BREAKING NEWS: Lekan Ahmed: Fidelity Bank, others showing great promise on quality leadership

Lekan Ahmed: Fidelity Bank, others showing great promise on quality leadership

Lekan Ahmed: Fidelity , others showing great promise on quality leadership


Over the past two decades, the banking landscape has undergone a remarkable , catapulting many industry players onto the global stage. Amidst this dynamic shift, marked by two recapitalization exercises and a surge in foreign investments, one of the most profound changes has been the recalibration of human capital. This transformation has opened doors for bankers to assume leadership roles, steering banks towards unprecedented success.

In a time when the notion of a female bank CEO was but a distant dream, pioneers like Cecilia Ibru of Oceanic Bank shattered the glass ceiling. Since then, a wave of exceptional , including Funke Osibodu, Sola David-Borha, and Bola Adesola, have followed suit, ascending to the helm of some of 's leading banks.

Today, ten of the nation's top banks are led by visionary women, embodying strong leadership and driving exceptional financial performances. Among them are Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe of Fidelity Bank, Yemisi Edun of FCMB, and Miriam Olusanya of GT Bank, each leaving an indelible mark on the industry.

Appointed in 2021, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, a former lawyer turned banker, has steered Fidelity Bank towards unprecedented heights. Under her leadership, the bank has maintained high asset quality and a robust balance sheet, consistently earning accolades from leading rating agencies. Fidelity Bank's recent financial statement for 2023 was nothing short of impressive. This remarkable growth is a testament to Onyeali-Ikpe's strategic vision and unwavering commitment to excellence.

Fidelity Bank's recently released condensed unaudited financial statement for 2023 was very impressive. PBT grew by 128% to N122.15 billion from N53.68 billion in 2022. Top line earnings grew by 64% to N552.77 billion from N337.05 in 2022. Its net interest income was 82% higher than the 2022 figure. Its total assets grew by over 56% to N6.23 trillion.

The bank expressed its desire to play in the international market. And most notably, in 2023, it acquired the subsidiary of Union Bank to show its intent even as it reiterated plans for further acquisitions on the continent. “The strategy is for us to move our footprint outside Nigeria and compete favourably with our peers. In the next three years, we should be able to be in six countries by doing at least two yearly,” Onyeali-Ikpe told Bloomberg. This consistently strong financial performance has endeared the bank to capital market investors as reflected in the sustained interest in its shares on the NGX.

Following her in 2021, Yemisi Edun wasted no time in making her mark as the leader of FCMB Group. With a staggering 72% growth in profit before tax in 2022, Edun's strategic acumen has propelled FCMB towards unprecedented success. In the 2023 financial year, the group achieved gross earnings of N516.8 billion, representing an 82.6% growth over the previous year.

Edun's leadership has not only consolidated the bank's liquidity position but has also created new avenues for growth and expansion. FCMB recorded a 206.9% growth in net income for the 2023 financial year to N95.52 billion as against the N31.13 billion recorded in 2022. Total assets grew by over 48% to N4.41 trillion from N2.98 trillion. Edun has consolidated the bank's liquidity position and continued to exploit growth opportunities.

In July 2021, Miriam Olusanya made history as the first female to direct Guaranty Bank, ushering in a new era of innovation and growth. Olusanya's leadership prowess was on full display as GT Bank posted remarkable financial performances in Q3 2023, reporting a 155.2% profit before taxation of N433.2 billion. With a dual listing on the Nigerian Exchange Group and the Stock Exchange, GT Group's metrics speak volumes about Olusanya's strategic foresight and operational excellence.

These women CEOs, alongside their male counterparts, exemplify the transformative power of inclusive leadership. As Nigerian banks continue to harness the full potential of their human capital, irrespective of gender, they pave the way for a more equitable and prosperous future for all.

Ahmed is a PR practitioner and writes in from Lagos

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