As one of the leading payroll lenders, Bayport Savings and Loans has seen it all in the Ghanaian financial sector. For sixteen years it has revolutionized the payroll lending space by maintaining its number one position, merged with its sister company CFC Savings and Loans and has survived the recent financial sector cleanup which saw 23 of its colleagues fall.
The company recently restructured its board that saw three board members retire and replaced with new members to oversee the business’ transformational agenda.
Bayport has appointed a new Board Chairman, Francis Wood, who is an astute investment banking professional with decades of experience in leadership and professional qualifications in finance and architecture.With a full approval from the Bank of Ghana, Francis Wood took over as substantive chairman from Kwame Pianim in September 2019.
He forms a part of the current five (5) board of directors of Bayport Savings & Loans.
The five members of the board are Francis Wood – Board Chairman (Independent Non-Executive Director), Sandro Rtveladze (Non-Executive Director), Nii Amankra Tetteh (Executive Director-Managing Director), David K. T. Adomakoh(Non-Executive Director) and Bryan Arlow (Non-Executive Director). These new but astute business leaders can’t wait to take the company to the next level.
Speaking to the press in an exclusive interview, Mr. Wood had a lot to say about rebuilding confidence in the banking sector that cannot easily be shaken.
“Every player in the banking and finance sector must contribute its quota, with significant leadership from the Central Bank, in rebuilding and regaining the trust and confidence of customers and the economy at large” Francis Wood, Bayport Savings and Loans’ new board chairman, has said.
“Every economy, marketplace or industry is different from country to country and it is only players who have been in that space who have the most expertise, experience and are market savvy. To me, taking all theory into account, I think these players ought to be coming together perhaps more frequently and exchanging concrete and specific ideas that can be made public and come out in some kind of paper or document that go into the banking regulation cycle.
That is one way that the customer or marketplace will begin to see that the powers, authorities and players are taking this issue of building trust and confidence very seriously when it comes to the banking and finance sector,” he said.
Mr. Woodbelieves that a more conscientious, collaborative and concerted Communication Plan is critical in restoring lost confidence in the sector and whilst much is expected of the Regulator, stakeholders in the sector cannot afford to wait; we must be proactive;so a more periodic conference among the CEOs or leadership of these institutions needs to happen.
Since the completion of reforms in the banks and special deposit-taking industry by the Central Bank which saw the revocation of almost 400 licenses, and the expenditure of almost GH¢20billion to safeguard depositors, many Ghanaians have lost confidence in the sector and are unwilling to access financial products and services which is having adverse effects on the bottom-line of banks, finance houses, savings and loans and microfinance companies.
Several institutions such as the Ghana Association of Savings & Loans Companies as well Association of Bankers, Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIB) Ghana, the Central Bank and other stakeholders in the special deposit-taking sector are trying to fashion out a way forward to regaining the trust of the public but that is happening at a rather slower than expected pace.
“The leadership of these institutions should be getting together with leadership of the Central Bank. There is the need for a concerted agendato rebuild trust and confidence. You cannot fast track or rebuild confidence in the banking and financial sector quickly;there are some situations in which we all must understand that fast tracking is almost not an option.
We are all players in the system including providers of services of products, consumers, agents and lawyers and so I will say that understanding psychology, mindset of customers in the sector and improving communication flow amongst players in the system is crucial because each of the players in the system have different psychologies as a function of their specific space,” he added.
How did Bayport survive the purge?
When asked how Bayport was able to withstand the stress in the system, stay afloat and survive the reforms, Mr. Wood explained that the company just stuck to its core competence of payroll lending, astute corporate governance structures, building experience overtime, utilizing technology efficiently and improving our engagement with customers.
“Our secret is that we have run a business overtime that has stuck to its knitting. Bayport is a business that is over 90percent payroll lending, we know the payroll lending business very well and we have improved our services, internal structures, the application of technology and steadily improving the customer interface through IT.
Therefore in, “sticking to our knitting” we have built experience and expertise step by step. What we have done best is undertake steady improvements overtime. If you look at our financials, you would see that our topline growth is a testament to that,” he said.
He added that Bayport has a strong foundation; in its board and continues to have a strong management and executive team, and the company, under his tenure, would continue to work to harmonise the board, management and executive teams. “The leadership structure at Bayport in Ghana is very strong. I think a combination of those things have helped safeguard us.
Also, corporate governance at Bayport is extremely strong. Some of the things that convey trust and confidence to the market are metrics like the growth of our topline and balance sheet, the fact that we have not defaulted on any borrowing in the market, i.e. bank to bank lending or customer deposit and others, have given us an unblemished scorecard.”