The second succession process at Fidelity Bank Plc came to a smooth close on December 31, 2013, when outgoing Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Reginald Ihejiahi after ten years on the saddle proceeded on terminal leave.
In his place, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, who was announced CEO-designate in October last year, has assumed duties as the substantive Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the bank effective January 1, 2014, following the approval of his appointment by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
With this successful transition, Okonkwo becomes the third chief executive officer of Fidelity Bank, in its 25 years of existence having had only two CEOs previously and thus becoming one of the most stable managements in the Nigerian banking industry.
Until his appointment, Okonkwo was the Executive Director in charge of the South Directorate of the bank.
The new CEO holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Benin and an MBA in Banking & Finance from Enugu State University.
He is also a graduate of the Advanced Management Programme of INSEAD Business School, Fontainebleau, France, as well as an alumnus of Harvard Business School and Wharton School University of Pennsylvania. In addition, he has attended various other business and management training programmes locally and overseas.
Okonkwo is coming with over 24 years experience in various aspects of banking, covering Domestic Operations, Corporate Finance, Corporate Banking, Retail and Commercial/Consumer Banking. Before joining Fidelity, he had an outstanding career in United Bank for Africa (UBA) where he rose to the position of Managing Director and CEO, UBA Ghana and later doubled as the Regional Chief Executive Officer for UBA West African Monetary Zone, with responsibility for Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Between 2004 and 2006, Okonkwo was General Manager in Standard Trust (which later became UBA) and later in 2005 was Regional Director of UBA in charge of branches in the FCT, Niger and Kogi states. He later became Divisional Head for the Corporate Bank Directorate between 2009 and 2012, before returning to Fidelity Bank Plc, as Executive Director, after working in old FSB that consolidated to form the enlarged Fidelity Bank between 1998 and 2000.
Okonkwo’s early banking career started at Guaranty Trust Bank where he was at various times, Account Officer and Relationship Manager in Corporate Banking in Lagos and Port Harcourt. He later rose to the position of Manager of Onitsha branch, which was GT Bank’s second branch in Eastern Nigeria.
In his maiden address to the staff at the weekend, Okonkwo paid glowing tributes to Ihejiahi for his achievements in Fidelity Bank over the last 10 years.
He pointed out that under the former CEO, Fidelity Bank had grown from being in the Top 30 Banks in Nigeria with 17 branches; N20 billion in deposits; N30 billion in total assets; less than 150,000 customers to a bank that now ranks among the Top 10 Banks in Nigeria with over $1 billion in equity; over N1 trillion total assets and serving 2.3 million customers through nearly 220 branches with presence in all the state capitals and major commercial centres in Nigeria.
The workforce also grew exponentially to about 6,650 today. Fidelity Bank is now the sixth largest bank in Nigeria by Shareholders’ Funds and one of the few companies that have consistently paid dividends, without fail, in the last eight years.
Under him also Fidelity Bank has had some of the landmark international financial transactions in the industry, including the issue of Global Deposit Receipts (GDR) in 2007 and the $300 million debut issuance of internationally traded Eurobond in 2013. The bank is also rated very highly by two international rating agencies – Fitch (BBB+) and S & P (BBB+), as well as locally by Agusto & Co. (BBB+).