"I don’t see
First City Monument Bank as a family-run business anymore,"
Ladi Balogun, managing director and chief executive of
First City Monument Bank (FCMB) based in Lagos.
"It’s a public-owned entity that is trading
actively on the stock exchange with over 500,000 shareholders.
I’m the only family member on the board and I am
certain that my successor will not be a member of the
Balogun joined FCMB back in 1995, after working as an
investment banker in London and New York. Under his leadership,
Balogun has transformed FCMB from a privately held business to
a listed company on the
Nigerian Stock Exchange in 2004 and from a merchant
bank to full service banking group.
"While the family provided the bank’s soul and
a long-term outlook, for the business to survive it
didn’t make sense to keep it private," he says.
Balogun is part of a growing class in Nigeria that sees value
in going public.
Since the float, Balogun has widely diversified the
bank’s remit, and commercial banking and
micro-finance are becoming more important. As a result, the
bank has vastly increased its client base from 70,000 mainly
high-net-worth individuals and businesses served by five
branches to two million customers and 270 branches.
The bank’s micro-lending activities that began
in 2007 have grown strongly, creating £20 million in
annual profit by 2013.
Last year, the bank’s micro-finance business
came into being, central to the bank’s financial
inclusion programme. Although the project is in its earliest
stages, FCMB has already given a few thousand micro-finance
loans with a default rate of only 0.5%.
"At the moment, there are only a few banks that are looking
to tap the unbanked market and we are taking a lead in this
area to help reach the government’s aim to
increase the number of banked from 20% to 70% of the population
in the next 10 years," says Balogun.
"Financial inclusion is critical for a thriving banking
industry and to the overall macro story of a country."
He adds: "While micro-finance might not be the largest
project that our bank undertakes, we do believe it is an
essential part of our business because inclusive growth will
help tackle social problems by empowering households and
farmers." Farming is the country’s largest
occupation, employing 80 million people.
In 2001, under Balogun, the bank was also a leading player
in telecoms-sector liberalization, advising the first GSM
operator in Nigeria,
Econet Wireless Nigeria.
While his brother, Bolaji Balogun, has looked for
entrepreneurial opportunities outside of FCMB, Balogun sees the
benefits of creating new businesses within one that is
"For now I am not interested in pursuing other
entrepreneurial projects outside of banking here," he
"As a banker, I can keep adding value to the bank,
diversifying our business and also help other entrepreneurs
realize their goals – which can actually be a lot more
fulfilling than being an entrepreneur focused on a single