Fidelis Turay is the Managing Director of Sierra Leone Commercial Bank. In this interview with Abubakar Hashim, he explains what makes the financial institution customers’ choice
Since you were appointed Managing Director, the bank has been undergoing tremendous reforms along a trajectory of growth. Can you shed more light on the journey so far in relation to this growth?
Agreed, there has been tremendous growth since 2018 especially in the customer base, deposit liability and assets. Furthermore, the drive to extend financial services to the unbanked and underserved has been phenomenal. We have witnessed a steady and uninterrupted growth in the number of customers and deposits as a result of the introduction of the Mi Yone SLCB products which ensured that the people have easy access to financial services stress free.
The reforms being undertaken by the bank are visible and outstanding. The launching of the Mi Yone Mobile App is a pointer to the accessibility and availability of basic banking services in the comfort of the home, office or business place. The digital age has brought about a major paradigm shift in the way banking is done. Gone are the days of armchair banking. For the past two years, we continue to grow as we make indelible footprints in the financial landscape in Sierra Leone.
Recently, the Mi Yone SLCB Visa Card was launched to afford customers the opportunity to buy online and from Visa enabled POS worldwide. You can also use our visa card to withdraw from other bank’s ATM globally.
What are your challenges, particularly in an economy that is consumer-oriented and tax driven as currently the only major source of income to the government?
Consumer oriented and tax driven economy such as ours suggests an economy that shifts away from exports and investments. The government is making significant strides in ensuring export is encouraged through related departments. As a bank, we target agrobased businesses and recently increased our foothold in the mining industry to ensure we secure sufficient foreign exchange to meet our customers’ needs.
In terms of challenges as a bank, steps are on track to review the business strategy to meet these challenges and retain our status quo as the leading bank. High tax on the other hand, may be counterproductive and can lead to loss of revenue to the state. That notwithstanding, our interventions in the local industries have been immense over the years as they continue to grow and create employment among other development strides.
SLCB recently celebrated its 47th anniversary. Today the bank is the leader in terms of assets and turnover. Explain this position and how it will be sustained.
Yes we celebrated our 47th anniversary as a bank for which we are proud of being the “ Peoples Bank” and also being the market leader in many forms. This is no mean achievement considering the trying times we have been through as a nation yet we have been able to weather the storm and to emerge as leader in the industry.
The Bank has introduced new digital products to cater for the banking needs of the unbanked segment of the society. The Bank recently launched Mi Yone SLCB Visa Debit Card and other digital products to increase its touch points and accessibility to the largest customer base in the banking industry in Sierra Leone. These product lines are expected to solidly boost non-funded income lines of the business and provide customer-centric services wherever the Bank is accessed
How do you see the immediate and foreseeable future of SLCB?
For me, the immediate and future of the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank is overwhelmingly bright for the underlying reasons:
• We are abreast with technology in terms of the latest banking digital products making financial inclusion a reality for the unbanked,
• We can boast of a well-trained and highly motivated human resource with the zest and ability to drive the bank forward,
• Our customer service staff are among the best in the industry, trained to deliver timely and quality service in a friendly manner and
• Our corporate strategy is top of the notch that can deliver now and in the foreseeable futur