Building resilience for Ghanaian companies – Lessons from recent failed banks

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 Source: Ernest Koranteng

The recent spate of failed organizations in the financial sector of Ghana is alarming and pondering the many economic and non-economic consequences of failed companies, I am tempted to sum up the oversights in the discourse generated by the recent development.

Many of us were drawn to facts about the Ghanaian financial sector albeit not all of it, last year when irregularities relating to activities involving UT Bank and Capital Bank came to the fore following a take over by the Bank of Ghana.

In the ensuing discourse, the learning for many of us included how Ghana’s banking sector with a staggering number of plus 30 indigenous and foreign banks compares to leading economies in Africa, South Africa and Nigeria. The two economies apparently have fewer banks (less than in South Africa and less than 20 in Nigeria).

The take over by BoG of UT and Capital banks in the last quarter of 2017 was though to be the beginning of the end of several banks in the coming months:

1. Because of a new directive by the BoG on minimum Capital Requirement for banks, increased from 120 million Cedis (27.3 million Dollars) to 400 million Cedis (91 million dollars) by December 2018.

2. A seeming absence of prudent management practices by some of these banks resulting in liquidity and several banking challenges.

You would be right to refer to this sudden directive of a minimum capital requirement a major upheaval as its set many banks frantically using approved and unapproved means to securing capital injection to meet the deadline.

Many of the more than 30 commercial banks have been operating with uncertainties since and it is no surprise that more than 8 months clear to the December 2018 deadline, Unibank Ltd has become an early casualty with a few more predicted to follow suit before end of 2018.

My interest however is fixed on the economic and non-economic effects of failed companies but as we focus on the media attention on the financial sector and its woes, it is fair to remind us all that many firms continue to fail in other industries of Ghana’s economy as well.

A company is said to have failed if it is consistently unable to meet the expectations of its stakeholders and in the case of these banks the last few months, failure to convince regulatory bodies has confined their future to avoidable uncertainties.

As we engage in the discourse of “what should have been and what shouldn’t have” let us be reminded that we could refer to these firms dying prematurely because their demise robs society and their stakeholders of future benefits.

The subject of building robustness and resilience for longevity for Ghanaian businesses is crucial for the following reasons.

The current predicaments of some of these failed companies cannot be discussed sacrosanct of its implications on other businesses and industries in the Ghanaian economy.

These financial businesses that continue to suffer failure operate in a complex industry that’s so volatile to the slightest uncertainty yet time is the only enabler of complexity.

Just like other companies, these failed banks may take decades to elaborate the simple idea of their vision into a robust operational model.

The longevity of Ghanaian companies must be of primary concern to all and sundry because as institutions, their workers and other stakeholders invest energies, time, passion, wisdom, ingenuity, and other resources so the least we expect is to be survived by these businesses they serve.

These are the reasons these companies need strategies to be resilient in order to attain these long-term aspirations.

Resilience is not what happens to a company but what it does with what happens to it and firms focused on building resilience learn from their experience and those of others.

Resilience means Strategic adaptability, agile leadership, robust corporate governance strategies, which ensures accountability across structures and hierarchies, the culture of trust and transparency, and innovation through the entire value chain of the company.

And for predecessors of Unibank Ltd and many of these failing companies, they are thinking wherever they are now that like their children, the companies they worked so hard to build and made their progenies, the least expectation is for their successors to at least treat them well, more so, honouring the legacy of the company by extending it and this is only possible when its capacity for continual renewal is improved.

Going forward, the remaining financial institutions and companies in other sectors of the Ghanaian economy must quickly establish strategies of resilience to guarantee longevity by dealing with:

1. Companies must deal with the challenge of denial and arrogance because these companies ought to be conscious of changes and requirements in their ecosystem and how it impacts their business. They must then commit perpetual adaptation.

2. These companies must create a plethora of options to attaining targets and this will deal with the overreliance on decaying strategies.

3. Companies must deal with the challenge of political dispensation and its effects by learning to balance short-term goals with long-term thinking. A resilient company does not only survive but flourishes during changing trends.

4. Companies must overcome the ideological challenge by renewing at a regular and continuous spate, harnessing experiences and embracing opportunities. Resilience is a value driver and it avoids companies from being episodic or crisis-driven.

There are decades’ old companies in different parts of the world that are churning out successes year on year and if Ghanaian companies will reach such enviable heights, the culture of building resilience must be practised with a focus on product or service excellence, process reliability, and people behaviour.

In a perpetually changing world, an interconnected global space, building resilience for a company is the ultimate competitive advantage in this age of turbulence.

Columnist: Ernest Koranteng