Story: Atta Kwaku Boadi
The Today Newspaper presents Part Two of the GN Bank story as told by one of its Founders. Part Three will be published next week. As told by the Founder, “This is our attempt to tell a good story, a true story, a story about Ghanaian entrepreneurship, the GN Bank story. It’s a story of courage, selflessness and love of country.”
Readers may recall that the results of a Bank of Ghana (BoG)study confirmed what GN Bank stakeholders have maintained all along, that extraordinary circumstances engineered by others, led to the closure of the bank with the largest footprint in Ghana. Officials of the bank have documents to prove the fact that GN Bank was one of the most liquid banks in the country due to innovative products and a solid national retail network.
The Today newspaper’s own investigations discovered the results of diagnostic studies commissioned by the BoG in 2015.
The results were reviewed by BoG’s Supervision Department officials and confirmed during the first quarter of 2016.
BoG wrote to GN Bank that the results of the study showed that “…your bank was assessed to hold adequate provision for your financial exposures.” The diagnostic study into the loans and investments of banks in the case of GN Bank was performed by the international accounting firm Ernst & Young. This fact is incontrovertible.
What the Founder finds intriguing is that while GN Bank was adjudged to be in good shape, a number of other banks were considered unsafe, their foundation shaky due to huge bad loan burdens and inadequate provisioning. Strangely enough, a number of these banks are still operating as “well run” banks while GN Bank was reclassified to become a savings and loans company and then its license abruptly revoked by BoG without a review of how it had performed after the reclassification.
The question is, what happened after 2016? What destroyed GN Bank? Experts consulted by Today newspaper, point to the freezing of government infrastructure projects and the halting of payments for certified projects. This made loans to government contractors go bad, and as default rates rose, the liquidity situation of not only GN Bank but other financial institutions suffered.
The bank’s main shareholder was told by the BoG Governor, Dr. Ernest Addison that he was aware of the indebtedness of government institutions and so GN Bank and another financial institution that still exists with similar challenges would not be touched. Indeed, the Governor agreed to help to collect receivables from COCOBOD where he is a board member so that the bank’s universal bank license could be restored.
We will explore what happened and caused the abrupt revocation of license next week.
In 2018, GN Bank management led by the Chairman Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom went on a national tour to convince Ghanaians to stick with indigenous banks. Here is what they learnt:
GN Bank was not a regular bank. It was a special, national retail bank.
It was the one in many towns other banks can’t or don’t want to go. So it developed a unique clientele who came to rely on it for safe keeping and transfers of their monies. Towns like Wecchiaw, Tumu, Wa, Nandom, Nadowli, Gwollu; Tempane, Widana, Paga, Navrongo, Bolga; Walewale, Savelugu, Karaga, Saboba, Tamale, Yendi; Kintampo, Ejura, Techiman, Kwame Danso, Wenchi, Chiraa, Goaso; Bogoso, Prestea, Akontombra; Ayanfuri, Dunkwa, Asebu, Anomabo, and many others.
Many small businesses expanded their reach to other towns and regions because GN Bank offered them the ability for their customers to deposit monies into their accounts.
The convenience factor offered by GN Bank was appreciated by many plus the pride that there is a universal bank nearby.
The following provides an insight into the guidance given by the Chairman Dr. Nduom to Management and staff of GN Bank. This Today believes accounts for the ability of the Bank to grow rapidly, expand nationally be known as a believer of the local economy:
“GN Bank was founded on May 30, 1997 as First National Savings & Loans Company Limited. However, it took until 2006 to get the license from the Bank of Ghana to begin operations. It took nine years of persistence, patience and paying professionals repeatedly to write and update business plans, policies and procedures, etc.
It was launched as a Universal Bank on September 18, 2014 and rebranded GN Bank.
We started small, from the boys quarters of a house at North Ridge which also served as our head office. From less than 10 employees in 2006, the bank now has over 2,900 employees.
From the beginning we wanted to be “the People’s Bank”.
To be a truly National Bank for the Ordinary person namely; Farmers, Professionals, Students, Workers, and Small and Medium Scale Entrepreneurs in Ghana.
This sits within the Groupe Nduom framework:
“We serve our customers with enthusiasm, innovation and discipline”
and for the company, we serve with loyalty”
GN Bank’s vision and mission confirm our perpetual commitment to being the national bank for the ordinary person and a strategy to get close to our clients. The People’s Bank will be there for all people.
The Groupe Nduom tradition is one of start small, practice our abilities on internal clients, slow down on external publicity and begin to move out and do some publicity when we achieve a good level of maturity. In essence, it is not our style to do “hoohoo” or “huhu” when we have no justification to do so. This applies to individual company start ups and the introduction of new products and services. GN Bank is reaching maturity and must now ring its bells loud, clear and often for all to take note and patronize its unparalleled services.
GN Bank will not build huge, fancy offices just because we are becoming a universal bank. Where we can, we have acquired land and have started putting up cost-effective office buildings so we are not overburdened with huge rental cost. If any of these locations grow and outlive the size of building we are putting up, we will expand the structures to suit the business. Our concentration is to combine the use of ‘High Touch’ customer service and technology our clients can feel to achieve excellence. That is our path to become ‘The Best Big Bank’.
From a people’s perspective, our strategy is to staff each new office with a Coordinator, or an Operations Officer or a Manager depending on our initial thinking about the prospects for the location. We have been wrong a few times and sometimes pleasantly surprised by the performance of some offices. There are offices in the cities and bigger towns have disappointed us greatly. On the other hand, offices in Dunkwa, Nandom, Wa, etc. have proven us right.
Our primary purpose is not to be loan-making. We are to provide access to a safe place for people and businesses to keep and transfer their money; and to provide services to facilitate local trade and industry.
Everyone must go through the following presentation, understand the contents and re-orient our employees to know who we are. We are not Barclays, Ecobank, Stadard Chartered, GCB or any other bank. We are GN Bank, The People’s Bank!
People Are Everything
1. Enthusiastic, Eager To Work
2. Physically Active, Moving With Urgency
3. People Friendly – Meet, Greet, Smile, Happy to see customers, no matter who They Are, Happy To Meet New People
4. Neatly, Properly Dressed for Work, with Professional Appearance
5. Self-Motivated, Achievers, Competitive
6. Keep Hygyienic, Clean, Physical Environment
1. Punctual to Work, Put In Full Complete Day
2. Close From Work When Work Is Done
3. Does Not Leave Today’s Problem For Tomorrow
4. Work Not Done Until Reports Are Done And averything Balances
5. Nothing Left In Suspense
6. We Saty Close To Our Customers, Know Their Businesses
7. Use Constant Communication and Knowledge to Ensure We Keep Loan Accounts Current
What Are We Selling?
1. Safe Place To Keep Money
2. Ability to Access Funds Anywhere In The Country At No Cost
3. Easy, Convenient Money Transfer – International And Domestic
4. Easy, Convenient Opportunity To Facilitate MSME Business – “Cradle to Heaven”
How Are We Different, Unique?
1. We love Our Mobile Bankers
2. We Welcome Small Account Holders
3. We Are Happy To Go Where Other Bankers Don’t Want To Go. We Are Everywhere People Want To Be
4. We Are Committed To Be The MSME Investment Bank
5. We Are the Best Savings Bank
What Do We Want From Our Managers?
1. Maintain Discipline Among Our People and Operations2. Hands-On Supervision Of Work – Know Our Customers, Visit Them, Talk To Them
3. Enforce Zero Tolerance For Fraud, Stealing, Cash Suppression4. Win Customers And Build Business
5. Give The Bank Credibility With Personal Performance
Prerequisite: personal integrity, credibility, discipline, knowledge, enthusiasm, great physical appearance.”