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Business News of Thursday, 15 October 2015

Source: B&FT

UT Bank’s recovery strategy showing positive results

Prince Kofi Amoabeng, CEO of UT Bank Prince Kofi Amoabeng, CEO of UT Bank

UT Bank, Ghana's premier home grown financial institution, has over the last few months made steady progress in returning to profitability.

The Bank has experienced financial challenges in the last two years, culminating in operating losses in the first four months of this year. These challenges coupled with the poor financial results reported for the first quarter of the current year, forced management of the bank to embark on a turnaround strategy aimed at reversing this trend.

Responding to this downward trend, UT Bank, led by its CEO, Mr. P. K. Amoabeng took some bold decisions by first restructuring senior management. Over the last six months, new seasoned senior management staff have been hired to strengthen the team.

Mr. Stephen Antwi-Asimeng with over 25 years banking experience heads the new team as the Chief Operating Officer. Prior to his appointment as COO at UT Bank, Mr. Antwi-Asimeng was the Chief Operating Officer at Universal Merchant Bank and is expected to drive the new strategic direction of being the preferred bank in the country. He brings on board solid professional experience in Banking & Finance, Investment, Management and Leadership and is directly responsible for Banking Operations, Banking Technology, Compliance, Service Quality and General Services. He has held several Senior and Executive Management positions including Board level appointments in the banking and financial services industry in Ghana.

Ms. Gillian Slater is the new Chief Financial Officer with very rich experience in international finance. She is a seasoned financial professional with 24 years of experience gained in several multinational organizations across three continents, namely, Europe, USA and Africa. She joins UT Bank tasked to drive financial performance with direct supervision over Finance, Treasury, and Investor Relations. Until her appointment, Ms. Slater was the Chief Finance Officer of UT Holdings, parent company of UT Bank. She has been involved in a number of successful rationalization, growth and turnaround strategies for some of the subsidiaries in the UT Group and also in her position as head of Finance Decision Support for Vodafone Ghana.

Also, joining the new team as General Manager for Banking Operations is Mr. Kwame Amenyo Akaba. He has over 23 years banking experience having served in various capacities with Ecobank affiliates in Liberia, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. He also worked with Ecobank Transnational Incorporated Group as well as Standard Chartered Bank. He joined UT from Universal Bank where he was Director of Operations.

Mr. Mark Yeboah Achiampong with 15 years banking experience takes the General Manager for Retail Banking position and comes in with a strong background in SME’s and Retail Banking from Standard Chartered Bank and Stanbic Bank. At Stanbic, he was the Head of Commercial Banking and later Head of New Markets and Segment Proposition.

Latest interim financial results for the third quarter of this year, show a steady improvement since the beginning of the second quarter. This is a positive sign of the impact of the turnaround plan being implemented. "We are happy with the progress made so far with our Turnaround Plan and are committed to the broader goal of the Business Transformation Plan which seeks to strengthen the structure of our business to achieve efficient business continuity. We are hopeful that we will cover the losses we made in the first quarter of the year and believe that, indeed the worst is behind us”, says, CEO of the bank, Kofi Amoabeng.

The Bank’s Transformation Plan includes leadership changes which will see the current CEO, Mr. Amoabeng stepping down by the end of this fiscal year. It is his expectation that by the time he leaves office, he would have overseen a management transition that would continue the successful implementation of the Turnaround Plan. Commenting on the current state of affairs, Mr. Amoabeng expressed confidence in the future - " I am focused on ensuring that we achieve fully the objectives of the Turnaround Plan. To this effect we are putting in place a new dynamic leadership team that will take the bank to the next level".

The Turnaround Plan has several elements that include Loan Recovery, Deposit Mobilization, improved Risk Management, additional capital injection and aggressive Cost Reduction.

A new Loan Recovery Unit has been established with aggressive debt collection targets driven by a major internal effort to institutionalize a loan recovery culture within the bank. The Recovery unit can recommend the prosecution of recalcitrant borrowers where necessary but is also focused on working out credible repayment plans for borrowers in default.

The Cost Reduction element of the Turnaround Plan involves new initiatives to enhance operational efficiencies, eliminate waste and bring costs down to acceptable industry standards.

“Our overall goal is to apply the valuable lessons we have learned as an SME-focused bank to continue to serve our core market, the SME s and the individual customer. We will continue to develop and introduce new products and services for SMEs and position ourselves as the go-to SME retail bank” Amoabeng concluded.