Polaris Bank ups the game, gains customers’ confidence

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The initial upsurge in the number of panic-stricken depositors and customers in the defunct Skye Bank Plc has given way to stronger confidence and loyalty. Most of the customers and depositors in Skye Bank, which gave birth to Polaris Bank, following the recent revocation of the operating licence of the former by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) visited branches of Polaris Bank nationwide to ascertain the status of their deposits or to simply clear their accounts.

But, their panic, has fizzled out after they realised that the board and management of the newly-recapitalised bank had put their hands in the plough to stabilise the bank and restore customers’ confidence. The result is that today, no depositor or customer has complained about going to any branch of Polaris Bank without being able to withdraw money or transact other businesses.

This is despite the few initial negative commentaries that trailed CBN’s action. For instance, one open position held by critics of the intervention of the CBN, was that the apex bank, alongside other regulators including the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) and Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) were only putting in place ‘cosmetic show’. Such critics had intoned that depositors in the now rested Skye bank Plc, notwithstanding the take-over by Polaris Bank, will likely suffer the same fate as Savannah Bank, Societe Generale and African Continental Bank, where customers lost all their deposits.

But in what may have proved critics wrong, while also demonstrating the impressive capacity of the Board, management and staff of Polaris to steady the ship of the bank and stabilise its operations, all manners of transactions are now seamless and effortless.

The establishment of Polaris Bank as a bridge bank to take over assets and liabilities of defunct Skye Bank Plc was said to have saved Nigeria contagious risks that could have led to disruptions in the financial system and loss of more than 6,000 jobs.

The NDIC explained that it decided on the bridge bank option because it was the most effective and efficient way to resolve the Skye Bank crisis without much loss to the financial system and the economy generally.

The NDIC boss said the adoption of the bridge bank as the resolution option of the defunct Skye Bank saved 6000 jobs and ensured continuity of banking services in the 300 branches of the defunct bank.

These obvious benefits are not lost on the MD/CEO of Polaris Bank, Tokunbo Abiru, which was why, under his watch, the bank’s management rolled out a number of strategic actions to protect depositors and also position the bank for the future.

Some of the proactive measures include stabilising the institution, entrenching sound corporate governance and risk management practices, and restoration of depositors’ confidence.

Speaking to the press in Lagos, Abiru said: “Our major achievement was being able to stabilise the bank. You will recall that when the intervention was done in July 2018, there was a major run on the bank’s operation. Part of what we have been able to do is to find a way to stabilise the bank.”

He, therefore, reassured stakeholders, particularly depositors and customers, that their accounts have been automatically migrated from the defunct Skye Bank to Polaris Bank. “Polaris is a well-capitalised bank, which makes it a solid bank in terms of good corporate governance and value. It also has a very strong backing of the regulators like CBN and NDIC.’’

The management of the bank, which took over in July 2018 after the CBN removed the former Board of Directors and management for various indiscretions, and which the apex bank retained for its performance, have been proactive in boosting depositor’s confidence and sound health of the new bank.

Yet, the evolution of Polaris Bank is not just for the safety of customers’ funds, but also for digital innovation, value reorientation, better customer experience, and strategic investment in human capital development of the entire architecture of the bank.

For instance, the new Abiru-led management recently graduated 61 new employees who were trained at the Polaris Business School, Ibadan, Oyo State.

Speaking at the occasion, Abiru said: “What we see in the future is a bank that, in the next three to five years, is one of the first five banks in Nigeria; a full-fledged retail bank with strong digital backing. So, our stakeholders will get more of enhanced values, which are clearly different from the bank of the past.”

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