Of Clubs, Managers and our Nigerian Banks
By Yinka Ogunnubi
Not too long ago, I attended a management training course for senior managers in my organization. The facilitator was a consultant from Liverpool in the UK with a CV as long as a rolled out toilet paper. Apart from the fact that he was going bald, there was nothing much striking about him save that if he was to shave his eyebrows, he will be the perfect body double for Jean-Luc Picard of the Star Trek series. One thing that was memorable for me though was his use of the game of football to teach us about the importance of management and strategy.
In explaining the different type of managers and management styles, he used the examples of 3 premiership clubs and their managers. The clubs / Managers he used where
- Arsene Wenger of Arsenal
- Jose Mourinho of Chelsea and
- Alex Ferguson of Manchester United
Wenger it was concluded was your erudite economist. Very professional, technical and calculative. He is the kind of guy any board will want at the helm of affairs in a period of scare financial resources to steer the ship and steady affairs. He is the kind of manager who was strong in training and building installed capacity. Given that personnel cost covers a significant part of operating expenses, Wenger is the kind of boss, who will ensure that the cost profile is brought within budget limits. He is the kind of manager that believes in “Organic Growth”.
Jose Mourinho on the other hand, is your super star CEO. Young, attractive, stylish and extremely successful. Managers of his very nature, they don’t stay too long in a place. But they stay long enough to achieve set-goals. He is super goal oriented and very focused on the final objective. To him, the end justifies the means. He is not your conventional manager, neither is he one willing to take risk either. He is just the kind of guy that gets things done. That means, breaking the budget if it means achieving that record goal of increasing market share.
Alex Ferguson is your classic old school manager. Highly influential in and out of the field. His influence goes beyond just the internal players but also to the regulators. He is the kind of guy that has been around long enough to influence things by the strength of his very presence. He is conventional but also a risk taker. He is highly professional and tactical in his approach. Not the best manager of resources but he sure gets the job done.
Very interesting analysis isn’t it? Now when preparing to write this piece, what really caught my fancy was how you can describe and analyze our banks in Nigeria along the lines of the different clubs in the EPL and their managers as well. It is remarkable but please follow me on this journey.
I chose to analyze 5 clubs namely: Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspurs, Southampton and of course Liverpool (no way am I going to leave them out).
My best description of Arsenal FC would be GTBank. A value based organization with a very attractive brand. Their logo and brand identity are very attractive just as the Arsenal’s crest and imageries. GTBank is a bank that is very conscious of their presentation which is why no two branch looks the same and also why in the earlier days you will enter their banking hall and see someone playing the piano. They appeal to a sense of class and taste. Gtbank is known for capacity building. It spends so much on training its staff and building their capacity. It believes in organic growth and is known to pay what it believes is the fair wage in the industry. Unfortunately, it has one of the worse staff turnover rate in the banking sector. Its staffs are very easily poached and head hunted by other banks. Is GTBank bothered by this high staff turnover, no it isn’t. It simply just employs another “Kid” (aka Fresh Graduate) who is then trained with millions of Naira, and in 4 years is available to be poached by another bank who offers more. GTBank is the Arsenal of the Nigerian Banking Sector.
For Chelsea, I chose no other than Zenith Bank. Extremely successful, huge balance sheet and very profitable. The bank cares less about aesthetics. All its branches look the same. A huge white square box. A 100 level Archi Student in the university can design their buildings. The focus is on the goal which basically is to be the best and be Number 1. Nothing else matters. If they need to poach a staff from anywhere, they do not hesitate no matter the cost. This principle is enshrined in the psyche of every Zenith Bank Staff that you wonder if they all went to the same school. To them success is everything and the end justifies the means. Zenith is the Chelsea of the Nigerian Banking Sector.
For Manchester United, I will pick First Bank. Very old but extremely reliable. Even with the influx of the new generation banks, they remain extremely successful and still relevant. In fact they are still the first in many respect. Their followership and customer base is very loyal and committed. They command respect among their peers (banks) and also with the Regulator. At some point in this country, they were credited with producing two of our former CBN Governors. Reliability is their watch word. If First Bank has your money, you can literarily go to bed knowing it is safe. They remain the Man U of the Nigerian Banking sector.
For Manchester City, I will go with UBA. Forever in the shadows of Manchester United (FBN). They are literally blocks apart in the location of their head offices and could be qualified as the true “Noisy neighbors”. UBA not too long ago was bought by a big money bag who set out to re-brand the bank and frame it into a world class organization. The bottom line was not really the issue, it was the brand and the prestige that can be made out of it. The bank has succeeded in making a name for itself in Nigeria and around Africa but it has not been able to shake off that toga of playing the second fiddle when it comes to comparison with their more illustrious neighbors.
Tottenham Hotspurs for me best describes Access Bank. London no doubt is Red and London no doubt belongs to Arsenal, but you can always trust the “White Hart” end of London to try to stake a claim. Access Bank we know grew out of GTBank. They try very much to model their banking culture along that of GTBank. They are one of the frequent poachers of GTBank talents. All in a bid to be better than them. As hard as they have tried, they have always remained in the shadows of GTBank and would probably remain so for a long time to come.
I am sure everyone would be wondering who Liverpool will be. Well, my choice would be Union Bank. It is not by mistake that Liverpool is sometime jokingly referred to as Loserpool. Big, Strong and Unreliable. Liverpool just like UBN belong in the old guard. The old generation. But among those top old generation banks, they are the only one that have come close to being liquidated. They are big alright, you could argue that they are strong, but reliable? Nah! When you think they might just be getting their acts together, they do a “Gerrard Slip” and everything (including the Kitchen Sink) comes crashing down. UBN to me is the Liverpool of the Nigerian Banking Sector.
Last but not the least is Southampton. My Choice for this would be SkyeBank. The new kid on the block. Determined to give the big boys a run for their money. They don’t get easily cowed but through their resilience, they have been able to edge out some of those that have come before them. Surely, it will take a while to reach the heights of the Gtbanks, but they have truly started off strong and making great progress.
So what do you think about my list? Do you agree or dis-agree with them. I will love to hear from you on what you think about them. You might as well want to do your own list and support it with why you feel your classification is closer to accurate than mine. Am sure at the end, we all will learn a thing or two about our Clubs, their managers and our banks.