Founder of Stanbic IBTC, Atedo Peterside, was recently interviewed by Peace Hyde for the business programme, My Worst Day. In it, Atedo discussed several issues, including why it might be difficult for a young person to secure a banking license at 33 today like he did years ago, as well as the bank’s tussle with the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC).
Peterside described himself as a man who had always been motivated to be an entrepreneur.
“I took to banking as a career, more with the intention to be a banking entrepreneur. I’m more of an entrepreneur who just happened to be in banking.”
Was there any major challenge owing to being a CEO at age 33?
For him, being the CEO of a bank at 33 was not the challenge; it came from being the founder and largest shareholder who had to shoulder most of the tough decisions.
“Being an entrepreneur was. Also, being the pillar that carried the bank; That was where the weight came from.”
What was the source of confidence for establishing a bank?
“I was confident because prior to that, I had worked for ten years all my life. I had worked in banking all my life. The minimum requirement was ten years of banking experience, which I had…”
In the latter part of the interview, Atedo also admitted to being a very confident person by nature.
How to run a bank
To him starting a bank is like a marathon.
“On the very first day, your market share is N0.00. The intention is to progressively increase market share, to progressively become relevant. If you try to do it too quickly, the whole thing may crumble. One can only grow a bank as fast as various units take to be in sync. The pace can only be as fast as the weakest link in the chain moves.”
What led to the merger with Stanbic?
He explained that the merger was a well thought out decision.
“We were willing to continue IBTC in its original form for as long as possible. It was a decision we made after 18 years, because we had come across the right type of partner who could take the bank to the next level.”
Creating an environment for equal opportunities
Atedo also explained why IBTC had more women in key management decisions.
“It was simply a case of pursuing merit. You hire the best people you come across. Eventually, in a society that’s male-dominated, because your competitors discriminate, the best women will come to you because in some other places they won’t get a look in…If you offer them a good deal, stable place, consistency and a good reward they will stay.”
Sola David, who was his deputy in IBTC, then Stanbic IBTC, moved on to head the bank and then the parent company as the Chief Executive rest of Africa at the Standard Bank Group.
Why has this feat not been duplicated?
Peterside gave an interesting explanation as to why that feat may be difficult to repeat in current times. According to him:
“Our society is rigged against young people. They have got to be very careful in this environment. Most rules have been put in place to make it very difficult for young people to succeed. When I was young, it wasn’t like that.”
“It’s almost as if some Nigerians, as they got older kept on pulling the rug along with themselves and the environment that enabled them to come in and succeed they withdrew it so today’s young people can’t repeat what they did.
“I am sad that today, no young Nigerian can begin a bank at 33 the way I did. The rules won’t let him. If you have ten years’ experience and you want to come for a banking licence, they will throw you out.”
In his view, this had led to many young people turning their focus to the creative arts, because the rules have not been rigged against them.
“They are going to the areas where they can compete; It is difficult for a 78-year-old man to compete against a 22-year-old man in hip-hop music.”
Worst day in business
“26th of October, 2015. That was when the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) came out with a huge news item that we had falsified our accounts for 2013 and 2014.
“It was the only day possibly in my life, that we had a high profile accuser (which made a false accusation).”
The bank was accused of making provision of technical fees since they had not paid it. The bank, however, had not paid it, because it had not obtained approval.”
Advice to young people
First, they have to understand their abilities, and then pick an event (career or vocation) that they have a fighting chance to succeed in.
You can watch the interview here.