Although First National Bank Ghana is only a few years old in Ghana, it is part of one of Africa’s biggest and most accomplished banking groups, the South Africa headquartered First Rand Group, which owns Rand Merchant Bank and the First National Bank in addition to other finance houses with presence in many African countries.
Ghana marks the groups entry into West Africa for the first time although another member of the First Rand Group – Rand Merchant Bank, an investment bank – has been operating in neighboring Nigeria as RMB Nigeria. Thus, Ghana is one of the first countries in the sub region to benefit from the First Rand group’s exemplary brand of corporate and investment banking. Its parent, First Rand provides banking, insurance, investment products and services to retail, commercial, corporate and public sector customers, not just in Africa but also in the UK and in India. This means First National Bank Ghana is part of a truly global banking group that is not just an industry leader across sub Saharan Africa but is also active in some of the world’s main financial centres.
The extensive geographical reach which First National Bank Ghana is leveraging through its parent company is matched by the sheer financial strength that First Rand brings to bear on its operations. By the end of 2016, the First Rand Group had US$86 billion in assets, from which it made revenues last year of US$7.2 billion and gross profits of US$5.2 billion.
Leveraging on the immense financial muscle, deep expertise and vast experience of its parent group, First National Bank now offers corporate Ghana the cash management, financing solutions and financial markets risk management products and services that have helped to developed corporations that are competitive in both their domestic economies and at the global level as well.
It is instructive that First National Bank South Africa has been voted the Best Business Bank in South Africa, the continent’s most sophisticated economy.
“We are seeking to replicate the same success and relevance here in Ghana through First National Bank” enthuses Victor Yaw Asante, head of Corporate Commercial and Investment Banking in the Ghana subsidiary. “We are aiming to use world class products and services to support the establishment of world class businesses.”
To do this First National Bank offers products and services that helps clients to manage both their cash and their financial market risks.
With regards to cash management the bank provides both generic and specially designed and branded bank accounts, cash solutions, liquidity management, payment and receipt solutions, financial reconciliation and transactional banking solutions. Add to all these, both trade finance and working capital solutions.
Importantly, all these are offered by both traditional delivery channels and also by the best in class digital channels, which offer business clients the convenience and comfort of consummating their financial transactions from anywhere they are 24/7, in real time and with complete security. Indeed, First National Bank is Ghana’s first fully digital bank, having been conceptualized and established as one, rather than having transformed from a traditional commercial bank into a digital one in line with new technologies, trends and customer demands.
Pivotally, First National Bank brings with it an array of products and services designed and implemented to minimize market risks, particularly with regards to interest rate risk and foreign exchange risk. The first is of crucial importance in Ghana’s high interest rate environment which makes financing cost a key element in business cost build up; the second is equally important because of the inherent volatility of the cedi’s stability rate in relation to all the major international trading currencies. To this end First National offers forward and future contracts, swaps and options which can be used for various types of fixed and floating interest rate contracts and to meet forex obligations for all the major international trading currencies.
First National Bank offers customized medium to long term financing solutions for corporate Ghana through its unparalleled expertise and experience with regards to financially engineered investment banking solutions, covering both debt and equity.
These solutions are available across all sectors of the Ghanaian economy but the bank is particularly outstanding in the infrastructure, real estate, commodities, transport and the oil and gas sectors. To provide the requisite financing support for customers the bank can leverage on the financial muscle of its parent group and where necessary uses its excellent reputation to organize syndicated loan financing, bringing together some of the world’s most respected commercial lenders.
Most importantly, First National’s corporate and investment capacities enable clients to engage in seamless cross-border trade and investment, both within the African continent and across the rest of the world, with minimized financial risk. This gives clients the opportunity to take advantage of international supply and value chains in their respective production processes and also exploit global markets for their products and services.
While sophisticated corporate banking and investment banking solutions have usually been the forte of multinational corporations active in Ghana, First National Bank has, for the first time in this country, brought such solutions within the grasp of indigenous medium sized corporations as well, thus offering them the crucial financial advantages that are key in the transformation from a medium sized local business into a large sized one profitably operating across several countries.
This is potentially a game changer.
“First National is willing and fully capable of providing the financial service backing to turn well managed indigenous businesses into world class multinationals” asserts Victor Yaw Asante. “Our parent group stands out around the world for doing this and finally we have brought our business transformational skills and capabilities here for the benefit of corporate Ghana.”
The prospect of world class indigenously owned corporations operating beyond Ghana itself is an exciting one and one which is direly needed at this stage in Ghana’s economic evolution. Finally, Ghana has a bank that can make it happen as First National Bank becomes the conduit through which the First Rand Group brings its world class corporate and investment banking skills and financial muscle to bear for the benefit of corporate Ghana.
First National Bank group members collectively operate 870 branches and more than 6,600 automated teller machines (ATMs) across Africa.