FirstBank: a Legacy Brand Sustained by Innovation


The premier financial institution and iconic banking brand, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, will turn 125 years on March 31. Recently, the bank held its symbolic ceremony of flag hoisting across Nigeria and other countries where it has branches. CHIMA NWOKOJI examines the secret behind this longevity and how the bank has contributed to economic development.

Founded in 1894 as The Bank for British West Africa, FBN Group’s FirstBank was the very first banking institution to be established in Nigeria.

First Bank of Nigeria Limited commercial banking group later became a principal subsidiary of FBN Holdings Plc.

FBN Holdings Plc was incorporated in Nigeria on 14 October 2010, following the business reorganisation of the First Bank group into a holding company structure. The company was listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange under the ‘Other Financial services’ sector on 26 November 2012.

By attaining the milestone year of 125, Nigeria’s financial giant has reinforced the idea that it has continued to apply better solutions that meets the needs of every succeeding generation. It has continued to find new strength in innovation and excellent succession planning as well as human capital development.

Stakeholders are convinced that the group’s continuous March to greatness exemplifies tenacity, doggedness, viability, socio-economic impact and commitment across the length and breadth of Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy.

The recent flag hoisting ceremony of the Bank was held in honour of its illustrious journey that encompasses more than half a dozen nations across Africa, Europe and Asia; notably Ghana, DR Congo, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, China,UK and France.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer Dr Adesola Kazeem Adeduntan gave clue as to how the lender is domesticating its innovative ideas.

“We are re-engineering our core IT infrastructure to improve overall service delivery levels across all key infrastructure parameters: speed, performance, availability, security and scalability. This will enable us to deliver great customer experiences, take advantage of new digital technologies to reduce costs, improve quality, ensure transparency, and create value. We are building the next-generation digital bank.”

It therefore follows that First Bank as a brand that has stood the test of time and weathered the storm, the financial institution has seen it through various socio-political and economic turbulence, including various governments, continuing to find new ideas that is compliant to both the present and future generations.

“It is in our DNA to continuously transform and project for the Future by reinventing ourselves, re-engineering and creating value for our Customers by rethinking next generation solutions ahead of our peers in the industry. We are positioned to always put our Customers current and future needs at the core of our business.”

PR1MUS is the Brand name for FirstBank’s new Enterprise Transformation program. In 2016, Adeduntan explained, the bank articulated an ambitious strategy to regain its position as undisputed industry leaders through profitable growth, leveraging technology to drive innovation.


The lender revealed that contributory to its longevity is Innovation, Technology and Services: Making banking more convenient to the 21st century sophisticated customers.

“Gone are the days of Tally-Numbers.” Service improvement and Channels optimisation is important to the bank today. It attained over 100 million e-banking transactions, first by any financial institution in Nigeria. The bank says it was the first to launch Finacle 10 banking software in Nigeria; First Mobile, mobile banking app; FirstOnline, internet banking; Firstmonie, mobile payment platform; WhatsApp Chat Banking and a digital Lab to incubate innovation and creativity in financial services delivery.These are attributes that help built-to-last firms.

A US based Family Business Consulting Group in its recent research confirmed that there are 5,000 companies in the world that are more than 200 years old. More than 3,000 are in Japan. Because these companies have provided a long secure base of jobs for the Japanese economy, the Bank of Korea undertook a study of them.

The aim was to learn lessons for Korea, as there are only three firms in that country older than 100. Lessons and facts from this study among others,

For the most part, they forbid the employment of in-laws. To quote the research paper, “their ultimate purpose of the company is not the profit, but its continuation.”

Through technology and digital banking influence, the bank was able to create a product for every demographic group, thereby ensuring continuous satisfaction of every customer segment.

By continuously attracting talented people, FBN Holdings Plc has benefited from diversified pool of talent. It is today the most diversified financial services group in Nigeria. The affiliates of FBN Holdings offer a broad range of products and services across commercial banking, investment banking, insurance and microfinance business. FBN Holdings, employing over 8,500 staff, has over 9 million customer accounts, through about 807 business locations and over 2,100 Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).

The FBN Holdings Group boasts of an excellent corporate governance structure underpinned by strong institutional processes, systems and controls. It is structured under four business groups, namely: Commercial Banking, Investment Banking and Asset Management, Insurance, and Other Financial Services.

Speaking at the unveiling of the bank’s refreshed corporate identity in 2014, the Head, Marketing and Corporate Communications, Folake Ani-Mumuney said that refreshing the FBN Group brand is a major milestone in a wider strategic plan to ensure that the group is more efficient and effective in delivering on the needs of its customers through its diversified base. “Our approach places the highest priority on the needs of our customers,” she stated.

PR1MUS is the Brand name for FirstBank’s new Enterprise Transformation program. It is the umbrella program that anchors the execution of all the initiatives in the bank’s 2017 to 2019 strategic plan aimed at optimal result delivery.


Focusing on First Bank as a Nigerian banking brand that has gone global, Ani-Mumuney explained that far more than a Logo, the new corporate identity has been designed to ensure that the FBN Group continues to be at the forefront of the African financial services industry. The Group is on a definitive mission to build a strong global presence in order to reinforce that leadership position whilst constantly striving to find better ways to service customers and drive growth.

Since launching in 1894, the FBN brand has established itself as a brand of strength and dynamism, with the vision to be the leading international financial services group in Sub Saharan Africa.

“Our brand is therefore on a definitive mission to create a strong global presence in order to reinforce our leadership as the leading Sub Saharan banking services group. We champion our brand to constantly strive to find a better way of driving our business forward, driven by our philosophy and people – our customers, our stakeholders, our employees,” Ani-Mumuney said.


At the unveiling of a refreshed corporate identity in January, 2014 FBN Holdings PLC, repositioned to reflect the company’s strategic direction and stand it to meet the future needs of the market. The refreshed identity was rolled out across the Group’s operations.

On how the bank carries out business in comparison to other long lasting institutions, Dr Adesola Adeduntan stated “We aren’t only focused on transforming the bank and reclaiming industry leadership position, we are also transforming the way we communicate and execute our corporate strategy – rethinking our approach to implementing projects, collaborating, measuring the outcomes and realising value from all of our transformation investments.

“The transformation program is ongoing, and a lot of employees are already fully involved at various levels, leading and contributing to these transformation initiatives.

Importantly, it is imperative you have FirstBank positively compared with the following legacy brands: JP Morgan Chase (founded in 1799); Colgate (founded in 1806); Citigroup (founded in 1812) and Banca Monte Parma founded in 1488.

Culled from Tribune  

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