2019 CEO Outlook - Adesola Adeduntan, FirstBank - KPMG | NG
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With over 125 years of operation, 15 million plus customer accounts and more than 750 business locations, First Bank of Nigeria Limited is a shining example of a resilient organisation in Nigeria. Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, CEO of the bank, believes that organisations must continuously reinvent themselves to survive as long as FirstBank.

Today’s Nigerian banking industry is continually evolving and remains dynamic. While many CEOs appear to understand their competitive positions today, most of them are worried that new entrants, including established international technology organisations and fintechs could decide to use their sophisticated customer insights to disrupt the customer relationship models. “Disruption is a factor that remains constant in any industry. It is nothing new,” says Dr. Adeduntan. “But to endure as long as FirstBank has, institutions must be agile; they must reinvent themselves.

“FirstBank has retained that ability such that, irrespective of the leader at any point in time, it has been able to maintain its quality and standard.”

Dr. Adeduntan believes that FirstBank has made great effort to improve and transform its capabilities in a market characterised by rapidly changing customer preferences and constant technological changes. “We have articulated and are systematically pursuing our growth objectives,” he says. “To ensure success, we have made significant investment in our technology that has now enabled digital banking and we’ve been quite successful.

“Remarkably, FirstBank recently hit the N1 trillion mark in Firstmonie transactions, has over 10 million digital banking customers transacting actively on our FirstMobile and USSD applications, and has over 25,000 agencies in our Agent Banking Network – the largest in the country. We see these as leading indicators of what the future will look like and we have made investments in such areas, both internally and externally.”

FirstBank’s Firstmonie service has been at the forefront of providing essential financial services to the unbanked and underbanked communities in Nigeria. “We are particularly delighted about the progress we are making in supporting the Federal Government’s agenda in driving nationwide financial inclusion, exposing communities to opportunities for empowerment, growth, job and wealth creation,” Dr. Adeduntan explains.

For Dr. Adeduntan, at the heart of an agile and resilient business is technology-enabled innovation that allows organisations stay ahead of the curve. “The banking industry is very dynamic,” he says. “No one knows precisely how the industry will evolve, but we do know that technology will continue to play a critical role. As an industry leader, we must remain innovative to stay ahead of the market.

“Everything is about technology today; it is closely interwoven with our business. We see digital as an opportunity, an irreversible evolution. FirstBank was an early adopter and we continue to expand our digital frontiers, like embracing cloud solutions. In fact, for us, the rule for new solutions is ‘cloud first.'”

Amidst this digital and technological evolution, cyber risk remains a major concern that can upset the status quo. “The most concerning risk for the banking industry today is cyber security risk,” according to Dr. Adeduntan. “It is not enough to have platforms and solutions that excite customers; these platforms must be strengthened in ways that minimise losses to us and our customers.”

Throughout this document, “we”, “KPMG”, “us” and “our” refer to the network of independent member firms operating under the KPMG name and affiliated with KPMG International or to one or more of these firms or to KPMG International. 

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewees and survey respondents and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of KPMG International or any KPMG member firm.  KPMG’s involvement is not an endorsement, sponsorship or implied backing of any company’s products or services.