The Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (SLCB), which has maintained its leadership status in the banking industry for half a century, officially opened another branch at Goderich Road, opposite Lumley Market, Lumley, in the west of the capital Freetown, on Thursday, September 21, 2023.
The grand opening of the SLCB Lumley Branch attracted several dignitaries and stakeholders of the Lumley Community, including the Bank’s Acting. Board Chairman Mohammed Fuaad Daboh, who is also Director-General of the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT); the Acting Financial Secretary, Mr. Samuel E. B. Momoh, who represented the Ministry of Finance; Mr. Hilton Jarret, who represented the Acting Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL), Dr. Ibrahim L. Stevens; the Local Unit Commander of the Lumley Police Division, Assistant Inspector General Mr. Sylvester Koroma; the Managing Director of SLCB, Mr. Yusufu Abdul Silla and his Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Festus E. Sowa; Directors of the Bank and many other dignitaries and stakeholders.
Delivering a statement on behalf of the Minister of Finance, Mr. Sheku Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura, Mr. Samuel E. B. Momoh, Acting Financial Secretary, told the auspicious gathering that the growing competitiveness in the banking industry and similarity of services offered by banks have made it increasingly important that banks identify the factors that determine the basis upon which customers choose between providers of financial services. “Therefore, understanding customers’ bank selection criteria has been argued to be helpful to banks in identifying the appropriate marketing strategies needed to attract new customers and retain existing ones,” Mr. Samuel Momoh averred.
He emphasised factors, among others, that customers consider important in the selection of a bank, such as reputation, recommendations from others, interesting advertisements, convenience of location, opening hours, and high technological services. Dilating on convenience of location, Mr. Momoh told the audience that the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (SLCB) is a 100% Sierra Leonean-owned bank that has made tremendous performance in the past couple of years and pays dividends to the government annually. He also noted that the official opening of the SLCB Lumley Branch is part of the bank’s relentless efforts to expand its reach to customers and the general public at minimum cost in line with the Bank of Sierra Leone’s (BSL) financial inclusion policy that is geared towards increasing accessibility of bank services to the populace.
“It could be regarded as an answer to the clarion call of the numerous customers, as the vicinity is one of the busiest places now in Freetown, where customers of the bank, as well as would-be customers, are highly in need of banking services,” Mr. Momoh observed, adding, “It is expected that this branch will serve the community with value and efficiency. It will improve the customer service experience and convenience for existing and progressive customers.”
He commended SLCB for demonstrating resilience in challenging times, most notably the erosion of the bank’s capital, which necessitated recapitalization, and that the bank has maintained its leadership status despite the entrance of foreign banks into the Sierra Leone banking industry.
“At the Ministry of Finance, we are pleased at the strides the bank is making to enhance its digital capabilities and radical financial inclusion initiatives with the piloting of ‘Mi Yone SLCB Moni’ and the exciting ‘Women’s Banking’ initiative. These are key priority areas of the government and critical to Sierra Leone’s economic development through inclusive growth,” the Ag. Financial Secretary assured SLCB.
He encouraged the bank to continue putting customers’ needs first and deepening customer relationship management in an era of stiff competition in the banking industry.
Mr. Momoh also complimented the bank on yet another achievement, noting that “to thrive, you must embrace innovativeness, operate smartly, in an agile manner, and continue to prioritise your role as a key partner in ensuring a resilient and stable financial sector, which is the backbone of promoting the socio-economic development of Sierra Leone.”
Mr. Hilton Jarret, Deputy Director of Banking Supervision who represented the Ag. Central Bank Governor conveyed his profound apology on behalf of the Bank Governor and the Deputies, who were conspicuously absent from the grand opening of the SLCB Lumley Branch.
Mr. Jarret congratulated the board, management, and staff of SLCB for establishing a branch at Lumley, which he said was a clear indication of the bank’s efforts to take its services to the doorsteps of the people.
The Bank of Sierra Leone representative harped on the Central Bank’s financial inclusion policy aimed at increasing accessibility of bank services to the people, while he quoted several financial acts that have created the enabling environment for commercial banks to operate effectively and efficiently in the country.
Mr. Jarret entreated the SLCB to further expand its financial services for customers and urged the people of Lumley to take advantage of the opportunity that the bank has offered them.
The Local Unit Commander of the Lumley Police Division, AIG Sylvester Koroma, congratulated the SLCB for bringing the bank to the doorsteps of the people in the Lumley community. He explained how many community members got into difficulties while withdrawing or depositing their money in distant branches, such as encountering Okada boys who would snatch their bags of money from them.
He described the SLCB as their (police) bank of choice, praised the bank for providing them with the required products, services, and facilities that they are benefiting a lot from, and thanked the bank for the benefits they are enjoying.
AIG Sylvester Koroma averred that the SLP is the first choice of security and assured the SLCB of the safety of their new branch. “We’ll provide you with the enabling environment to do your business,” the police boss assured the bank.
Given the background of the SLCB Lumley Branch, the Managing Director of SLCB, Mr. Yusufu Abdul Silla, who was extremely delighted to stand before the audience in their jubilee year, disclosed that in 2022 it was a project that looked impossible, but it has happened under the tremendous supervision of the indefatigable Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Festus Sowa.
The managing director described SLCB as the ‘People’s Bank’ and assured that the bank will increase its branches because they are working hand in glove with the Central Bank’s financial inclusion strategy, which is geared towards increasing the accessibility of banking services to the people.
He extolled the people for their unwavering support of the SLCB and said that it is because of them that they are thriving, adding that they believe in the power of financial inclusion and empowerment through the various financial services offered.
The SLCB Managing Director assured that they would engage with the community, especially traders, to see how best they could empower them, such as by investing in their children through the award of scholarships. He therefore urged the people to take advantage of the facilities provided by the SLCB Lumley Branch.
Mr. Silla also emphasised the four factors stated by the acting financial secretary that customers consider very important in the selection of a bank and urged his team to imbibe them more vigorously.
Formally declaring the SLCB Lumley Branch open, the Acting Board Chairman, Mr. Mohammed Fuaad Daboh, extolled the efforts of the board, management, and staff, which reflect the values of the SLCB.
He commended the Central Bank for providing the enabling environment for their aspirations. He told Sierra Leoneans that SLCB is their bank and, therefore, they must work together to protect it.
“Together, we shall make this bank a symbol of financial empowerment in this community,” Mr. Daboh assured, adding that they appreciated the customers’ turnout.
On that note, the Acting Board Chairman officially declared the SLCB Lumley Branch opened. The SLCB Lumley Branch Manager, Sunya V. Rogers, who gave the vote of thanks, led the tour of the branch’s cosy facilities and explained the functions of the