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Thought Leaders in Ghana

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Q&A with Julian Kingsley Opuni, Deputy MD, Fidelity Bank


You are known for  excellence in creating  international partnerships, joint ventures and synergies within the international business community, how has this process evolved over the years?

Our vision is to create a world-class bank in Africa. In 10 years, we have become the largest Ghanaian, private sector bank in Ghana. This journey has not been achieved on our own. We are built on partnerships. When we needed technology as our operations expanded, we partnered with IBM, a global leader in technology, to stabilize our technology platform. We also bought Pro Credit in 2014 in our quest to expand our branch network and to strengthen our SME business.

Our core mission is how we impact the people and communities around us, and so we have partnered with several developmental organisations such as USAID, Financial Sector Deepening Africa, GIZ, Solidaridad and SNV to impact many lives in remote rural locations with financial services. As we advance into the digital era, we will continue to lead that charge through partnerships with various fintech and telcos. Products such our Yello Save,which is a partnership with MTN, will help us provide financial services quicker and faster to more people.

Looking back on the first decade or so with your firm, what have been the most significant developments in your bank?

Fidelity Bank’s strength in an arguably challenged banking environment is grounded firmly in the quality of our balance sheet and the adequacy of our capital. We were ranked 2nd among the top 10 banks (by balance sheet size) in terms of capital adequacy ratio in 2018. 

Over 75% of our balance sheet was in liquid and near liquid investments. We understand the trade-off between liquidity, risk and return,and our tactical strategy has been to make the necessary re-balancing adjustments to remain profitable and strong.

Fidelity Bank has embraced the digital landscape, offering a myriad of products and services for both Corporate and Personal Banking customers. Our most popular digital solutions for individual customers, is the Fidelity Mobile App which was built with the customer’s most important needs in mind. It is super easy to use, fast and very secure. You can generate eStatements, perform FX sale, make card limit requests, QR code to merchants,make internal transfer or transfer money to any mobile money wallet. 


 Julian Kingsley Opuni, Deputy MD, Fidelity Bank. Picture: Supplied

In our quest to make the society and the world at large a more sustainable place to live, we were awarded the Best CSR Bank for the second time at the 2015 Ghana Banking Awards. In 2016, we also won the best CSR Bank in the Sixth Ghana CSR Excellence Awards (GHACEA).

Ghana has one of the poorest sanitation records in Africa. To provide supply side solutions to sanitation, Fidelity Bank partnered with the Embassy for the Kingdom of Netherlands (EKN) and SNV Netherlands Development Organization to improve Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). With the support of USAID, the SMART Agri finance project was actively implemented with our field partners, SNV. 

This was primarily to raise the awareness of a savings culture through the use of digitized payment systems among small holder farmers(especially women). We provided over 2,600 farmers financial education, about 65% of them were women.

How do you impart knowledge to the younger generation?

We believe that the best way in which we can support the younger generation is through financial empowerment. 

We do that by developing innovative financial products that allow younger people to access easily finance.  

Our Smart Account and Agency banking proposition has enabled many young people to receive their first bank accounts. These accounts go with financial education materials that allow them to understand how to use their accounts. 

Cocoa is the mainstay of our economy, yet the average age of a cocoa farmer is over 55 yrs. We are working with Solidaridad with support from the MasterCard Foundation to deliver financial education to many young people to encourage them to take up cocoa farming.

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A Business Case For Cloud And Why Finance Needs A Seat At The Table

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Most businesses are by now already at one or another stage of the enterprise cloud transformation journey and a staggering 93 percent of business executives who participated in Deloitte’s 2018 global outsourcing survey, confirmed that their organisations were adopting – or at least considering adopting – cloud.

Deloitte South Africa Finance and Enterprise Performance Management Leader Phillip Hechter says that, “Cloud is not just here, but here to stay. With the potential for significant cost savings and enhanced strategic value, cloud represents a fundamental shift in how technology solutions are developed and in how they are delivered”.

However, a migration to cloud is not without its challenges and the bigger the organisation’s ambitions, the bigger those challenges.

Finance

In the latest iteration of its ‘Crunch time’ series, ‘Crunch Time 8: The CFO Guide to Cloud,’ Deloitte highlights the need for the CFO to take an active role in navigating the challenges that emerge during this process; as well as in making strategic decisions that leverage the technology’s full potential.

The lowered costs on offer with cloud, are one of its biggest drawcards. Broadly speaking, the operational costs are less expensive than those associated with on-site technology and there exists the prospect for massive returns on a cloud investment when what might be ‘unfamiliar’ cost categories – like operating model optimisation, speed-to-market and innovation – are taken into account, alongside more traditional ones.

New core finance platforms

“Cloud solutions should be the default starting point for new core finance platforms and some major Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) providers only offer cloud-native options now. The rest are at the very least, punting cloud-optimised versions of their software. Certain components may need to remain on-site for now and ERP providers will most probably continue to support on-site technology for at least the next decade; but it is unlikely that this will continue in the long run and the industry is now focusing its investments in innovation, in cloud services”, says Hechter.

Financial treatment

The accounting for traditional computing investments is based on established capitalisation principles, which are clearly set out in accounting regulations. In contrast, when it comes to cloud investments the regulatory framework is still evolving to reflect the fact that more and more organisations – across the board – are turning to cloud-based offerings, in order to satisfy their computing requirements.

As a result, the process of determining the appropriate financial treatment for cloud investments is a somewhat subjective one at the moment and each case – along with its unique facts and circumstances – needs to be carefully considered.

In terms of tax, a move to the cloud might impact an organisation’s current tax structures and allowable tax treatments vary in accordance with a number of different factors.

Negotiating contracts

Hechter adds that, “It is important that the approach taken in negotiations is a holistic one and that all deals take into account the costs, benefits and impacts for all parts of the business. Thus, it is crucial that Finance works together with Legal, Procurement and IT. External advisors can also prove valuable, especially in organisations that lack experience in cloud contracting”.

Cloud vendors typically build their services and pricing models and – more often than not – their contracts, around standardisation. This means that they are likely to push back against any major changes to standard agreements. Cloud providers are competing for market share, though, and so there exists the opportunity to negotiate for extra benefits and service capabilities – which could be a key source of competitive differentiation.

Cloud brings with it a range of opportunities for real innovation including reduced time-to-market, scalability and a way to drive agility and innovation. There are a host of examples of companies that are using cloud to transform their service and product offerings, improve efficiency, increase customer engagement and ultimately reap significant rewards as a result. It can be done but at the end of the day, what you get out of it depends on what you put in.

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Healthy Nations Are Wealthy Nations

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 We live in a world where even a pover­ty-stricken Ghanaian child can dream of solving Africa’s health problems. I believe that everything begins with a vision for a better future and a passion for one’s continent and people, with perseverance, no obstacle cannot be overcome. Perseverance conquers all difficulties.

While an individual cannot provide a solu­tion to all of Africa’s unmet health needs, any effort goes a long way. I was a Ghanaian child that dreamt of an Africa in which all citizens would have access to adequate and affordable healthcare.

Africa is the second most populous continent, and home to 16%of the world’s population. The continent receives just a mere 1% of global expenditure on healthcare, a fact which is not only morally reprehensible, but economically unsustainable for families and their entire countries, as evidenced by the high medical costs, often inaccurate diagnoses, med­ication errors, and inadequate or unsafe clinical facilities for those who cannot afford better.

How does Africa, with a public healthcare system that is largely under-resourced and underfunded, build healthier nations? I have a few ideas:

1. Africa’s healthcare gap is worse in low and middle-income countries where 10-15% of hospitalized patients can expect to acquire an infection during their stay, as compared to 5-7% in high-income countries. This is despite hospital-acquired infections being easily avoided through better hygiene, improved infection control practices and appropriate use of antimicrobials. Because of statistics such as these, I am committed to doing my part to bring quality healthcare to people in developing nations through my non-profit, R.E.S.T.O.R.E Worldwide Inc.

Through the R.E.S.T.O.R.E foundation, which is primarily focussed on reconstruc­tive surgery, not only do I donate my surgical skills, but also my vast knowledge in regard to sustainable healthcare and capacity building within the industry.

Individual efforts to better a community ultimately culminate into a nation built by individuals and this is the Africa we want to see. This is not as difficult as we think to implement in practical ways, for example; if ones passion point is education, one can gather a few of the young people in the area and conduct lessons.

2. I am privileged, not only to be able to pro­vide but also have access to quality healthcare. However, I realize that this is not universal. As I write this, my thoughts are with the people of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi who are affected by Cyclone Idai.

What the survivors of this tragedy have in common is their immediate need for resources, stability, comfort, and medical help, among many other things. As well all know, healthcare does not exist in a vacuum. Efforts also have to go towards improving education, skills, and resources, as well as creating strategic partner­ships among key stakeholders.

Public-private partnerships exist in all forms to lend a hand to all kinds of causes. Neighborhoods and local governments could team up for a cleaning exercise, professional associations and governing bodies can also team up to help a cause of their own, either as a short or long-term endeavour.

An estimated 60% of healthcare financing in Africa comes from private sources which is a testament to the fact that public-private partnerships are a sustainable and feasible way to grow any sector.

3. Africa is confronted by a heavy burden of diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV – not to mention the disease of “inadequate surgical providers”. Studies show a gross lack of knowledge about the basics of how to diagnose and manage common diseases

Africa is definitely ready for relevant, reli­able healthcare dialogue. The top 30 innovators showcased at the recently concluded WHO Africa Health Forum in Cape Verde has given me and all other stakeholders immense hope. These 30 brilliant minds from across Africa and beyond have developed simple solutions to the complex and unmet health needs on the continent and these are the success stories that reinforce my belief in the future of a healthy Africa.

4. As healthcare stakeholders, it’s our re­sponsibility to develop new medicines to treat disease, but these medicines are useless if they can’t get to the patients who need them the most. We need to commit ourselves to work to­gether with all other healthcare players and to move away from simply donating aid, to build­ing sustainable infrastructure and capacity.

To answer my opening question on how a public healthcare system that is largely so under-resourced and underfunded can build healthier nations; I say this is one way that a little boy from Ghana or any part of the pover­ty-stricken parts of the developing world can solve health problems in his or her community and ultimately build healthier nations across the globe. This can be done through identifying their passion point, doing all they can in their power, seeking out other like-minded stake­holders to partner with and working to create better paths for the generations to come.

-For more information visit: restoreworldwide.org

-Dr Michael K Obeng; Founder and CEO of RESTORE Worldwide, Inc. & Global Health Solution

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HUGO BOSS Partners With Porsche To Bring Action-Packed Racing Experience Through Formula E

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Brought to you by Hugo Boss

HUGO BOSS and Porsche have partnered to bring an action-packed racing experience to the streets of the world’s major cities through Formula E.

Formula E is known for its fascinating races globally. The partnership will have a strong focus on the future of motorsport. In doing so the races will host a unique series for the development of electric vehicle technology, refining the design, functionality and sustainability of electric cars while creating an exciting global entertainment brand.

HUGO BOSS which boasts a long tradition of motorsports sponsorship – has been successfully engaged in the electric-powered racing series since the end of 2017.

In this collaboration, HUGO BOSS brings its 35 years of experience and expertise in the motorsport arena to Formula E, as well as the dynamic style the fashion brand is renowned for.


Alejandro Agag (Formula E CEO) and Mark Langer (HUGO BOSS CEO)

Mark Langer HUGO BOSS, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) says that though they have been working successfully with motorsports over the years, he is exceptionally pleased that as a fashion brand they are taking the cooperation to new heights.

“As a fashion brand, we are always looking at innovative approaches to design and sustainability. When we first encountered Formula E, we immediately saw its potential and we are pleased to be the first apparel partner to support this exciting new motorsport series,” he says.

The fashion group is also the official outfitter to the entire Porsche motorsports team worldwide.

The fascination with perfect design and innovation, along with the Porshe and Hugo Boss shared passion for racing, inspired Hugo Boss to produce the Porsche x Boss capsule collection.

Its standout features include premium leather and wool materials presented in the Porsche and HUGO BOSS colors of silver, black and red.


Porsche x BOSS: introducing a new collaboration | BOSS

Since March, a range of menswear styles from the debut capsule collection is available online and at selected BOSS stores. In South Africa the first pieces of the capsule will come as a part of the FW 19 collection.

Alejandro Agag, Founder and CEO of Formula E says he is confident that the racers will put their best foot forward on the racecourse.

“This new partnership will see the team on the ground at each race dressed with a winning mindset and ready to deliver a spectacular event in cities across the world. As the first Official Apparel Partner of the series, we look forward to seeing the dynamic style and innovation on show that BOSS is renowned for,” says Agag.


Hugo Boss x Porsche  

Oliver Blume CEO of Porsche AG says Formula E is an exceptionally attractive racing series for motorsport vehicles to develop.

“It offers us the perfect environment to strategically evolve our vehicles in terms of efficiency and sustainability. We’re looking forward to being on board in the 2019/2020 season. In this context, the renowned fashion group HUGO BOSS represents the perfect partner to outfit our team.”

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