Without partnership and resilience, there is very little Nigeria will achieve – Akintemi

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SEGUN AKINTEMI is the chief executive officer (CEO) of Page International Financial Services. In this interview with IFEOMA OKEKE, he speaks on the firm’s innovative approach amid a challenging business environment and how it is meeting the needs of client.

As the CEO of Page Financials, what are the factors that inspire you?

I get a lot of inspiration from long walks through my neighbourhood. It is always a breath of fresh air, intriguing and different. Inspiration, truly, is everywhere. You just need to open your eyes a little bit to see it all around you. I am fascinated by relationships of all types–happy ones, complicated ones, unusual ones. I am also inspired by risk. Starting something new, innovative and radically different gets my heart and creativity pumping. This translates into what we do as Page with focus on efficiency and innovation across all our platforms and touchpoints.

Can you tell us about Page as a company and some of the successes you have achieved?

Page Financials represents empowerment and opportunities to our customers, and we hope to extend this to other Nigerians. We realise that access to finance is sometimes the difference between a great idea and its actualisation, whether it is getting a postgraduate degree, moving homes or expanding a business. And we have been there for well-meaning Nigerians who can achieve these targets and settle their obligations over a convenient period of time. At Page Financials, we always strive to surpass the needs and expectations of the customers, enhancing their financial decisions for improved lifetime value. Our service has always been anchored on convenience to the extent that we are able to provide services within the easy reach of customers. We filled a yawning gap that enabled quick and easy access to funds and thus aided economic growth for individuals and in turn the economy. While the COVID19 pandemic was a setback for a lot of people, we realised the importance of partnership and support through trying times. We ensured we were providing 24-hour services to customers irrespective of their needs. A lot of platforms were also created for interaction and communication with reference to business/financial advisory which was very critical to kickstarting the economy.

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What is the idea behind your ‘Together’ campaign?

The COVID-19 global humanitarian and economic crises have forced individuals and companies to rapidly change how they live and work. Customer experience has, therefore, taken on a new meaning. The ‘ Together’ campaign emphasises how we at Page are approaching customer experience by creating seamless, convenient and more engaging customer journeys with their needs shifting dramatically towards more essential concerns. The first step for us, obviously, was to stabilise operations and safeguard our own employees. We have achieved this by not just providing a safe and secure workplace but also ensuring that staff working from the office or remotely have secure and unfettered access to resources while not compromising their physical and mental well-being. We are going beyond just telling our customers that we are here for them to consciously demonstrate empathy in the way our services are provided. Innovation remains our core value which ensures convenience for the customer. We are also providing pragmatic and flexible solutions to help alleviate any financial challenge they may have. Our digital channels have been providing a roundthe-clock support to customers thus enabling a drastic reduction of physical interaction in accordance with the guidelines. These resources have, however, been structured to ensure every customer gets a personalised attention and care irrespective of their touch/contact point. With a resilient workforce partnering with customers, we would always achieve a lot together.

How has your organisation faired amid economic downturn and COVIA-19?

The ramifications of COVID-19 continue to ripple across the world, with the health pandemic triggering the greatest global economic crisis since the 1930s. The IMF’S latest World Economic Outlook suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic will cost the world economy $28 trillion in lost output over the next five years while the ILO predicts severe disruption of labour markets for the foreseeable future. Just like companies around the world, Page was also affected particularly during the lockdown. It was, however, a good opportunity to implement our business continuity measures that ensured that our staff were still working round the clock to provide service to customers. As a leading player in the service-based financial sector, the need for us to remain nimble and technologically adept was significantly emphasised with the full-blown effect of the pandemic. We were able to still provide access to finance to our teeming customers across the country using our touchpoints across our mobile app, website and digital channels.

How have you differentiated yourself from competitors?

Our service delivery approach has been seen to be the most responsive. Our engagement centre is open round the clock to attend to customer needs and complaints – with my colleagues attending to all our various channels providing swift response. With this, we achieve at least 95 percent immediate resolution on all complaints that come in irrespective of the time of the day. Convenience is at the peak of our promises to customers. With our innovative technology resources, we ensure that all customer requests can be completed end-to-end from the comfort of their homes and offices while being provided with real-time updates on the status of their requests. Our employees have been trained and retrained to provide and demonstrate competence, courtesy, credibility, reliability, and responsiveness in every interaction. All of these significantly result in the insignificant TAT we offer in providing services to customers.

ao you think the theme of this year’s NES ‘Building Partnership for Resilience’ is apt considering the challenges confronting the country?

The COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath of economic upheaval that followed now more than ever demonstrated the need for countries to solidify partnerships for growth. Highlighting ‘Building Partnership for Resilience’ as the theme of this year’s summit presents a clear picture of where we are as a country and the strides that need to be taken to surmount the challenges we are currently facing. I think there is no better time to build resilience particularly within the system than now. Partnership has always been something we as a country continue to lack. For us in Nigeria, I think the aftermath of the pandemic has shown us that without partnership and resilience, there is very little we will be able to do. This topic, if well-articulated and executed, will address key issues. The things that dissuaded us over the last few years from partnering are the things that the summit should focus on. Our regulators have to be active participants here to ensure they lead the drive for partnership which would clear the path for growth in innovation and in turn result in resilience against any ill wind.

With companies facing the impact of COVIA-19 and aftermath of # ENDSARS protests, how should the summit address some of these issues?

The mandate of the Economic Summit itself is clear and I believe the mandate is to drive reforms in our economy. The summit has succeeded in playing a very strategic role in becoming the bridge between the government and the private sector. It is fitting that the opening plenary topic of the Summit is ‘Nigeria’s Turning Point.’ Looking at the topic of the summit for this year, you will realise that as a country, we need to articulate a very sustainable policy plan which will simplify and ensure outcomes can be efficiently measured. At 60, we need to redirect our approach because a lot of the economic policies that we have been putting in place have remained largely unimplemented. In the age of economic and physical lockdown brought about by the global coronavirus pandemic, it is also critical to consider counting the economic impact of COVID-19 as a vital topic of discussion. We need unity to drive our resilience and ensure that we can work together in terms of policy formulation and implementation, which are where our biggest issues are. If we implement our policies well, we will be able to make some appreciable progress.