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Novel management ideas do not necessarily come from bankers’—Zenith CEO

The Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Peter Amangbo, has averred that in banking management and corporate development, “experience has shown me that it is not necessarily the bankers that will give you the appropriate challenge or novel ideas, it is people that are not even in the industry at all that will come up with novel ideas”. Explaining in an interview, he averred that “They tend to look at things innocently like a child and they come up with strong and powerful contributions”.
My advice is to first focus on issues and not personalities. The important thing is to let the better reasoning prevail, therefore, articulate your points and try to be convincing, have back up and supporting points, and also try to listen. The mistake we make sometimes as executives is to think, “What are they telling me? They are not bankers, I am the professional here, and he knows nothing about banking”. Being on the Board of Zenith Bank since 2005, experience has shown me that it is not necessarily the bankers that will give you the appropriate challenge or novel ideas, it is people that are not even in the industry at all that will come up with novel ideas. They tend to look at things innocently like a child and they come up with strong and powerful contributions. The key thing is to have an open mind as an Executive, that each of these directors comes in with different perspectives. Hear them out, process what they have to say and make your point. When we focus on issues, at the end of the day even when we disagree, it is still very healthy. Over time, there is a consensus and we move on. Respect is still also very important. Once we respect each other’s views and what we have to bring to the table then we can work things out from there.
Reacting on whether there is any form of conflict between existing Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Code of Corporate Governance and the National Code of Corporate Governance, Zenith Bank chief said “No, I do not see any conflict between the Financial Reporting Council’s (FRCN) Code of Corporate Governance and the CBN Code at all”.
Continuing, he noted that “If anything, the code of corporate governance is not industry specific, regardless of the industry you operate, it affects you. When you think about it, talking about governance, it is all about the corporation not the sector that you operate in. The FRC is focused on any organisation, not a particular sector”.
According to him, “The CBN however, is focused on the financial sector, which is why I mentioned that banking is unique by the nature of what it is doing, and if anything, it needs a stricter code.
“The nature of what the sector is doing is highly sensitive. Holding Depositors’ funds; imagine if anything happens to any systemic bank, the impact will be on millions of account holders. From that perspective, banks are actually different. They are basically like public trusts.
“That is why when you see major challenges in banking sector; governments get involved because of the unique nature of the banks that touches the lives of the citizenry directly. The CBN rules strengthen the code of corporate governance. So in a way, they are actually aligned.
On the critical challenges faced by banks in delivering good corporate governance, Amangbo agreed that there are a lot of challenges banks’ and the whole financial sector face. “Remember that Nigeria is a developing country; therefore, we face unique challenges. Especially when it comes to governance practices, you cannot separate what happens in our society really from what happens in the bank. The bank to a large extent is a reflection of what you have in the society. If you have a lawless and corrupt society, why do you think the bank will now be a saint? It is very unlikely.
Giving further emphasis, Zenith bank boss agreed that “In the developed world, governance is like second nature because in many developed environments, it is already in their way of life”.
“So we face peculiar challenges in an environment like this where quite a lot of things are not done appropriately. In as much as we have those challenges, you yourself must enthrone those practices, and it starts at the top. Make sure you follow the rules and do not bend them, do things appropriately,” Amangbo averred.