Tajudeen Afolabi Adeola, the 5th child of a bank clerk father and petty trading mother, is a man who can be rightly said to have entered the Nigerian banking industry and conquered it. He is a co-founder on Guaranty Trust Bank [GTB] Plc, which was incorporated in July 1990 and commenced operations in 1991. In less than a quarter of a century, the bank became the banking industry leader by profit volume. It is presently one of the top two most profitable banks in Nigeria.
Adeola is a chartered accountant and attended a number of management development programmes including Harvard Business School INSEAD and Institute for Management Development in Switzerland. He also completed a one-year sabbatical at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies in Kuru, Jos, where he carried out research on economic development and job creation policies.
He is an accomplished banker with an institution that has become a global brand to show that Nigerians can build from scratch a bank of global status in a fraction of time it took to build many global banks. In the world of banking, high growth and efficiency are not known to go together and that is why banking is traditionally known as a conservative business.
Nigerians however have changed that tradition and have succeeded in building banks that achieved some of the highest growth rates in the world, adding efficiency to the growth function and successfully eliminating conservatism. Adeola is one of these Nigerian bankers that have made a once creeping profession to get up and run well. His GTB is a living testimony that a newly born bank can rule a century old industry in 20 years.
Adeola started GTB with a unique definition that reflects a careful study of the banking industry structure and a firm strategy to run a bank different from the rest. The bank took off from day one with a lean operating structure that was carved to achieve operational efficiency in both the front and back offices. It has maintained that structure till date.
The result is that the bank delivers its services and earns its income at significantly lower cost than competitors. Conversely, the bank is able to convert a bigger proportion of revenue into profit than any other major bank in the industry. This explains why GTB, which is the 5th largest revenue earner in the banking industry, is the 2nd largest profit earner. It uses less assets and less revenue than other banks to build one of the largest shareholder values obtained in the banking sector.
Such an operational uniqueness is yet to be matched by any other large bank in the system. How Adeola was able to carve a firm footing of efficiency and high quality arms of customer service delivery and keep the bank within the track long after leaving office is a wonder in the business of banking. All through the years, the banking industry has faced major challenges that led to high volatility in the earnings of both the big and the small banks.
GTB has however shown the least volatility, which has earned it a reputation as the most stable bank. Stability underscores low exposure to investment risk, as the bank has maintained the least variation of actual earnings figures from the expected. That stability, which has led to investor dependability, has earned the bank the highest share price in the equities market among banking stocks.
Adeola grew up from a large family setting where hard work was the only option for getting ahead in life. That enabled him to learn early in life the skills of products selling, which he called into play in the crowded banking services marketplace of the 1990s. He laid the foundation of GTB’s service delivery platform on an institutional structure carved like that of a wholesale bank. That created a niche for it in the marketplace that attracted high net worth customers and large volume businesses to the bank.
By the time Adeola opened the doors of GTB for formal operations in 1991, the Nigerian banking industry had existed for nearly a century. In less than a quarter of a century, the bank has become one of the banking industry leaders with a balance sheet size expected to be in excess of N3 trillion at the end of 2016.
GTB presents a model of successful indigenous business organization in Nigeria’s volatile financial services industry where many banks that opened up shops about the same period fell along the way. The difference between success and failure, particularly in a banking institution is management quality. That explains why GTB survived the mass banking closures and liquidations that soon followed the liberalised bank licensing in the mid 1980s.
GTB’s outstanding performance reflects its unique management quality, rapid expansion of market share, products innovation as well as the high quality customer service delivery that has marked it as a customer friendly bank. The bank began with middle to top-tier focus where it soon established a distinctive mark of excellence, which earned it a top brand among the new generation banks.
How fast a bank can grow in an already established market controlled by giants depends on how effective it can launch competitive attacks at the market frontline. The ability to retain customers depends on how efficient is the service delivery at the back office. GTB appears to be a model of operating strength in both the front and back office configurations.
Adeola was the new ground breaker in the marketing frontline while his co-founder of the bank – Mr. TayoAderinokun [his blessed memory] was a versatile back office man. They jointly built GTB to become a typical example of a business with strategies clearly defined; values and guidelines well laid out and faithfully followed. The high growth driven by aggressive marketing was reinforced by robust service capacity of the back office support.
The result is an institution that is differentiated in the crowded marketplace of the 1990s. Corporate strategists agree that institutional and product differentiation is what a bank entering into a long established oligopolistic banking market needed for it to be able to extract market share from the industry leaders.
Most bank promoters then knew about product differentiation but Adeola and his colleague are the few that made it happen for their own bank. Some other banks started well in the same direction but GTB is one of the few that stuck to its strategy through the thick and thin.
Adeola is an outstanding name in Nigerian banking, one of the few Nigerian bank promoters whose seed is enduring, breaking new ground and holding even greater promises for the future. He has taken Nigeria’s home bred banking service quality beyond borders. GTB is strongly rooted across the West African regional market as well as in the United Kingdom.
The bank has, in 25 years, evolved to become one of Africa’s leading banks with a unique reputation for efficiency, innovation and high quality customer service. It has established significant footprints in offshore markets and is poised to become a major player in the African market.