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Wema Bank: Exit of a Fintech Guru and Entry of another IT Czar – THISDAY Newspapers

Olaoluwakitan Babatunde
Just as a golden era closed last week, another decade of consolidated growth and development anchored on digital optimisation and innovation beckons in Wema Bank Plc as Moruf Oseni assumed the reins of leadership of the oldest indigenous bank in Nigeria after a purposeful and legacy defining leadership of Ademola Adebise who retired after a glorious 12 years stint.
Adebise, a fintech guru, a consummate corporate engineer and manager, a computer expert and the man who built competitiveness for Wema through digital banking innovation and process re-engineering, is coincidentally succeeded by another astute Computer Engineer and erudite banker with proven prowess in corporate banking, treasury management, and   digital optimisation and innovation. The twin event of last week is, therefore, a win-win for the bank.
Adebise who joined Wema Bank in 2009 from Accenture Nigeria as an Executive Director, and later became Managing Director/CEO in 2018, was Executive director in charge of South Bank, Deputy Managing Director (supervising Corporate Banking, Treasury, and Support Functions at Wema Bank (2009 to 2017)
In July 2018, Adebise became the acting Managing Director, following the retirement of Segun Oloketuyi his predecessor. On approval by the Central Bank of Nigeria, he became the substantive Managing Director/CEO.
Adebise obtained a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science between 1983 and 1987.
From the University of Lagos Adebise h and a master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the Lagos Business chool and attended the Advanced Management Program (AMP) of the Harvard Business School. Adebise led Wema Bank to its most outstanding and sterling financial epoch, producing a streak of unrivalled financial performance in the history of the bank in the last four years.
He returned smiles to the faces of weary shareholders by paying dividends in the last three years after a 14 year-wait. Today, shareholders are smiling and happy with the bank. His share reconstruction programme of the bank has led to accelerated share price growth and capital appreciation for the shareholders thereby building wealth for them. He expanded the Bank’s footprints to other locations in Nigeria, and improved the performance of the Bank and spearheaded the first dividend payment in 14 years. Since then, he has ensured consistent dividend payment over the last 4 years.
The Bank has grown its Total Assets by 155%, from N470 billion to over N1.2trillion. Deposits also grew by 214% from N350 billion to N1.1 trillion. He initiated the partnership with Bank of Africa to support its customers across the African continent which has increased the Bank’s market share and customer base. All these led to an additional growth of 2 million customer accounts in Nigeria and a market share of 3% of industry volumes. The Bank is now the leading collection bank for state and government agencies due to its effective and efficient platform. The Bank’s rating by agencies was upgraded to BBB investment grade.
His best legacy at Wema Bank is undoubtedly the ALAT platform, the first fully digital bank in Nigeria which allows customers to open and operate their accounts without visiting the bank’s branches. Customers can apply for loan, forex and make multiple payments through ALAT thereby making banking convenient, safe and fast for the customers.
The Bank significantly changed the digital landscape through the ALAT platform. The innovative platform also came tops in the KPMG Digital Scorecard for leading retail banks in Nigeria and this was based on in-depth insights into the state of user experience on retail banks’ digital channels. Furthermore, the Bank launched the first SME Business School for capacity building and empowerment of SMEs – this has benefitted over 20,000 small businesses.
The Bank also became one of the founding members of the United Nations Environmental plan for financial institutions (UNEP-FI) and continues to provide digital solutions for societal impact. Adebise also embarked on fresh capital raising through a rights issue through which N40 billion fresh capital was raised. This has strengthened the resilience and solidity of the oldest indigenous bank in the country. He changed the demographics of the work force, attracting and hiring young professionals for the bank, a development that has brought improvement s in business processes, outputs and efficiency.
Among the numerous awards Wema Bank won under his leadership include the “Best digital bank (Fintech award)”, and The “Best Bank in customer service by KPMG”. The bank’s efficiency rating also went many notches up, as was adjudged as one of the best three banks in the first half of 2022 by Nairametrics, among others.
The new Managing Director/CEO, Oseni, comes on board with ample executive management experience and proven leadership and managerial attributes. He joined Wema Bank in June 2012 as an Executive Director, and has over 25 years of experience with more than 16 years at Senior and Executive Management levels.
He was an Executive Director for six years and Deputy Managing Director for the last four years and has demonstrated capacity to lead the Bank. As DMD, Oseni was responsible for the Digital Optimisation Directorate which includes Digital, Retail, Treasury, Operations, and the Technology Divisions. Oseni was also the Executive Compliance Officer of the Bank. He supervised the launch of ALAT – Nigeria’s 1st digital Bank that has received local and global awards and multiple accolades. Before joining Wema Bank, he was the CEO of MG Ineso Limited, a principal investment and financial advisory firm.
Prior to MG Ineso, Oseni was a Vice President at Renaissance Capital, and an Associate at Salomon Brothers/Citigroup Global Markets in London. The new Wema bank MD holds an MBA from the Institut European d’Administration des Affaires (INSEAD) in France, a Master’s in Finance (MiF) from the London Business School and a B.Sc. in Computer Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Nigeria. He is also an alumnus of both the Advanced Management Programme (AMP) of the Harvard Business School and King’s College, Lagos.
Financial analysts believe that the growth and upward trajectory momentum of Wema Bank will continue to accelerate and move in leaps and bounds under Oseni who has exercised oversight and superintendence on all the business and technical divisions of the bank and made them market leaders.
Meanwhile, Shareholders too have endorsed the leadership succession at Wema Bank Plc with the active retail shareholders expressing optimism that the appointment of Mr. Moruf Oseni will lead to improved performance in the years ahead.
Chairman, Ibadan Zone Shareholders Association (IBZA), Mr. Eric Akinduro said the succession was indicative of good corporate governance at the bank as the seamless transition will enable the bank to build on its growth momentum.
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