Herbert Wigwe: Maximizing excellence in banking, leadership

At the 2016 edition of the Business Day Annual Banking Awards, which held at the Eko Hotels, Lagos in September; Mr. Herbert Wigwe was honoured as the ‘Bank CEO of the Year’ while his bank, Access Bank Plc emerged the best bank in Nigeria for the year 2016.

Earlier in the year, Access Bank had won Euromoney’s ‘Best Bank Transformation Award’ in the Euromoney 2016 Awards for Excellence.

While accepting the award, Wigwe said he was delighted to receive the coveted award noting that it was in recognition of the huge elevation of Access Bank to the top three position of the Nigerian banking industry. He dedicated the award to the Bank’s staff for their contributions to the growth momentum and the seven million customers who have been instrumental to the Bank’s success.

After succeeding his business partner, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhede in January 2014, Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe took over the reins as CEO and Group managing director of Access Bank.

Born on August 15th 1966 in Lagos, Wigwe has a degree in Accountancy from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; an MA in Banking and Finance from the University College of North Wales (now Bangor), an MSc in Financial Economics from the University of London and is an Alumnus of the Harvard Business School Executive Management Programme.

His career in the financial services industry started at Coopers & Lybrand, Lagos where he worked as a management consultant, later qualifying as a Chartered Accountant. After a brief stint at Capital Bank, he joined GTBank where he spent over a decade working in corporate and institutional banking. He rose to become Executive Director in charge of institutional banking.

In 2002, Herbert and his business partner, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, saw a unique opportunity and grasped it, acquiring what was then a small commercial bank, Access Bank – at the time, the 65th largest of the 89 banks in the country.

Access Bank is now one of the top three banks in Nigeria and is ranked among the top 500 global banks according to a 2015 report by The Banker magazine. The bank aims to be Africa’s top bank. It currently serves about seven million individual and corporate account holders, through 350 branches and with more than 1,500 ATMs in major centres across Nigeria, Sub-Saharan Africa and the UK.

Since his assumption of position as Group Managing Director of Access Bank, Wigwe has motivated members of staff by setting up the Access Recreation Centre (ARC) which gives them a balanced lifestyle demonstrating that premium importance is placed on the mental and physical wellbeing of its human resources.

The centre, which has a state-of-the-art eating cafeteria for staff, a Standard Gym where staff are encouraged to carry out daily routines of exercise for no fee with the help of a gym instructor on hand for physical training and a Zumba instructor who takes dance fitness classes.

To further support its staff and family life, the bank under Wigwe has seen to the establishment of a crèche for staff members babies between the ages of three months old to one year.

Aside the social welfare plans, Access Bank invests a fortune on training and retraining its staff so as to increase knowledge base, maintain standard practice and also keep up with global business trend. In this regard, the bank has sustained its yearly scheme of middle management cadre training at the Wharton Business School, Pennsylvania, USA.

In 2015, the bank improved efficiency in driving profitability by a 38 percent increase in gross earnings, from N245.5 billion in 2014 to N337. 4 billion with Interest income and non-interest income contributing 62 percent and 38 percent, respectively to the gross earnings. Commendable performance was recorded in the non-interest income jumping by 89 percent to N129.450 billion from N68.429 billion.

Profit Before Tax (PBT) grew by 44 percent from N52 billion in 2014 to N75 in 2015 Profit After Tax (PAT) which was up 53 percent from N43.1 billion to N65.9 billion. Whilst Return On Average Equity (ROAE) improved from 16.5 percent in 2014 to 20.4 percent in FY 2015, indicative of the bank’s commitment to maximising shareholder returns.

Wigwe has helped develop some of Africa’s biggest companies in the construction, telecommunications, energy and oil and gas sectors through a unique model, which involves understanding and providing financial support and expertise. His career in financial services spans more than 25-years including over a decade as Deputy managing director.

The 50-year-old accountant also served as the Chairman of Access Bank Ghana Limited, Access Investment & Securities Limited, Central Securities and Clearing System (CSCS) and is the current Chairman of Access Bank (UK) Limited.

He is a board member of Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company and a member of the advisory Board for Friends Africa. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN – FCA), a Fellow of The Institute of Credit Administration, and an Honourary member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.

He is married to Chizoba Wigwe (née Nwuba) and has four children – Chizi, Tochi, Hannah and David.


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