Julian Kingsley Opuni was recently appointed new Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, taking over from Jim Baiden who retired as the MD of the bank in October this year.
Opuni is an experienced banker who started his banking career over 20 years ago. He brings to the role his rich industry experience having served as the Head of Commercial Banking and Divisional Director of Retail Banking of Fidelity Bank Ghana.
Speaking on his new role, Mr. Opuni said, “I am greatly humbled to be leading Fidelity Bank as we strive to be the best bank for our customers. I have a very capable and committed management team and employees and we will work hard to deliver value to all our customers and clients.”
Here is a Q&A with Julian Kingsley Opuni.
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 saleIn 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., make card limit requests, QR code to merchants,make internal transfer or transfer money to any mobile money wallet.