Tony Elumelu: 7 Ways He Made UBA a Banking Juggernaut
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Billionaires - Industry - April 27, 2023

Tony Elumelu: 7 Ways He Made UBA a Banking Juggernaut

United Bank for Africa (UBA), a Nigerian-based financial institution has become a leading player in the African banking industry under the leadership of Tony Elumelu, the group chairman. Elumelu implemented a series of strategies that transformed the bank into one of the most successful financial  institutions with a strong presence across the continent.

Here, we will explore the strategies that Elumelu used to achieve this remarkable transformation. This will give us insights into the visionary leadership and strategic approach that helped in the company’s transformation.

Strong leadership

Tony Elumelu leadership quality was instrumental in the transformation of the organization into a leading financial institution. He recognized the importance of aligning the entire organization towards a common goal and worked tirelessly to ensure that all employees understood the bank’s vision and were committed to achieving it.

Elumelelu set a clear vision for the bank, communicated it effectively to employees at all levels of the organization, and provided the necessary resources and support to make it a reality. This helped to create a sense of accountability and responsibility throughout the organization.

He said “We shared a vision of what we wanted to accomplish, we set milestones, timeframes and put in place the building blocks that would lead to that success. These helped us to get there”.

Embracing innovation and technology

One of the key strategies was to embrace innovation across all areas of the bank. This involves the adoption of new technologies which allowed UBA to develop new products and services that set it apart from its competitors.

The bank invested in cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain, which enabled it to offer more efficient and personalized banking services to customers. 

For instance, UBA introduced LEO, a Chat Banker in 2018 to serve as the holographic receptionist across the various platforms. Since it launched on Facebook and Whatsapp, the service has now been extended to Apple Business Chat for IOS on iPhone and iPad.

He said, “Of course, we realised that all of these, especially democratising access to banking in Africa at the time, was difficult and couldn’t be done manually, so we had to leverage technology. It was critical to our drive.

Customer-centric approach

Another key strategy that Tony Elumelu implemented was to place the customer at the center of everything that revolves around the corporation. The focus was placed on providing excellent customer service and meeting the needs of customers across a range of segments.

By prioritizing the needs of its customers and providing them with convenient and reliable banking services, Elumelu was able to build a loyal customer base and establish itself as a leading financial institution across Africa.

Investing in people

Investing in people was a critical strategy which Tony Elumelu was quick to understand.  He recognized that employees were the backbone of the organization and that investing in their development would help to improve the quality of the bank’s services.

To actualize this, Elumelu implemented a range of training and development programs that enabled employees to acquire new skills and knowledge, including leadership development programs, customer service training, and technical skills training. 

These initiatives helped to create a culture of continuous learning and development within the organization, which resulted in a more competent and engaged workforce. “We assembled the right people and mobilised all. We trained our people, and we shared a common vision, all of us. We motivated our people, we rewarded our people, we sanctioned when necessary, and collectively we made it”, Elumelu said.

Prioritising purpose

Tony Elemulu defined the aim and objectives of the institution right from when the bank was acquired which he passed across to everyone in the organisation. The objectives were also passed to its stakeholders, partners, amongst others which they all worked towards. 

Elumelu said “We defined it broadly, we want to democratise access to financial services and everyone in the organisation knew what we wanted to achieve, and we all worked towards that. We shared our aspirations with our stakeholders, so they held us accountable, and we also shared it internally, so everyone was in sync and mobilised”.

Streamlining operations

Elumelu implemented a range of initiatives to improve the institution;s processes and streamline its operations. This could include examples of the centralized operations hub and customer relationship management system mentioned earlier, as well as other process improvement initiatives that helped to make UBA more efficient and effective.

He said “Putting the right processes in place, institutionalising them, and ensuring everyone followed them From technology, operations and people”.

Strategic partnerships

Tony Elumelu formed several strategic partnerships with other organizations in the financial services industry to expand its range of services and provide more value to its customers.

This includes a partnership with Cellulant, a leading Pan-African Payments Company in March 2022 to extend payment services for merchants and consumers across 19 key African countries in which UBA operates. This is basically to enjoy shared network opportunities and streamlined digital payments services directly through their bank.

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