Overview Of The Firstbank Nigeria Plc
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Published: Wed, 17 May 2017
FIRSTBANK Nigeria Plc is one of the oldest financial institutions and indeed the largest retail lender in Nigeria, it’s the 1st bank to be established in West Africa. The bank was incorporated in Liverpool as a Limited Liability company in March 1894 with the name Bank of British West Africa. The bank was listed on the Nigerian Stock exchange (NSE) in March 1971 after which it acquired its name – First Bank of Nigeria in 1979. Following the CBN induced industry-wide consolidation in 2005 the bank acquired its merchant banking subsidiary, FBN Merchant Banker ltd and MBC int’l Bank Plc. FirstBank maintains a subsidiary in United Kingdom which has a branch in Paris, the bank also has representative offices in South Africa, China and Dubai through which it offers offshore financial services. Presently the Bank’s assets are in excess of N100billion.
1.2 THE NATURE AND SIZE
FIRSTBANK as a leading commercial bank has the largest network of branches in the country, over the years the bank has continually reviewed its organizational structure and corporate identity in line with changing financial environment. Known for its uniqueness for being dependably dynamic and stability, 1st Bank has made for its self a name, a brand goodwill associated with fidelity and safety of funds.
Being a key player in the nation’s financial-banking sector, Firstbank delivers a wide range of financial services to its numerous customers; the bank is well known for innovative changes in technological device and service delivery. Being the first bank to introduce a Biometric ATM i.e. an ATM machine that uses both pin no selection and finger prints to identify transaction buttresses this point. The bank through its acquired subsidiaries also provide other financial services and they include, insurance policies, housing schemes, asset portfolio management.
1.3 PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
FIRSTBANK offers a wide range of wholesale, retail and consumer banking products and services in ensuring that it keeps true to its name as the 1st bank of choice in the country,. Our products include:
ƒ˜ CONSUMER BANKING: Generic Savings Account, Current Account, First Premium Term Deposit, First Savings Plus Account, First Hifi (Children) Account, First Current Plus Current Account(with zero COT), FIRST Current Business Account, First Dom Account, First Instant Savings
Account. All accounts have the flexibility of over the counter withdrawals given the new CBN policy, ATM cards, Dividend warrants lodgment and access to E-Banking services.
ƒ˜ WHOLESALE BANKING: The services and products therein are further divided into
ASSET PRODUCTS: They include- Term loans, Overdraft, Oil and Gas contract finance(OGCF), Bankers’ Acceptance, Commercial Papers, Bills Discounting, Project Finance, Equipment Leasing etc,
INTERNATIONAL TRADE FINACE: Includes but not limited to- Import finance, Export Finance, Clean lineconfirmation, Letters of Credit, Bills for Collection, Forex Trading Invisible RemittancesPayment for Services.
ƒ˜ E- BANKING:
First Online which allows you to transact business online at the comfort or your home or offices.
First Alert-Instant notification on your account
First Mobile-Access to your account through you phone, it includes buying of airtime and payment of utility bills.
First Pay and First Collect-effect payment and several collection to and from your merchants.
FIRST CARDS : Debit and Credit cards which include- MasterCard, FirstBank Naira MasterCard, First Cash Card, Visa Card (Gold, Classic and Infinite), Visa Credit Card. Notice that all cards issued by the bank comes with FIRSTBANK brand name- FIRST
FIGURE 1C:UsersDanielDesktopCYNTHIAFirstBank MasterCard.jpg
C:UsersDanielDesktopCYNTHIAVISA_GOLD2.gif C:UsersDanielDesktopCYNTHIAFirstCash Card.jpg
ƒ˜ MONEY TRANSFER: FIRSTBANK offers funds transfer services locally and internationally through mediums like- First Domestic Transfer, Western Union, Money Gram and RIA.
ƒ˜ OTHER SERVICES: Other services rendered by the bank includes- Agricultural Financing, FIRST Diaspora banking services for Nigerians in Diaspora and Bills Payment for prompt settlement of utility bills(e.g. PHCN, Water and DSTV)
1.4 VISION, MISSION AND ESSENCE
Vision: “To be the clear leader and Nigeria’s bank of first choice”
Mission: “To remain true to our name by providing the best financial services possible”
Essence: The DNA of the FirstBank brand lies in its strength, size and dependability, typified by its brand icon, the African Elephant. Our brand essence is therefore Dependably Dynamic which is a holistic representation of our past, present and the future of FirstBank.
1.5 CORE VALUES
The core values of FirstBank are coined in an acronym for quick recall and living by the guiding principle – TELL& SPIC
Team Work – Everyday a better way, the team spirit is embedded in our culture as the best possible way to work.
Ethics – The good will of the bank is to be maintained as you deal with both internal and external customers, ensuring that the client leaves your office satisfied.
Loyalty – the essence of brand name and its very existence evolves in loyalty to our customers, Firstbank has been in existence for generations and loyalty to our customers is what makes us tick.
Superior Performance – To strengthen the bank’s brand, leverage and upscale the customers’ experience through delivery of excellent services.
Professionalism – To revolutionize the Bank’s operations in line with the dynamics of the operating environment while ensuring that we provide the best financial services unmatched.
Integrity – Adopt high ethical values to guide the conduct of all banking business and transactions in conformity with all relevant regulatory requirements.
Customer Centricity – The customer is the king and the reason we are in business, their demands should be met in line with bank’s policy
1.6 OUR BRAND PILLARS
LEADERSHIP – Our statusability as truly the 1st and No1
SAFETY&SECURITY- Security of fundsInvestments, job security, Integrity.
ENTERPRISE – Resourcefulness, Tenacity
SERVICE EXCELLENCE – Efficiency, Performance focused, Reliability, Accessibility
This chapter focuses on goal setting, study plan, expected difficulties to be encountered in data collection and plan to overcome these challenges.
2.1 OBJECTIVE OF THE ORGANISATIONAL ANALYSIS
The objective of the organizational analysis is to specifically examine the current state of the Bank’s operational and structural framework, analyse the functional units and the interface relations and also recommend ways of improving the interface relations.
2.2 GOAL SETTING
Goals setting involves establishing specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-framed (S.M.A.R.T ) target by an individual or organization. Goal focuses attention towards goal-relevant activities, revealing the objectives and strategies in which the goals can be met. Figure 1 below is the structured project plan for the organisational analysis.
Review of BSN course material
Draft Report Review
Sub-set meeting Review
Draft submission to set adviser
Correction and final submission
Figure 2: Project Plan
2.3 PROJECT PLAN
Reviewing of the BSN course materials and EBSCO database to understand theory on organisational structures, data collection method and research report writing style.
The internet (Google search and Wikipedia) comes in very handy in enhancing project plan.
The objective of the data collection stage of the project is to gather relevant and accurate information, to obtain the participation and co-operation of the appropriate target population and to facilitate the collection and analysis of data. The targeted populations are staff of the functional units, staff of hub branches, heads of the functional units (department) and some strategic business units and staff of Human Capital Management- Head Office. The medium to achieve this includes- Informal Interviews, telephone survey, one-on-one chats with some members of the targeted population e.g. the heads of departments and staff of the Human Capital management because of their exigent duties. All perceived sensitive questions would be handled through interviews (which are not formal) and not written questionnaires.
The FirstBank Intranet and internet website will be used extensively to gather information on functional units and organizational structure while personal visits to the Head Office and hub branches will be utilized to objectively gather information on functions of various departments, interface relations and recommendations for improvement of the interface relations.
Data compilation stage will include analyzing data collected and reviewing information from subset meetings and research report writing.
Report writing stage would involve applying the reviewed data gained from the various materials and extraction of relevant information from FIRSTBANK intranet and periodic publications. Data structuring and report preparation will also be done at this stage.
Reviewed responses from telephone calls and outcomes of informal interviews
Discussed challenges with Set Advisor at subset meeting and via phone calls.
Update and revised document with necessary corrections.
2.4 DIFFICULTIES TO BE ENCOUNTERED IN DATA COLLECTION
Questionnaires could not be used because of the bank’s policy on bulk mails or questionnaires related to work and business environment hence adequate data collection seemed impossible.
Network challenges when accessing both the internet and the Bank’s intranet.
Time constraint and the busy schedule of visited staff will also be a limitation.
Insufficient time due to researcher’s official duties.
2.5 PLAN TO OVERCOME THESE DIFFICULTIES
All perceived sensitive questions would be handled through interviews and not written questionnaires.
Extra hours to be dedicated for accessing the Bank’s intranet while a substitute internet modem was purchased to curb congestion or delays on web hosts.
Personal interviews will be conducted for staff with busy schedule, telephone calls and communication chat applications were also utilized for other staff
Ensure proper time management.
3.0 ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE AND CULTURE
This chapter focuses on the theories of organisational structure and organisational culture.
3.1 ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE
Organisations exist to achieve goals; these goals are broken down into tasks as the basis for jobs.
The term organisational structure therefore refers to the formal configuration between individuals and groups regarding the allocation of tasks, responsibilities, and authority within the organization (Galbraith, 1987; Greenberg, 2011). Said differently, – The framework, typically hierarchical, within which an organization arranges its lines of authority and communications, and allocates rights and duties. Organizational structure determines the manner and extent to which roles, power, and responsibilities are delegated, controlled, and coordinated, and how information flows between levels of management. (Business Dictionary-Google).
The structure of the organization can be defined simply as the sum total of ways in which its labour is divided into distinct tasks and the its coordination is achieved among these tasks /(Mintzberg 1983a)
Very early organizational structures were often based either on product or function (Oliveira & Takahashi, 2012). Others moved beyond these early approaches and examined the relationship between organizational strategy and structure (Brickley, Smith, Zimmerman, & Willett, 2002).
This approach began with the landmark work of Alfred Chandler (1962, 2003), who traced the historical development of some companies, He concluded from his study that an organization’s strategy tends to influence its structure. He suggests that strategy indirectly determines such variables as the organization’s tasks technology, and environments, and each of these influences the structure of the organization.
More recently, social scientists have augmented Chandler’s thesis by contending that an organization’s strategy determines its environment, technology, and tasks. These variables, coupled with growth rates and power distribution, affect organisational structure. The Organisational structure as argued by Alfred Chandler can be seen in FIRSTBANK structure which was changed recently to suit the Bank’s intended strategy. The Bank in Oct 2010 had embarked on a re-structuring of its entire operational system and workforce, we can therefore deduce that Strategy determines organizational structure.
A critical review of Mintzberg definition shows that it is not against the aforementioned,’ the design of every superstructure ends up as a compromise between the ‘objective’ factors of work flow, process and scale interdependency, and the subjective factors of personality and social need. Organisations may be conceived on paper, but they must function with flesh-and-blood human beings.’ (Mintzberg, 1983). Hence for a critical analysis of FirstBank OA, the Mintzberg theory will be adopted.
3.1.1 ORGANISATIONAL CONFIGURATION
Mintzberg claims that organisations are composed of five basic elements, or groups of individuals, any of which may predominate in an organisation. The design parameters determine individual positions (examples will be shown using FirstBank configuration)
Operating Core: Staff or employees who perform the basic work related to an organisation’s product or service e.g.- Tellers, Customer Service Officer, Foreign Operations Staff
Strategic Apex: Top-Management responsible for running an entire organisation. The Executive Directors and Executive Vice President of the bank sit at the Strategic Apex
Middle Line: Managers who stand in a direct line relationship between the strategic apex and the operating core. They include the Group Heads, Regional&Area Office Managers.
Techno structure: Organisational specialists responsible for standardising various aspects of
an organisation’s activities eg- Internal Control and Audit, Compliance, Credit Risk Management(CRM) AND MANCO
Support Staff: Individuals who provide support to an organisation outside its operating workflow.(I.T support, Security personnels)
Mintzberg identified five organisational configurations, they however depend some contingency factors which include – Age of the organization, Size’ Technical System, Environment and Power factors:
ƒ˜ Simple Structure is characterized by loose division of labor, relies on direct supervision and finds its key part at the strategic apex
ƒ˜ Machine Bureaucracy which relies on standardisation of work process, relatively centralized
power for decision making; with its key part in the techno structure where the planners of the organisation reside.
Professional Bureaucracy which deals with standardisation of skills and has the operating core as its key part.
Divisionalised form -each division has its own structure, it centers on standardisation of outputs. Autonomous units are created to deal with entire product lines, allowing top management to focus on large-scale, strategic decision. The middle line is key part of the organisation.
Adhocracy, a highly informal, strong presence of mutual adjustment, organic organisation in which specialists work in teams, coordinating with each other on various projects.
FIRSTBANK’S structure like most large corporations is characterized by the divisionalised form of Mintzberg’s configuration as various divisions (departments) are created by their product lines or end
products. The techno structure is located at Head Office to provide services to all divisions; support staffs are located within each division like we have the IT support for each area and marketing assistants who are support staff assigned to each branch. Most of the operational activities are conducted by the middle line managers, department heads or unit heads and they all operate with some form of independence and centralization within their units. They coordinate the output, acting between the strategic apex and the operating core. They also oversee the activities of the operating core and are expected to report back to strategic apex.
The typical operational structure in a FIRSTBANK branch is divided into two divisions-
i. The Operations Unit who are in charge of the everyday running of branch and attending to customer’s demand. The head of this unit is called The Branch Operations Manager.
ii. The Retail or marketing unit who are in charge of increasing the market size and credit portfolio of the branch. The Business Manager heads this unit of the branch.
Each of these units runs independently of each other with separate reporting lines even though they are situated in the same complex ant they form part of the whole group.
Given the Bank’s ever evolving strategy in line with changes in market dynamics and technological advancement, the structure design is determined by the strategic planning and corporate transformation unit through the HCM department, stating unit and individual key responsibilities and the reporting lines. The final structure is then approved by the strategic apex and the statutory regulatory authority (Central Bank of Nigeria). Usually the bank makes the policies available on its local INTRANET and other periodic publications or circulars as organisational changes are initiated.
3.1.2 ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE – EFFECTIVENESS & EFFICIENCY
Effectiveness of a system is about doing the right things. It’s about producing the intended or expected result, In measuring organisational effectiveness, the relevant question would be: is the organisational system doing the right thing for its survival?, is it focusing its drive on opportunities to produce revenue? Is it producing the output it needs if it is to survive? Efficiency of a system, on the other hand is about the inputs the system uses in order to produce outputs that is doing things right, accomplishing your tasks with a minimum of time and resource, It centers on performance and cost reduction. To thoroughly examine organizational success, both measures should be considered because productivity is a function of inputs to outputs which is the theme of efficiency and effectiveness. Efficiency should always be the servant of effectiveness.(BSN Phase 1, module IX, p 575)
Looking at the Bank’s history and evolutions, one can boldly say that FIRSTBANK has achieved some level of efficiency and effectiveness. The total assets of the Bank as at Dec 2011 as published
equals N,2463,543, total equity was N373,572 while the total Customer Deposits was N1,783,777,(figures are in millions).however there is room and need for improvement, the Bank lacks behind in mobilization of current account deposits and booking of credit facilities. These lapses deny the bank of some benefits which include increase in customer base and collection of float income from these deposits.
The FIRST Instant savings account was introduced by the Bank to bridge this gap on deposit mobilization, this product however has not recorded much success because of the strict requirements, the deployment of FINACLE 10 Banking solution which is scheduled to kick off this year July is an Efficiency measure in order to reduce turnaround time, this I believe is coming rather too late.
The strategic Apex of the Bank needs to review these points afore mentioned and reach a favorable conclusion so that the Bank can edge forward.
3.1.3 DESIGN PARAMETERS
Mintzberg identified nine design parameters. By using these parameters the organisational designer can influence the way individuals are positioned in the organisation and the way groups or departments are formed. The design parameters are Job specialisation; Behavior formation; Training and indoctrination; Unit grouping; size; Planning and control systems; Liaison devices; Vertical and horizontal decentralization. The design parameters predominant in FIRSTBANK are:
Job Specialisation: In FIRSTBANK, all job titles are specified, the roles to be performed, the job description, key competences and reporting lines are well explained for staff to understand. Job Specification for each job title is easily accessible on the intranet, it is the bank’s believe that job specialization increases employee productivity.
ƒ˜ Training and indoctrination: In order to carry out task, employees need to possess particular skills and knowledge.(BSN Phase 1 Course Notes, pg 584). In FirstBank it’s a trend to continuously train staff on a need to know and improvement basis, this exercise forms part of appraisal marks to be awarded during year end performance rating. The heads of branches or departments recommend staff for training if a knowledge gap or improvement need is identified. Educational and career advancement is also encouraged.
The Human Capital Management &Development anchors this aspect of the bank. Given the ever increasing need for the aforementioned, the Bank has rebranded its HCMD training arm to be called FIRST ACADEMY. The essence is to inculcate the bank’s values, ensuring that their staffs are well grounded and ever ahead of industry trends. Indoctrination are done upon recruitment of staff be it new or experienced hirees in order to imbibe the bank’s culture and values into them.
The unit grouping is an important design parameter in FIRSTBANK because it creates a system of supervision in which there is a reporting line, departmental, unit or group head for all strategic units of the bank, this encourages standardization of outputs. Firstbank adopts functional grouping
Vertical decentralisation: Mintzberg (1983a, p.99) defines vertical decentralisation as the “dispersal of formal power down the chain of line authority’. FISTBANK adopts limited vertical decentralization. Heads of departments/units are delegated the power to control most of the decisions concerning their line units and such decisions are cascaded down to their subordinates, however they have their reporting lines and various limits.
3.2 ORGANISATIONAL CULTURE
Culture refers to the underlying values, beliefs and codes of practice that makes an organisation what
It is. The customs of an organisation, the self image of its members, the things that make it different from others are its culture. Culture is symbolic; Culture is unifying and refers to the processes that bind the organization together. Culture is rooted deep in unconscious sources but is represented in superficial practices and behavior codes.
Deal and Kennedy (1982) argue that culture is the single most important factor accounting for success or failure in organizations. They identified four key dimensions of culture:
Values – the beliefs that lie at the heart of the corporate culture.
Heroes – the people who embody values.
Rites and rituals – routines of interaction that have strong symbolic qualities.
The culture network – the informal communication system or hidden hierarchy of power in the organization.
Peters and Waterman (1982) suggest a psychological theory of the link between organizational culture and business performance. Culture can be looked upon as a reward of work; we sacrifice much to the organization and culture is a form of return on effort.
Schein (1992) says that organisational culture is developed over time as people in the organisation learn to deal successfully with problems of external adaptation and internal integration. It becomes the common language and the common background. Employee values are measured against organizational values to predict employee intentions to stay, and predict turnover. This is done through instrument like Organizational Culture Profile (OCP) to measure employee commitment (O’Reilly, Chatman&Caldwell 1991).
However Daniel Denison’s model (1990) asserts that organizational culture can be described by four general dimensions:
Mission – Strategic Direction and Intent, Goals and Objectives and Vision
Adaptability – Creating Change, Customer Focus and Organizational Learning
Involvement – Empowerment, Team Orientation and Capability Development
Consistency – Core Values, Agreement, Coordination/Integration
Denison’s model also allows cultures to be described broadly as externally or internally focused as well as flexible versus stable. The model has been typically used to diagnose cultural problems in organizations.
3.2.1 FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE ORGANISATION’S CULTURE (FIRSTBANK)
According to Schein (1992), the two main reasons why cultures develop in organizations is due to external adaptation and internal integration. External adaptation reflects an evolutionary approach to organizational culture and suggests that cultures develop and persist because they help an organization to survive and flourish. If the culture is valuable, then it holds the potential for generating sustained competitive advantages. Additionally, internal integration is an important function since social structures are required for organizations to exist. Organizational practices are learned through socialization at the workplace. Work environments reinforce culture on a daily basis by encouraging employees to exercise cultural values. Organisational culture is shaped by multiple factors, including the following:
Size and nature of the organization’s workforce
Technologies the organization uses
The organization’s history and ownership
The external environment to FirstBank includes the ever emerging competitors, the realization of this pushes the Bank’s management is forge ahead and be innovative. The increasing number of banks offering same products that Firstbank had exclusivity to buttress this point, exceptional service delivery and brand value/positioning are the keys to have an edge over others. Other aspects of FirstBank’s external environment include the legal or statutory regulations which the Bank must conform with, the political, socio-economic dynamics of Nigeria.
The workforce of the bank is considerably large in comparism to other banks being the bank with the largest number of branch network and emerging diaspora banking through its subsidiaries. Prior to the rebranding of the Bank’s workforce, 1stBank had a culture of mostly old staff and few young staff, in
2008 the bank retrenched over 900 staff especially those who had spent over 25 years in service, the management immediately embarked on recruitment of new and experienced hirees who were relatively young, in addition to this, salaries were increased to suit the modern banker status. A new culture in that aspect had been achieved as 1stbankers were no longer distinguished by long suits and old staff.
3.2.2 FIRSTBANK CULTURE
FIRSTBANK possesses a strong culture which is continually being improved. In the light of Daniel Denison’s model of culture dimensions, FirstBank’s mission strategic direction, goals and objectives, are clearly understood by members of staff. The Bank strives to make its staff live by its core values and this has so far helped the bank in terms of durability and goodwill. For the importance of the afore mentioned, FirstBank carries periodic mystery shopping exercise and branch spot checks to ensure that we live what we preach, hence staff are enjoined to move with the train.
FirstBank adapts quickly to industry changes and are quick to identify a market opportunity hence they are most often the fore most bank for some products or innovations in the banking industry. It’s the bank policy for staff to stick to a particular dress code, have the bank’s premises painted in a particular way and colour, have a products and services delivered to customers with the brand name “FIRST” and a unique way of service delivery. All this distinguishes the Bank and a Firstbanker from every other bank or person. The Elephant is also a historic symbol of FirstBank’s culture which represents stability and strength, like Peters and Waterman (1982) suggests, the strong culture of the bank has positively enhanced its good will and market share, however things can get better.
There exist an area of improvement in the Bank’s culture as it is normally being discussed within its members that staff are not been sufficiently motivated, the slow promotion process is a major aspect of this.
A review of the Bank’s choice to downsize its work force recently by way of retiring (and firing) staff (although with mouth watering incentives) buttresses this point. Firing on the base of culture
Usually pointed as a source of creating “family like” environment, the notion of corporate culture is also used for firing, with this practice started from shoe company Zappos, which granted its fired employees with huge compensations afterwards.(Google- Wikipedia .As the corporate culture may mean almost everything, firing on the base of culture means the employer does not accept and desire to be inclusive for the culture of the employee and thus the employee “does not fit in corporate culture”, although this may fall in the ground of discrimination, there is still not law or case law resolving or addressing the question making this practice possible and available for businesses for now. Firing on corporate culture is a recent practice, from 2008.
3.2.3 CULTURAL TYPES
Handy (1985) identified four(4) types of organizational culture and they include:
Power culture: Entrepreneurial in nature, central control, quick to response, built on trust flexible.
Role culture: Roles are more important than persons, functional, rule and procedure driven
Task Culture: Cross functional, based on jobs and projects, networked, coordination&combination of jobs around tasks.
Person Culture: People are the central focus, controls are only possible where members agree.
FIRSTBANK adopts the role culture, this is because the roles are seen before the persons behind it, and the workforce is also driven by rule (policies) and procedure.
3.2.4 THE PROCESSUAL APPROACH
The processual approach is a translation model in which movements of ideas or objects reside in the sense maki
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