Although one of the youngest banks in Ghana, having only opened its doors to the country’s banking public in October 2016, First National Bank has arrived fully equipped to raise the bar in standards of commercial banking.
First National Bank Ghana is the subsidiary of South Africa’s First Rand Limited which is one of the five largest banking groups in sub-Saharan Africa. The bank head quartered in South Africa also has a presence in Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique, Zambia, Kenya, Angola and Tanzania.
Ghana marks the group’s entry into West Africa for the first time with a Commercial and Retail offering. Another member of the First Rand Group – Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), an investment bank – has been operating in neighboring Nigeria as RMB Nigeria with coverage for investment banking for Ghana.
Thus Ghana becomes the first country in the sub region to benefit from the First Rand group’s exemplary brand of commercial banking, which is set to raise the standards for the nation’s fiercely competitive banking industry, to the immense benefit of Ghana’s banking public.
According to Victor Yaw Asante, Head of Commercial, Corporate and Investment Banking, Victor Yaw Asante, First National Bank has arrived in Ghana with the unparalleled financial backing of one of Africa’s biggest and most accomplished financial services groups.
Its parent, First Rand provides banking, insurance, investment products and services to retail, commercial, corporate and public sector customers, not just in Africa but also in the UK, Dubai China and India, where it also has offices.
This means First National Bank Ghana is part of a truly global banking group that is not just an industry leader across sub-Saharan Africa but is also active in some of the world’s main financial centres as well.
First National Bank group members collectively operate 870 branches and more than 6,600 automated teller machines (ATMs).
Apart from First National Bank, the commercial banking arm of the group and Rand Merchant Bank, its investment banking arm, First Rand is also a leader in asset finance as well, with its other subsidiary- WesBank - being South Africa’s largest provider of car loans among other consumer banking activities.
RMB Westport is also a unit of the group that has already established a significant presence in Ghana with involvement in a number of property finance which includes some of Accra’s new iconic office buildings and Malls.
The extensive geographical reach which First National Bank Ghana is leveraging through its parent company, is matched by the financial strength of First Rand Group. By the end of 2016, the First Rand Group had US$86 billion in assets, from which it made revenues last year of US$7.2 billion and gross profits of US$5.2 billion.
The bank started out with the highest start up capital in the history of Ghana’s banking industry – which still stood at a sturdy GHc135.860 million by the end of 2016.
This balance sheet strength is providing financial backing for First National Bank, Ghana. At the end of 2016, First National had the second highest capital adequacy ratio (measured broadly as shareholders funds as a proportion of total assets) in Ghana at 47.85% which is nearly five times the minimum regulatory requirement of 10%.
First National Bank is putting its comparatively strong financial strength at the disposal of its clients, and determined to bring its reputation of innovation and superior products to its new market in Ghana.
According to Victor Yaw Asante, the strategy is to develop and deploy the best quality products, services platforms and delivery systems in the industry. The bank’s early success in this is evidenced by the significant growth in deposit it had attracted by the end of 2016, a few months after it had opened its doors to the public.
More importantly, he said, even as First National Bank’s financial solidity makes it one of the safest havens for depositors, while the extensive foot prints and trade corridors the group covers, offers new opportunities to Ghanaian businesses.
“First National Bank’s excellent international banking, global treasury and international trade finance capabilities have arrived in Ghana. The bank is deploying what is widely acclaimed as the best digital banking infrastructure and systems on the entire continent to Ghana.
“This means the customers now have access to the highest quality of transactional banking products and services to be found anywhere in the world,” he said.
He noted, all these ingredients have positioned First National to literally take Ghana’s banking services market by storm.
Mr. Yaw Asante said an indigenous African bank, which stands shoulder to shoulder with the biggest, most financially solid, most capable banking groups, is now represented in Ghana.
According to him, certainly, First National Bank Ghana’s sheer pedigree puts it right at the top of the country’s banking industry right from the start.