Access Bank: Market positioning of a mega financial brand

By Oluwaseyi Lawal

Over the years, as technological advancement and innovation take a new shape in the Nigerian banking industry, it is crucial that every financial institution rise to the occasion and evolve with every innovation.

It is no surprise to see every bank in Nigeria vying for the top position in an industry where over 100 banks operate.

In the midst of this, Access bank has no doubt distinguished itself and outstandingly set itself apart from the pack. Acknowledging excellent customer service, technological advancement and community engagement, Access Bank has further strengthened its standing as an established brand in the world’s financial markets. Boasting of an impressive track record of accomplishments, strong management, and an absolute dedication to customer satisfaction, Access bank has stood and is still standing as an influential epitome of leadership in the global financial market.

Access Bank was issued a banking licence in December 1988 but it did not commence operations until May 11, 1989 at it’s Head Office on Burma Road, Apapa. March 22, 2024 made it 22 years since Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede and the late Herbert Wigwe, acquired a small, unremarkable bank and transformed it into one of the country’s largest lenders, with branches spanning Africa, Europe, and Asia. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede served in the capacity of the bank’s Managing Director and the late Herbert Wigwe as his Deputy. On the 28th of March 2022, Herbert Wigwe, took over as MD/CEO of Access Holdings Group and served until his demise. Prior to that, he had served in the capacity of the Deputy Managing Director from 2012 to 2014. Following his Demise, the company appointed Bolaji Agbede as Acting Group CEO.

In 2018, Access Bank announced its intention to merge with Diamond Bank and on April 1st 2019, Access Bank and Diamond Bank merger became official. With the release of its new logo, Access Bank announced the launch of an expanded banking organisation. Following the merger, Access Bank grew to have over 42 million customers, making it the biggest bank in Nigeria in terms of assets and the largest bank in Africa in terms of customer base. Today, Access Bank is one of the five largest banks in Nigeria in terms of assets, loans, deposits and branch network.

Access Bank’s position in the world’s financial sector has been cemented by its deliberate growth, mergers and acquisitions. The bank has operations in a number of nations in Asia, Europe, and Africa. In 2009, Access Bank Ghana was established. In 2019 Access Bank Rwanda was acquired. In 2020, Access Bank Zambia and Kenya were both acquired. In 2008, Access Bank UK was established. Between 2020 and 2021, Access Bank also acquired Banks in Mozambique, Congo, Sierra Leone, and South Africa. With the help of the aforementioned subsidiaries, Access Bank has been capable of providing easy banking products and services in a number of countries, expanding its market presence and worldwide reach.

Still on mergers and acquisitions, Access Bank recently completed the acquisition of African Banking Corporation of Tanzania (ABCT), thereby making it’s debut into the Tanzanian market. ABCT will also be merged with the consumer, private, and banking divisions of Standard Chartered Bank Tanzania, which Access Bank is currently in the process of acquiring. Following the merger, the combined entity will operate under the name Access Bank Tanzania.

In the line of first and rankings, Access Bank Numerous honours and accomplishments throughout it’s history is a proof of the bank’s influence in the financial industry. Recently, Access was ranked as Nigeria’s most valuable brand by Brand Finance, a prominent brand valuation consultancy, establishing the bank as Nigeria’s leading banking brand. This is the third year in a row that Access Bank has maintained its number one position in Brand Finance’s yearly ranking of the top 500 banking brands globally.

Access Bank was also recently recognized as the ‘Best Trade Partner Bank West Africa 2024’ by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) at the 2024 Global Trade Partners Meeting (GTPM) in Barcelona, Spain. This award is a testament of Access Bank’s exceptional performance and dedication to promoting trade finance throughout the continent.

In 2023 alone, among other awards, Access Bank was awarded as the Best SME Bank for Women Entrepreneurs in Africa, Best SME Bank, Best Retail Bank in Nigeria, Best Sustainable Banking Group, Africa, and the Most Sustainable Bank in Nigeria. In 2021, it was ranked as the No. 1 Safest Bank in Nigeria and the No. 1 Financial Sector Leader in Sustainability. These honours are a testament to Access Bank’s dedication to setting the highest benchmarks in corporate social responsibility, technological advancement, and in providing excellent service.

Access Bank offers a comprehensive range of financial products and services designed to meet the diverse needs of its customers. These are but not limited to Retail Banking which includes savings and current accounts, personal loans, credit cards, and mortgage services, Corporate Banking which includes trade finance, cash management, treasury services, and corporate loans and Digital Banking which comprises of cutting-edge mobile and internet banking platforms, digital wallets, and fintech solutions. They also offer Wealth Management which has to do with Investment advisory, asset management, and private banking services and lastly SME Banking, (Specialized products and services to support small and medium-sized enterprises).

Well-known and recognized for its extensive corporate social responsibility programmes, Access Bank prioritises ecological sustainability, healthcare, and education. Prominent initiatives consist of the Access Bank Womenpreneur Pitch-a-ton Africa which is an annual initiative supporting female entrepreneurs across Africa with training, mentoring, and grants, Maternal Health Service Support (MHSS); a program aimed at reducing maternal and infant mortality rates in Nigeria and the Green Campus Initiative which is aimed at promoting environmental sustainability through tree planting and waste management programs. Access Bank is currently running the Project 111; A three year fibroid health initiative hinged on the tenets of education, advocacy, infrastructural development and access to care.

Access Bank’s dedication to achieving customer fulfilment is demonstrated by its customer-first philosophy and tailored solutions. The bank consistently allocates resources towards employee training and development initiatives, guaranteeing that its personnel possess the aptitude and expertise to provide outstanding customer care.

Access Bank’s incredible transformation from a small regional institution to a major player in the international banking sector is evidence of its strategic acumen, inventive energy, and constant dedication to quality. In the coming years, Access Bank is bound to continue on its path of success, leading the way in the financial sector and promoting economic expansion and growth worldwide.


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