Competition and rivalry is synonymous to human existence. An average human wants to get the better of his contemporaries; he is always in a race to be better than the rest. So, to have businesses aiming at outdoing competitors is nothing strange.
The recent trend in the Nigerian banking industry calls for critical assessment with more drastic actions from the regulatory body for the banks. The current wave of unhealthy rivalry among Nigerian banks portends great dangers, especially for the targets of demarketing.
Especially, the Tier 2 banks such as Heritage Bank have been targeted with rumours of distressed and to escaped the industry “assassination”, it will need more than a statement of assurance, but records of strong performance for stakeholders to believe that there is no reason to be panic.
Meanwhile, demarketing, according to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is unethical and unprofessional practice as it deals with spreading false rumours. Suffice to say that demarketing in another language means stretching competition beyond the scope of competition.
The Nigerian banking industry in the last one decade has witnessed at least two major eras of fierce competition where some aggressive demarketing were targeted at some banks. It was so alarming in 2006 and 2008 that the regulator, CBN, had to issue circulars warning banks to desist from such acts or face severe sanctions.
The 2006 circular from CBN required all bank’s Chief Executive Officers to immediately address all their staff to heed the warning as any proven case of demarketing by any means and spreading false rumours of negative comments against other banks will be sanctioned. Again, when the trend resurfaced in 2008, CBN issued a further threat to slam a fine of N10 million on any bank found demarketing others.
As always the case in Nigeria, no bank was ever penalised on that ground, and today the industry is experiencing the same trend. Demarketing is on the prowl again as the banks battle economic recession and seemingly better performance from competitors. This recent wave found complicity even with the CBN.
Base on its tracking record, Heritage Bank took the industry by storm when it emanated from the carcas of the defunct Societe Generale Bank. Today, the bank is paying the price for that giant step and courageous move that saw it bullied its way into a Tier 2 category of banking ratings in Nigeria. The bank is now the newest victim of demarketing and image battery.
No one needs a soothsayer to know that portraying a bank whose 2015 financial reports indicated Gross Earnings of N24.2 billion and Profit After Tax of N1.1 billion with about N483.4 billion in total assets as being distressed is nothing but a malicious attempt to put truth upside down. That is part of the newest assaults at the image of the bank.
The success story of Heritage Bank in the last few years of its emergence must surely have saddened some of the negative minded people, thus attempting to bring it down at all cost.
Last month, Africa Export and Import Bank (Afrexim) invested $150 million in Heritage Bank. It is insulting to think Afrexim would make such huge investment in a supposed “distressed” organisation. At this point without doubt, the demarketers need education that for Heritage Bank to merit such partnership with the regional development bank is no mean feat.
In another bold statement, the CBN partnered Heritage Bank in a N3 billion Youths Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YEDP) in July which is aimed at creating sustainable wealth and employment in the country with focus on dependable job-creating sectors such as Agricultural Value Chain (fish farming, poultry, snail farming), Cottage Industry, Mining and Solid Minerals, Creative Industry (Tourism, Arts and Crafts), and Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
Heritage Bank was appointed for the pilot phase of the programme out of over 20 banks in Nigeria. That of course must be a bitter pill for the demarketers to swallow.
For a bank just coming into the foray, the bullish manner with which Heritage Bank entered into the bidding for former Enterprise Bank, winning the bid despite not given an iota of chance, and effectively making the payment without a hitch must have been a big blow to its detractors.
The bank is fully exploring the opportunities inherent in technology to drive innovations in its services to its ever increasing customers. The bank possess array of products for every strata of its customers; BUD savings for children, Heritage Pay for corporate bodies and government, and numerous convenient banking solutions for individuals as it sees itself as their “Timeless Wealth Partners”.
Also, Heritage Bank in August organised a Financial Literacy Holiday Workshop for children between ages of 8 – 11 with coaching on presentation skills, creative writing, and movie outing among others in Lagos. The state government in a letter by the Deputy Governor lauded the initiative. The bank launched a comic book titled ‘The Protectors’ earlier in the year. The Rivers state government also commended the bank on Youth Development Programmes.
The rising fame of the bank is evidently too hot for its enemies that the demarketing took political dimensions. They attempted to misinform the public saying the bank belongs to the Saraki’s who has only about 10 per cent in Heritage Bank. It is certainly misguided information about a bank whose vision and innovations has attracted more capital from new investors in the recent times.