As part of a commercial banking client’s portfolio optimisation exercise, two of my Nigeria team members visited the ancient town of Akure in Ondo State, 300kms East of Lagos, to conduct a site visit and opportunity assessment study on a zonal bank branch.
The concept of a bank opportunity assessment is quite straight forward – how do we optimize the current space to make for a more efficient banking location? The old pre-wireless technology banking culture in Nigeria required large “one space fits all” branches where customers could come and do simple cash withdrawals in banking halls, and more complex transactions in comfortable meeting rooms. Times have changed in Nigeria too and the banks of the future have emerged with most basic transactions now handled over laptops, cellular phones or at ATMS, requiring fewer square meterage in banks.
The site in Akure was no exception. As a historic zonal office, the branch was large with much green space for parking. The bank also included a 1 acre space with a tree that looked like the Whomping Willow, straight out of the Harry Potter Movies. “Scary!”
Upon our arrival we were well received by the branch operations manager who introduced us to the staff to guide us around the premises. Starting the site survey, it became immediately apparent that to optimise their operations in this location, the commercial banking client, would be best served by releasing a large portion of the site for sale, consolidating internal operations into the ground floor and leasing out the excess space on the 1st floor, the only other floor in the building.
Our work also required a thorough survey of the immediate environment to understand competitor characteristics, alternative location commentary as well as market trends in order to provide a detailed report and recommendation to the organisation.
The opportunity assessment exercise was a unique opportunity not only to add value to a client but also to witness and enrich our understanding of the evolution of banking practices in Nigeria.
Fun Fact: did You Know that skeletons of Homo sapiens dating to 10th Millennium BC have been found in Akure?