The expansion of Guaranty Trust Bank into Sierra Leone in 2002 served to radically transform the nation’s banking landscape and bring it in line with modern, customer-centric, technology-driven banking provision. Guaranty Trust Bank (Sierra Leone) Limited (GTBank (SL) Ltd) delivers a suite of innovative financial products and services that are specifically designed to meet the divergent needs of Sierra Leone. This has helped to expand the breadth of the economy, while the massive expansion of branch networks has helped reach the underserved and unbanked population. There is also the improved efficiency triggered by the introduction of more advanced technology and increased competition among industry players.
GTBank (SL) is a subsidiary of Guaranty Trust Bank PLC, Nigeria, a leading international bank which is recognised as one of the most profitable and well-managed financial institutions in Africa. GTBank PLC is also one of the most actively traded listed companies on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, with a market capitalisation in excess of $4.3bn as of 31 December 2016. GTBank PLC’s Global Depositary Receipts and 7.5% $500m Guaranteed Notes due 2016 (Eurobond) are listed on the London Stock Exchange.
In addition to GTBank (SL), GTBank Group has a strong footprint in West Africa with banking operations in the Ivory Coast, The Gambia, Ghana and Liberia. It also has an established presence in East Africa with banking operations in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. The group also commenced banking operations in the UK in 2008 through Guaranty Trust Bank (UK) Ltd.
The performance of GTBank (SL) in the Sierra Leone market, particularly in recent years, has made it a household name within the corporate and consumer banking sectors, on account of its efficient delivery of services, innovation, and year-on-year growth. The bank has consistently been the most profitable and best run bank in Sierra Leone over the past four years – despite fierce competition – and continues to expand its products and services to reach all sectors of the economy.
The success of the bank is driven by the astute strategic decision-making of the board and management. GTBank (SL) has been able to capture value throughout its strategic networks to gain a competitive edge over its peers in the Sierra Leone banking industry. Despite the economic and societal challenges, especially the 2014 Ebola virus pandemic, GTBank (SL) has been able to maintain a consistent growth trajectory over the past four years. The bank achieved 31% of industry profit in 2015 and recorded year-on-year growth in profitability of 42% in 2013 (SLL15.43bn/$1,979,342), 58% in 2014 (SLL21.85bn/$2,774,342), 35% in 2015 (SLL46.76bn/$6,062,631) and 15% in 2016 (SLL53.81 bn/$6,984,342).
The bank’s earning assets have enjoyed year-on-year growth of 36.11% (2013), 17.63% (2014), 34% (2015) and 12% (2016) thus, creating more wealth for the country. It is worth noting that the growth in earning assets has been complemented by improvement in the quality of the assets. Non-performing loan ratio improved from 10.9% in 2013 to 2.5% in March 2017. There was a marked improvement in the operational efficiency of the bank as shown by the decline of growth rate in operational expenses from 13% in 2013 down to 1% in 2016. The decline was a reflection of the success of the bank’s cost containment strategy.
GTBank (SL) has strived to dominate the low-high end of its market in Sierra Leone, leveraging on its acquired expertise in selected market segments, such as telecommunications, general commerce, energy, retail, SMEs, mining and construction. The bank has acquired a significant business portfolio across Sierra Leone’s major companies and their value chains. To drive its retail business, GTBank (SL) has significantly increased its branch networks to 15, spreading across the major economic areas of the country and utilsing its operational efficiency and online real-time technological advantage. The bank’s reach has enabled it to acquire more customers from the underserved and unbanked population. It has been able to introduce innovative financial products that have helped to increase cash collections and create a more stable network of savings account deposits.
The bank also has 25 ATMs, the highest of any bank in Sierra Leone, with a Leone-denominated MasterCard, which can provide 24/7 banking services anywhere in the world. This is all in addition to an established internet banking platform.
Hard work and dedication
Gbenga Alade, CEO of GTBank (SL), believes strongly that perseverance and belief is essential to success: “Anywhere you find yourself is a goldmine. If you are not getting gold now, maybe you haven’t dug deep enough, keep digging.” It’s a philosophy that has paid dividends for the bank as it continues to excel and transform the nation’s banking landscape.
What elevates the performance of GTBank (SL) over its competitors is the solid managerial support, and technical and operational expertise provided by GTBank PLC. GTBank PLC will continue to play, a major role in ensuring the progression of GTBank (SL)’s growth potential through the deployment of operational best practices and cross-selling potential. GTBank PLC will also continue to encourage a broader range of products and services tailored to the specific needs of GTBank (SL)’s existing and potential customers.
The performance of the GTBank (SL) over recent years has shown a clear demonstration of flexibility and resilience in the face of adversity – this has been recognised on a number of occasions both locally and internationally. In July 2015 it was presented with the ‘International Award for Excellence and Leadership’ by the Global Trade Leaders’ Club in Spain. The award provided a significant boost in the drive for brand recognition and a crowned of several years of hard work.
GTBank (SL) believes strongly in maintaining a healthy relationship with its community, educational institutions, charities and non-governmental organisations throughout Sierra Leone. Each year, a share of the bank’s profits goes towards supporting these institutions and other worthwhile causes. Recent CSR initiatives by the bank include building a children’s playground, sponsoring the first ever Freetown International Marathon in 2014, donating classrooms to schools and financing a power supply to a police headquarters.
GTBank (SL) has become the bank of choice for the discerning public and investment community in Sierra Leone, and it’s poised for bigger things as it improves on its capacity to provide excellent customer service. It intends to achieve this by raising equity to increase lending capacity, make further investment in its technological infrastructure and most importantly, provide the very best training for its highly valued and dedicated staff.