Demola Sogunle: An Inspiring Leader Committed to Building the Most Inclusive Financial Institution in Nigeria

Most Influential Black Corporate Executives to Watch in 2023

Demola Sogunle, CEO of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC was always intrigued by the financial sector. But what inspired him to take the step of faith and join Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC was a combination of factors.

The first factor was that the founder of the company, Peterside Atedo, was a visionary leader who had a track record of success in the financial services industry. His leadership and innovation in the industry were well known, and Demola was drawn to the company because of his reputation.

Secondly, Demola was aligned with the vision of the then “Investment Banking Trust Company,” which was to be a leading provider of financial services in Nigeria, and to contribute to the growth and development of the Nigerian economy. This vision resonated with his aspirations, and he believed that he could make a meaningful contribution to the company’s mission.

Finally, Demola found the culture in the organization fascinating. The company had a strong commitment to excellence, integrity, and teamwork, and he found the work environment stimulating and challenging. The people in the organization were passionate about their work, and he knew that he would be working with some of the best professionals in the industry, whose collective teamwork built Stanbic IBTC into what it is today.

Helping Clients Invest Money and Grow Wealth

Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC is an end-to-end financial services institution and member of Standard Bank Group. The company was incorporated on 14 March 2012 as a Public Limited Liability Company and listed on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange on 23 November 2012.

It is one of the first financial service holding companies in Nigeria with subsidiaries that cut across Pension management, Asset management, Banking, Stock broking, Investment advisory and services, Insurance brokerage, Life Insurance business, Trustees, and Nominees, the most recent addition being their Fintech business.

The company places a strong emphasis on customer satisfaction and innovation, with a commitment to putting customers first and driving innovation in the financial services industry. This is demonstrated by its retail client segment which retained the first position, while the CIB client segment moved from the sixth position to number 1, based on the KPMG banking industry customer experience survey ratings for 2022.

Stanbic IBTC is currently on a digital transformation journey to become a platform business, which will enhance financial inclusion, deepen customer entrenchment, improve accessibility, and better satisfy customers. One of its core values is “Serving our customers,” and this is evident in the high-quality customer service that the institution provides, and how its clients are classified across segments. It is also renowned for excellent customer service delivery, with a focus on building strong relationships with customers, exceeding their expectations.

In addition to its focus on customer service, Stanbic IBTC provides value to its clients through eleven subsidiaries and has demonstrated leadership in asset management, pensions management, investment banking, dealing, and stockbroking. These services are designed to meet the needs of clients seeking to invest their money and grow their wealth.

Overall, Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC is a forward-thinking financial institution that is committed to meeting the diverse needs of its customers through innovative products and services, outstanding customer service, and a strong focus on digital transformation.

True Success is About Living a Fulfilling and Satisfying Life

Demola defines success as a journey that can be both subjective and objective at the same time, depending on one’s perspective. His thoughts on success are shaped by the belief that it requires careful planning, hard work, and a willingness to take risks. He believes that success does not come easily or by chance but must be earned through consistent effort and strategic decision-making.

Demola also stresses the importance of being intentional and deliberate in one’s actions and goals. He notes that if you want to achieve success, you must set your sights on the right target and be willing to invest the necessary time and effort to achieve it. He insists that success should be measured by the value add to clients, employees, and other stakeholders on the back of one’s actions and decisions.

Demola maintains that, in pursuing success, one must have a vision, trust in their abilities, and have faith in their strength. As Myles Monroe said, “Hard work and diligence are essential to success, but they require an internal motivation. That motivation is vision.” This quote highlights the importance of believing in oneself and having confidence in one’s capabilities.

At the same time, he observes that success is not just about achieving one’s goals, but also about maintaining a sense of purpose and meaning in life.  Demola believes that true success is about living a fulfilling and satisfying life, not just accumulating wealth or status. To achieve this kind of success, one must cultivate strong relationships, pursue meaningful work, and prioritize personal growth and development.

Overall, he feels that success is a complex and multifaceted concept that requires a combination of hard work, strategic planning, and a deep sense of purpose and meaning. By setting the right goals and staying focused on one’s values and priorities, it is possible to achieve the kind of success that truly matters in life.

In terms of Demola’s contribution to the success of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, he notes that as success is a journey, it can span over decades. His predecessors set the organization on a path of success and growth, and he believes that he has been fortunate to ride on the back of their success.

“The leadership of individuals like Yinka Sanni, Sola David-Borha, and Peterside Atedo has inspired me to continue moving this organization forward. In alignment with the vision of our parent company, we recognize that Africa is our home, and we’re committed to driving her growth,” he declares.

Empowering His Team to Think Creatively, Take Risks, and Make Ethical Decisions

Demola notes that the culture at Stanbic IBTC is one of the factors that define who they are as an organization. He outlines several key strategies for ensuring a culture of integrity and innovation in his team at Stanbic IBTC:

  • Firstly, leading by example and setting the tone for the team by living the culture of integrity and innovation himself. This would involve consistently modeling the behaviors and values that he wants to see in his team members.
  • Secondly, he would prioritize recruiting people who align with the organization’s values of integrity and innovation. This would involve not only assessing their technical skills and experience but also evaluating their character and values to ensure that they’re a good fit for their team culture.
  • Thirdly, he would provide ongoing training and development opportunities for his team to enhance their understanding of integrity and innovation. This could include workshops, seminars, or other training sessions that focus on topics such as ethical decision-making, creative problem-solving, and risk-taking.

In addition, Demola insists that the organization’s clients will always be at the center of all decision-making, process improvement, product designs, solutions, and invention. By implementing these strategies, he believes that he can create a strong culture of integrity and innovation in his team at Stanbic IBTC, where team members are empowered to think creatively, take risks, and make ethical decisions that support the organization’s mission and values.

Challenges Help Us Become Stronger and More Resilient

Demola admits that it has often been quite challenging to thrive as a leader in the financial services industry, considering the current economic terrain. One of the biggest challenges they face is the constant changes in the macroeconomic factors and regulations, which can be complex to navigate. “It requires discipline, consistency, and resources to ensure that we’re in compliance with all of the regulations, which can sometimes delay innovation and growth,” he notes.

Additionally, he mentions the emergence of FinTechs which has heightened competition in the industry. These new players are often more agile and able to offer more cutting-edge technology and services, which can make it difficult for established firms to keep up. Hence, it is important to constantly stay on top of new trends and technologies to remain competitive.

The final challenge is that customers in the financial services industry are becoming increasingly sophisticated. They expect more personalized and customized services and are very aware that they have the right to choose by comparing the fees and charges associated with different products and services offered by the competition. This means Stanbic IBTC has to be deliberate in providing value to its customers and ensure that they’re satisfied with the services it provides.

What makes it easier for Demola to deal with challenges is his belief that they’re an integral part of personal growth and development and that through them, we can become stronger and more resilient individuals. Quoting an African proverb, “It is crooked wood that shows the best sculptor,” he clarifies that it means that challenges and imperfections can be opportunities for growth and improvement, and that without them we would not have the chance to develop our skills and resilience.

Despite these challenges, Demola believes that Stanbic IBTC can continue to thrive as a leader in the financial services industry by focusing on innovation, customer service, and building strong relationships with its clients. He observes that it’s important to stay up to date with new developments in the industry and to always look for ways to improve their services and differentiate themselves from the competition.

Focus On Developing a Strong Succession Plan

Demola believes that one of the most important ways to make an influential impact on the next generation of leaders is to focus on developing a strong succession plan. This means identifying potential successors who are not only strong leaders, but also have the potential to be even stronger than themselves. In addition, leaders must provide their successors with opportunities for growth and development, as well as the mentorship and guidance they need to succeed.

“I believe that making an influential impact on the next generation of leaders is critical, not just for the future success of an organization, but also for the benefit of the society as a whole. As a leader, I feel a responsibility to ensure that the next generation of leaders is well-prepared and equipped with the tools and skills they need to succeed,” he maintains.

Demola points out that leaders must ensure that their successor is a stickler for doing things the right way. This means instilling a strong culture of ethics and compliance within the organization and leading by example.

“It is not enough to simply talk about doing things the right way; it is important to demonstrate it through actions. As for how I wish to make an influential impact on the next generation of leaders, I believe that mentorship is critical. I strive to be a better mentor and role model for young leaders at all times, providing them with guidance, advice, and support as they navigate the challenges of leadership. I also believe in providing opportunities for my team to take on challenging projects and assignments, which can help to develop their skills and gain valuable experience,” he explains.

Ultimately, Demola’s goal is to help develop a generation of leaders who are not only strong and capable but also committed to doing things the right way and making a positive impact on the world around them. This is why he believes that there’s no recognition greater than when he sees the crop of leaders groomed in Stanbic IBTC living the values and doing great things in their chosen sectors.

Creating The Most Inclusive Financial Institution in Nigeria

Demola has received numerous awards, locally and internationally, as the Chief Executive of Stanbic IBTC, including the ones below:

  • Best Overall Liquidity Provider (Secondary Market Champion),
  • FMDQ Dealing Member of the Year (the fifth year running)
  • Best Fixed Income Liquidity Provider, and
  • Most Active Securities Sponsor on FMDQ.

Demola recognizes Stanbic IBTC’s enormous growth potential and capacity to take more market share and its commitment to leveraging its strengths and opportunities to expand its business and enhance the value it offers to its clients. He also highlights the tremendous progress being made in digital finance as one key advantage that the organization has today and is excited to be living in an age where technology is enhancing financial inclusion and making it easier for people to access financial services.

Demola declares that Stanbic IBTC is committed to embracing digital innovations and leveraging them to drive growth and success for the organization and its customers. “My expertise, combined with the strong foundation laid by my predecessors and the opportunities presented by digital finance, has positioned us well for continued growth and success at Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC,” he states.

Demola’s vision for Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC is to become the foremost financial services industry in Nigeria, leading the transformation of financial services and facilitating financial inclusion in the country.

This is built on their strategic value drivers, which include focusing on their clients and ensuring their voices are heard and their needs are met; continuous employee engagement to ensure that they provide the right work environment; ensuring that the risk environment is evaluated constantly to ensure that their conduct is governed by laid down policies and regulations; and ensuring that they achieve operational excellence, which in turn will lead to positive financial outcomes and a positive societal, economic and the environmental (SEE) impact through their Seven Impact areas.

To achieve this, Demola plans to focus on four key areas:

Firstly, he hopes to turn Stanbic IBTC into the most customer-centric financial institution in Nigeria. This means providing its customers with exceptional service, innovative products, and seamless experiences across all its channels. The organization will continue to invest in its digital capabilities to make banking more accessible and convenient for its customers.

Secondly, Stanbic IBTC will continue to focus on its core businesses, including corporate and investment banking, personal and business banking, wealth management, and insurance. It will seek to differentiate itself by providing its customers with tailored solutions that meet their unique needs.

Thirdly, Stanbic IBTC will lead the transformation of financial services in Nigeria by embracing new technologies and working closely with FinTechs and other partners to deliver innovative solutions. This includes developing new digital platforms, expanding its reach to new markets, and leveraging data and analytics to gain insights into customer behavior and preferences.

Finally, Stanbic IBTC will continue to prioritize financial inclusion, working to bring more people into the formal financial system and providing them with the tools and resources they need to achieve their financial goals. It will focus on providing affordable and accessible financial products and services to underserved communities, while also supporting financial education and literacy programs.

Demola’s vision for Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC is to be the most inclusive financial institution in Nigeria, providing its customers with best-in-class products and services, while also helping to drive economic growth and prosperity in the country.

Building a Sustainable, Profitable, Aligned Business

As the CEO of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, Demola’s multifaceted responsibilities ensure that the business remains sustainable, profitable, and aligned with the strategic objectives of its shareholders. While his day-to-day activities vary, he outlines a general overview of what a regular day looks like for him:

Firstly, he oversees the subsidiaries that make up the Stanbic IBTC group, providing guidance to the chief executives of the subsidiaries and ensuring that the overarching strategy is being implemented across the group. He works closely with his executive committee to ensure that their operations are aligned with their strategic priorities, and makes decisions on matters such as risk management, investments, and business development.

Secondly, he engages with clients to maintain existing relationships and to build new ones. He attends client meetings and events, responding to their needs and ensuring that they are providing them with the best possible service.

Thirdly, he engages with regulatory bodies frequently to ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations. He ensures that they are keeping abreast of regulatory developments and that implementing best practices to maintain a strong regulatory posture.

Fourthly, he collaborates closely with the people and culture department to ensure that they are attracting and retaining the best talent. This involves developing talent management programs, ensuring that their compensation packages are competitive, and promoting a culture of continuous learning and development.

Lastly, he engages with stakeholders such as shareholders, investors, industry experts, and the media, to ensure that they are well-informed about their operations, and guides their strategic direction and performance.

Demola’s diverse and challenging role as CEO of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC involves balancing all these responsibilities to ensure that the business remains competitive and aligned with the needs of its stakeholders.

Staying Focused, Motivated, and Energized at Work and Life

Maintaining a balance between personal and professional life is also important to Demola, as it helps him stay focused, motivated, and energized, both at work and outside, preventing burnout and emotional exhaustion. Here are some ways in which he achieves this:

Firstly, he makes sure to allocate time for his personal life outside of work and enjoys participating in church activities, watching football, and socializing at recreational clubs, which helps him relax and recharge after a busy day at work.

Secondly, he values spending quality time with his family ensuring that he creates time for them despite his busy schedule. This could involve taking a weekend off to go on a family vacation or dedicating time to attend family events.

To keep himself and his team motivated, Demola leads by example ensuring that his team members see themselves as leaders. This means giving them opportunities to take ownership of their roles, providing regular feedback and recognition for their work, and promoting a culture of continuous learning and development.

Demola also encourages open communication and teamwork within his team, ensuring that everyone’s contributions are valued and appreciated. He provides resources and support to help his team members achieve their goals and empowers them to make decisions in their areas of responsibility.

Demola classifies his goals into professional and personal goals. His professional goals are aligned with the goals of Stanbic IBTC and include:

  • Being a catalyst for economic development by empowering entrepreneurs.
  • Mentoring and raising future-ready leaders to take Stanbic IBTC to greater heights.
  • Building stronger relationships with his Stakeholders.
  • Driving strong and sustainable performance.
  • Fostering effective decision-making across the board.

Demola’s personal goals also include building a better work-life balance, creating family time, volunteering more for community development initiatives, and developing better stress management skills.

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