Our History

Since 1894, FirstBank has built solid relationships, good corporate governance and strong liquidity.

Dynamic Evolution

First Bank of Nigeria Limited (“FirstBank”), established in 1894, is the premier Bank in West Africa, Nigeria’s number one bank brand and the leading financial services solutions provider in Nigeria.

The Bank was founded by Sir Alfred Jones, a shipping magnate from Liverpool, England. With its head office originally in Liverpool, the Bank commenced business on a modest scale in Lagos, Nigeria under the name, Bank of British West Africa (BBWA).

In 1912, the Bank acquired its first competitor, the Bank of Nigeria (previously called Anglo-African Bank) which was established in 1899 by the Royal Niger Company. In 1957, the Bank changed its name from Bank of British West Africa (BBWA) to Bank of West Africa (BWA). In 1966, following its merger with Standard Bank, UK, the Bank adopted the name Standard Bank of West Africa Limited and in 1969 it was incorporated locally as the Standard Bank of Nigeria Limited in line with the Companies Decree of 1968.

Changes in the name of the Bank also occurred in 1979 and 1991 to First Bank of Nigeria Limited and First Bank of Nigeria Plc, respectively. In 2012, the Bank changed its name again to FirstBank of Nigeria Limited as part of a restructuring resulting in FBN Holdings Plc (“FBN Holdings”), having detached its commercial business from other businesses in the FirstBank Group, in compliance with the new regulation by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

FirstBank had 1.3 million shareholders globally, was quoted on The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), where it was one of the most capitalised companies and also had an unlisted Global Depository Receipt (GDR) programme, all of which were transferred to its Holding Company, FBN Holdings, in December 2012.

Building on its solid foundation, the Bank has consistently broken new ground in the domestic financial sector for over a century and two decades. FirstBank is present in the United Kingdom and France through its subsidiary, FirstBank (UK) Limited with branches in London and Paris; and in Beijing with its Representative Offices there. In October 2011, the Bank acquired a new subsidiary, Banque International de Credit (BIC), one of the leading banks in the Democratic Republic of Congo now known as FirstBank DRC. In November 2013, FirstBank acquired ICB (now FirstBank) in The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Guinea, and in 2014, the Bank acquired ICB (now FirstBank) in Senegal. These were major landmarks in its plan for growing its sub-Saharan African footprints.

As the global operating environment evolves, FirstBank continues to keep pace, responding to the dynamic needs of its customers, investors, regulators, host communities, employees and other stakeholders. Through a balanced approach to plan execution, FirstBank has consolidated its industry leadership by maintaining transgenerational appeal. Thus, the Bank has continuously boosted its customer base, which cuts across all segments in terms of size, structure and sectors.

Leveraging experience spanning over a century of dependable services, FirstBank has continued to build relationships and alliances with key sectors of the economy that have served as strategic building blocks for the well-being, growth and development of the country. With its huge asset base and expansive branch network, as well as continuous reinvention, FirstBank is one of Nigeria’s strongest banking franchise, maintaining market leadership on all fronts in the nation’s financial services industry.

Growth Strategy and Expansive Reach

FirstBank is a well-diversified financial services group and one of the largest private-sector financial services provider in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa).

The Bank maintains the leading position in many of the markets in which it operates, market-leading distribution capability and a well-recognised brand with a large customer base.

With over 820 business locations in globally, all online and real-time, the Bank has one of the largest domestic sales networks in Africa. As a market leader in the financial services sector, FirstBank pioneered initiatives in international money transfer and electronic banking in Nigeria, serving more than 42 million customer accounts.

FirstBank’s strategy has been focused on restructuring the business to take advantage of growth opportunities within the industry, pursuing business line expansion across strategic business units, continuously implementing a systematic international expansion plan, sequencing its growth initiatives across defined metrics, as well as building synergies and cross-selling across the FirstBank Group. This strategy supports the Bank’s vision of being Africa’s bank of first choice. Continued implementation of this strategy will produce long-term profitable growth as well as build great franchises and deliver value to all stakeholders. The focus of the Bank in terms of international expansion remains the financial services markets in sub-Saharan Africa.

Our People

FirstBank's manpower development policy recognises the invaluable contribution that human resources make to the growth and development of countries.

As one of the leading private sector employers of graduate-level personnel in the country, FirstBank’s manpower development policy recognises the invaluable contribution that human resources make to the growth and development of countries successfully navigating from the third world to developed country status.  Consequently, its human capital management initiatives are geared towards providing necessary support to staff, departments and the various business drivers to enable the Bank to achieve its goals and objectives.

As the Bank grows its footprint locally and internationally, contributing positively to customers’ value chains, it hires personnel with the unique skill sets needed to fully leverage its operations. The Bank’s succession planning framework ensures perpetual business continuity. FirstBank continues to replenish its workforce, especially at strategically important levels of responsibility.

FirstBank boasts of a rich pool of resourceful industry experts who contribute significantly to national development through ongoing secondment to different tiers of governments and institutions across the country. The Bank’s alumni are highly sought after in both the public and private sectors. FirstBank strongly believes that by ensuring a robust employee value proposition that helps retain top performers, it will continue to improve on the outstanding performance of its people during and after their service to the Bank.

Delightful Returns and Superior Value

The long-drawn transformation in the Nigerian financial services sector has distinguished FirstBank as one of Nigeria’s strongest financial services groups.

This is as a result of the Bank’s proactive and far-reaching transformation programme initiated ahead of the turn of the present century. FirstBank was the first quoted company in Nigeria to achieve the feat of hitting the trillion-naira mark in market capitalisation, the clearest evidence of the market’s estimation of its worth. In 2012, the FirstBank Group adopted a holding company structure – FBN Holdings Plc – in recognition of the need to retain the diversity of the Bank’s businesses, to enable the provision of a full range of financial services to customers beyond commercial banking, to investment banking, insurance brokerage and other financial services.

The Commercial Banking Group is led by FirstBank, and it has operations in 10 countries, with 9 subsidiary companies and 1 representative office. These provide a comprehensive range of retail and corporate financial services, including commercial banking services to a rich network of both individual customers and businesses, pension fund custody, and nominees and associated services.

Entities under the FirstBank Group include FirstBank UK Ltd – a fully licensed bank in the UK with offices in London and Paris; FirstBank DRC acquired in 2011, FirstBank Gambia, FirstBank Sierra Leone FirstBank Ghana, FirstBank Guinea, all acquired in 2013, and FBNBank Senegal acquired in 2014.

These acquisitions are major landmarks in FirstBank’s plan for growing its sub-Saharan African footprint. Other subsidiaries of the Bank are First Pension Custodian Ltd (FirstPension), Nigeria’s foremost pension fund custody services provider and First Nominess Nigeria Ltd, providing non-assets pension custody.

The Bank also has a representative office in Beijing set up to capture trade-related businesses. The Nigerian banking business operates nationally and internationally, with active customer account base of over 42 million served through a large distribution network consisting of over 820 business locations, and more than 13 million cards in issue.

These diverse operations in the financial services industry, with widespread service outlets, ensure the foothold of FirstBank as a foremost financial services provider in Nigeria, contributing enormously to the growth and development of the national economy and delighting its stakeholders.

A Service and
Nation-Building Model

FirstBank is proud of its contributions to national growth and development over the past century. The Bank's role in ensuring methodical and rapid economic transformation has been further strengthened through the FirstBank Impact Series.

As West Africa’s pioneer financial services group, FirstBank is proud of its contributions to national growth and development over the past century, which places it at the vanguard of national policy evolution and thought leadership. The Bank’s role in ensuring methodical and rapid economic transformation has been further strengthened through the FirstBank Impact Series, the policy and thought leadership initiative of the Bank. The Series is run through insightful, actionable and change-centred conferences, workshops, seminars, strategy sessions and policy implementation roadshows to drive far-reaching changes in the society.

The initiative provides engaging platforms for evolving strategic outlook to problem-solving, especially from the capacity building and leadership perspectives. So far, the Bank has, through its concerted singular projects and collaborative partnerships, charted sustainable roadmaps in the spheres of leadership, youth development and socio-economic empowerment.

By playing key roles in the Federal Government’s privatisation and commercialisation scheme over the past years, FirstBank has led the financing of private investment in infrastructure development in the Nigerian economy. A key element of the Bank’s strategy is its continued focus on retail banking and consumer financing, gradually shifting towards a high-yield diversified portfolio by aggressively targeting the middle-class consumer market. The market opportunity is evident in the fact that consumer spending, which is a major driver of domestic demand in developed economies, still constitutes a relatively lower percentage of GDP in Nigeria.

The Bank’s Transaction and Private Banking strategic business unit (SBU) ensures the banking convenience of high net-worth customers, who require specialised banking services to cater to their peculiar needs. Also, in order to provide enhanced support for smaller businesses, there has been a reorganisation of the Corporate Banking Division to spin off the Commercial Banking SBU. This creates a different value proposition to that critical segment of the business community where pillars of economic growth are nurtured. FirstBank’s Specialised Lending Department (SLD) focuses on structuring projects and object finance transactions across various sectors of the economy, especially in the areas of infrastructure, power, oil and gas, transportation and real estate.

The Bank supports the acquisition of stakes in Oil Mining Leases (OMLs), financing development of oilfields, financing cash calls for both operating and capital expenditures through Strategic Alliance Contracts. FirstBank has provided over $1 billion to the part-finance acquisition of interests, as well as working capital for production to a number of OMLs; and an aggregate of about $500 million for construction and completion of Gas pipelines to Marginal Fields and Cement Plants.

FirstBank is at the forefront in financing power projects and has provided over $220 million to part-finance the acquisition of both Generating Companies and Distribution Companies under the privatisation of the Power Sector by the Federal Government. The Bank’s support for infrastructure development spans the entire country, having participated in various syndication transactions and direct funding of over N100 billion for redevelopment and tolling of roads, airport terminals, ultra-modern markets, site and services schemes, construction and maintenance of engineering infrastructure under PPP arrangements, new town developments, and shopping malls with Shoprite and Game as Anchor tenants.

FirstBank is actively involved in the agricultural sector of the economy and has been a major financier of various types of assets for the establishment, expansion and modernisation of various agricultural enterprises. The Bank has introduced customer-friendly and need-focused product schemes, partnered with international organisations and collaborated with Federal, State governments and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to support the sector.

FirstBank will continue to support sectors with viable economic activities and infrastructure development projects, within the Bank’s defined target market and risk acceptance criteria. Furthermore, the Bank will persist in generating insightful initiatives to impact citizen-oriented national development through the FirstBank Impact Series and other development programmes.

Corporate Governance Pacesetter

FirstBank's corporate governance practice remains at the industry's leading edge. This is especially evident in its laudable leadership transition processes.

A best-fit corporate governance promoter, FirstBank’s corporate governance practice remains at the industry’s leading-edge. This is especially evident in its laudable leadership transition processes, ensuring that there is seamless business continuity and stability in all aspects of the Bank’s businesses. This corporate governance posture has won the Bank much respect and recognition both locally and internationally.

The Bank’s prime status has been reinforced with the award of the prestigious ISO/IEC 27001:2005 certification, the world’s highest accreditation for information protection and security from the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). By this certification, FirstBank distinguished itself as the first organisation in Nigeria to achieve the ISO 27001, which is an affirmation that the Bank has adopted and complied with the highest known standards in information security globally. After three years of certification, FirstBank successfully implemented the recertification of ISO/IEC 27001:2005 in 2013.

In addition to this certification, FirstBank again became the first organisation to be awarded the BS25999 certification, the highest accreditation in Business Continuity Management received from the British Standard Institute. The certifications confirm the Bank’s ability to safeguard its assets, staff well-being and customers’ investments, and favourably respond to incidents and business disruption to always ensure business continuity.

Awards and Recognition

With 130 years of uninterrupted operations, FirstBank’s outstanding services have attracted innumerable recognitions and awards.

The Bank was first listed on The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in March 1971 and won the NSE’s Annual President’s Merit Award for the best financial report in the banking industry a record thirteen times. This subsisting feat received an additional impetus when the Bank in 2011 was bestowed the “Best Financial Reporting Company” award by Africa Investor, one of Africa’s most respected multimedia investment news and information publishers.

In the same period, FirstBank was named the “Most Innovative Bank in Africa” by African Banker Awards. This highly coveted award goes to the African bank that has demonstrated original and practical uses of technology to provide customer convenience, better and cheaper services, and greater access to the financial services industry in Africa. The award, therefore, represents a global recognition of the giant strides that FirstBank has made over the years in deploying technology to power its operations and services and ultimately making banking services more convenient, accessible and faster. These are major feats in the Bank’s customer-oriented and innovative financial services that confirm the Bank’s interest in promoting its customers’ lifestyles and businesses.

FirstBank has been the back-to-back winner of the “Best Bank in Nigeria” for twelve (12) years, “Best Trade Finance Bank in Nigeria”, and “Best Foreign Exchange Bank in Nigeria” for seven (7) consecutive years – all awarded by the US-based Global Finance magazine. The Bank has also been the back-to-back winner of the “Best Bank in Nigeria” awarded by the EMEA Finance magazine for four (4) consecutive years. FirstBank is also the winner of the “Best Banking Group in Nigeria”, awarded by World Finance Banking Awards, the “Best Investment Bank” and the “Best Private Bank” awarded by the same institution, the latter which the Bank has received five times. FirstBank was awarded the “ICT Telecoms Deal of the Year” awarded by the Ai CEO Infrastructure Awards 2012, a worthy recognition of the Bank’s role in the EMTS (Etisalat) US$650Million Syndicated Term Loan, 2011 and was named “The Bank of the Year in Nigeria” in The Banker Awards 2012.

For six consecutive years, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, the Bank was named “Nigeria’s Number One Banking Brand” by Brand Finance Top 500 Banking Brands and “Best Retail Bank in Nigeria”, 2011, 2012 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 by the Asian Banker International Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards. Also, in 2013, FirstBank was awarded the “Best Bank in Nigeria” in the Euromoney Awards for Excellence, “Best Bank in West Africa” in the African Banker Awards, and Best Foreign Exchange Services in Africa in the EMEA Finance Treasury Services Awards.

Notably, in 2022, FirstBank took a long stride on its growth trajectory with the Bank’s Viability and Long-Term Issuer Default Ratings upgraded to ‘B’ from ‘B-‘ (with Outlooks Stable) by Fitch, a leading global rating agency. This is an indication of the Bank’s strong internal capital generation and corresponding recession of its risks to capitalisation. Fitch also upgraded the Bank’s National Long-Term Ratings to ‘A (nga)’ from ‘BBB (nga)’, to reflect its improved creditworthiness relative to that of other issuers in Nigeria. Furthermore, the Top 100 African Bank rankings 2022 released by The Banker Magazine revealed FirstBank’s ranking as number one in Nigeria in terms of Overall Performance, Profitability, Efficiency and Return on Risk. 

Other laudable feats in 2022 include FirstBank’s international recognitions on major indices by Euromoney Market Leaders, an independent global assessment of the leading financial service providers where FirstBank was crowned:

  • Market Leader: (tier-1 recognition) in Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR),
  • Market Leader: (tier -1 recognition) Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG),
  • Highly Regarded: in Corporate Banking and Digital Solutions,
  •  Notable: in SME Banking.
Also, in 2022 International Finance Magazine named the Bank “Most Innovative Banking Product in Nigeria” and “Best Retail Bank in Nigeria”. FirstBank was also awarded “Best Corporate Banking Western Africa, 2022” and “Best CSR Bank Western Africa, 2022’’ by Global Banking and Finance Magazine. Other notable awards in FirstBank coffers include: “Best Bank in Nigeria” by Global Finance magazine – fifteen times in a row; “Best Private Bank in Nigeria-2021” awarded by Global Finance magazine; “Best Internet Banking Nigeria” and ‘’Best CSR Bank Africa’’ by International Business Magazine.
In 2023, FirstBank has received notable awards including “Best Private Bank for Sustainable Investing in Africa 2023” by Global Finance Awards; “Best Sustainable Bank in Nigeria 2023” by International Investors Awards; “Best Bespoke Banking Services in Nigeria 2023” by International Investors Awards; “Best Financial Inclusion Service Provider in Nigeria 2023” by Digital Banker Africa; and “African Bank of the Year” by African Leadership Magazine; ‘’Best Corporate Bank in Nigeria 2023’’ by Euromoney Awards and ‘’Most Innovative Banking Brand – Nigeria 2023’’ by Global Brands Award.

All these accolades attest to FirstBank’s exceptional commitments to promoting national economic growth and development through constructive engagements with the public and private sectors of the growing Nigerian economy.

Corporate Identity Refresh

Following its adoption of a holding company structure, FirstBank has unveiled a refreshed corporate identity, including that of all its subsidiaries.

As a brand of fortitude, strength and innovation in the Nigerian financial sector, following its adoption of a holding company structure, FirstBank on 27 January 2014, unveiled a refreshed corporate identity (including that of all its subsidiaries) designed to reflect the company’s strategic direction and positioning it to meet the future needs of the market. The African elephant which is a respected and instantly recognisable icon of its brand identity was retained. However, it was reignited with some enhancements that communicate a robust evolution relevant to today’s marketplace.

The raised head of the elephant in our refreshed identity is our promise to all customers that with us in their corner, they can face every financial challenge with their head held high. The deep blue colour represents momentum, innovation and evolution. These principles ensure that we continue to develop solutions that are at the heart of all their challenges. The raised foot of the elephant is a promise that we will always put our best foot forward for every one of our customers. The adoption of gold into our logo, a precious metal identified with value, serves as a reminder of the inherent value and durability of our brand. This marks a renewed promise to all our stakeholders – a promise to continue to set the gold standard of value and excellence in financial solutions across Sub-Saharan Africa.

The FirstBank Brand

Since 1894, FirstBank has established itself as a brand of strength and dynamism, with the vision to be Africa’s bank of first choice.

At FirstBank, we recognise the immutable merits of maintaining a “brand-first” mindset and culture, as a critical component of our business strategy. Our brand has evolved over the years, with strengthened brand muscles to match the constantly evolving expectations of today’s increasingly discerning stakeholders.

Since 1894, FirstBank has established itself as a brand of strength and dynamism, with the vision to be Africa’s bank of first choice. Our brand is at the heart of the holistic experience we seek to deliver to our stakeholders perpetually, which is essential to retaining patronage and the competitive edge that keeps us at the coveted position of the market leader.

Our brand interacts with our stakeholders and demonstrates an understanding of their busy modern lives or businesses, to support their aspirations. Hence, we have evolved for 130 years by respecting and upholding the shared heritage relevant not only to today’s modern Nigerians but also today’s modern world.

Our brand is therefore on a definitive mission to create a strong global presence in order to reinforce our position 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.

We live by our beliefs and consistently strive to Inspire Understanding, Drive Collaboration, and Build a Better Way to unify and strengthen our brand to delight all stakeholders. Consequently, we work daily to implement best practices through our culture and ultimately enable our employees to understand our customers’ lives and be driven to meet their needs appropriately.

Our brand purpose is to always put our stakeholders, customers and partners at the heart of our business, even as we are poised to standardise customer experience and excellence in financial solutions across Sub Saharan Africa, in consonance with our brand vision “To be the first partner choice in building your future”.

Our brand promise is thus to always deliver the ultimate “gold standard” of value and excellence. Our financial services knowledge and practices lead the market in ensuring that we understand our customers and surpass expectations by seeking better ways of delivering first-class service and experience.

This dedication to delivering the gold standard is anchored on our core values of Entrepreneurship, Professionalism, Innovation and Customer-centricity (EPIC), to position “You First” in every respect.

To date, the iconic African elephant has been a robust symbol of strength and growth, establishing the organisation as a clear leader in the financial services industry. The elephant is the respected and instantly recognisable icon of the FirstBank brand identity and as such, we value the trust, approachability and stability that this represents.

Our new refreshed corporate identity retains the elephant and re-ignites this iconic symbol with a number of enhancements that accentuate a robust evolution relevant for today.

Our brand language is the visual and narrative look and feel of our brand. It is the essential combination of the logo, the images, the fonts, the pattern, the icons, the colours, the symbols, the identity and the words.

The new colour palette is a clear reflection of our brand personality and tone of voice whilst robustly portraying our profitability pedigree. It evolves the FirstBank trademark Blue to reflect richer and more premium equity and combines with new complementary colour partners.

In putting “You First” we promise to be:

  • There for you and committed to you, our customers and stakeholders
  • A financial solutions group that listens, understands and connects with you as people
  • A financial solutions group that will deliver the relevant experiences that exceed your expectations
  • A financial solutions group that has the products and services that meet the diverse needs of modern Sub-Saharan Africa
  • A financial solutions group that you can trust and rely upon
  • A financial solutions group that is there as a constant financial partner throughout our customers’ lives

For the sixth time, The Banker Magazine named FirstBank as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria, a very big deal for us and for our stakeholders. We won the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, thanks to all our stakeholders. Also, for the sixth consecutive time, FirstBank won the Best Retail Bank by The Asian Banker International Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards, the most recognised international awards programme in the Retail Financial Services Industry. Other awards won by FirstBank include the Best Bank in Nigeria (an award which the Bank has won 12 times), by Global Finance; Best Banking Brand and Best Banking Performer, both by Global Brands Awards. Winning these awards is a further affirmation of our brand promise – that we will continue to put our stakeholders and partners at the heart of our business.

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