The financial institution has been in a hitch of controversies and Nigeria is not an exception. From the BVN integration, the restriction on foreign transactions, limitation in cash withdrawable and the end of year cash trap that left us all queuing endlessly at Automated Teller Machines with many of them not dispensing cash at all is a proof.
We have also seen the rise and rise of all forms of monies this year, from Bitcoin, Gold investment, One coin and the varied Ponzi schemes and we can agree that 2016 has been a defining year.
Nigeria’s youngest bank Heritage bank has surprised the world with the way she handled banking services despite the tough financial year and in spite of the calculated bad press whenever they made to take a step in positioning their bank merger with their over a yearEnterprise bank acquisition. Their previous 11 Heritage bank branches went up to 171 branches with the addition of 160 branches of Enterprise Bank with that came a culture mismatch that is expected.
Furthermore in a year were many banks and organisations sacked staff to be able to manage with the economic downturn that plunged Nigeria in a recession, Heritage bank maintained their 4,000 staff strength even when they should have laid off some of them.
It is our forecast that finding a culture fit for all the staff of the bank removing the ‘I am from Heritage” and ‘I am from Enterprise’ syndrome as well as upgrading all 171 branches to the model branch as can be seen in their Wuse zone 5 Abuja branch even though it will cost N60Million for each, will be a next policy.
In a recent interview, the Managing Director of the bank, Mr. Ifie Sekibo took time to explain the challenges of working with staff in a merger. In his words:
The biggest challenge is always the people. Our merger was one of the fastest and seamless, but the people were the problem. Now you say people who were former Heritage Bank and people who were in former Enterprise Bank, there would be a culture clash.
But we took time to educate ourselves that everybody must be equal on one platform. Now, is it possible that some people don’t believe in this dream? It is possible. Is it possible that some of us see the new outlook as a threat to their own survival? It is possible. Now, as the MD, it is my responsibility to gather them and keep selling the dream to them and keep explaining to them that we are better off together than trying to say I was former Heritage Bank or former Enterprise Bank.
Some of them are easily able to look at the new dream and run with it. Some find it difficult to run with it. Even those in the former Heritage Bank see the coming of other people to take their place as a challenge. So, culture is a challenge. We are working on it. We are having conversation and engagement. At our board meetings, we discuss. It would be miraculous for anybody to think that in one year you would be able to get a culture fit for both organisations. That is one of the core challenges of merger and I am sure that textbooks are filled with how to deal with such issues.
I love the fact that Heritage bank in spite of the teething problem of running a new bank, acquired Enterprise bank when Afreximbank funded them as submitted to the CBN. Heritage bank is squarely an SME funding brand and they have so far made SMEs stand out with their support. This green HB logo just springs hope to onlookers and so a great staff with a tenacious culture fit for efficient service delivery must be a major 2017 project for the bank.