Bank by EMEA Finance, 2011 & 2013 Best Banking Group by World Business Leader Magazine, 2011 & 2012 Most Socially Responsible Bank in Nigeria by SERA, 2010 & 2011 Best Bank in Nigeria award by the Banker Awards, Best CSR Rating from SIAO in 2008, 2009 & 2010; 2010 Most Customer-Focused Bank (Retail & Corporate) and 2011 Most Customer-Focused Bank Award from KPMG.

GTBank has the best category risk rating assigned to any Nigerian Bank by both local and international rating agencies (BB- by Standard & Poor’s and B+ by Fitch Rating) and is extremely compliant with International best practice and standards. It was the first Nigerian Bank to be awarded an ISO 9001: 2000 certification by the International Standards Organization and the first to adopt the IFRS reporting format.

The high standards under which GTBank operates have raised public expectations from other financial institutions, forcing the adoption of higher corporate governance practices. GTBank has also inculcated social responsibility as a critical part of its business model, focusing on healthcare, education, environment sustainability, community development and the arts.

For GTBank, each day presents an opportunity to further improve its offerings and deliver 100 per cent above the service expectations of its customers at all times.