Ghana Commercial Bank now GCB Bank Ltd

Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB) has by a majority shareholder decision voted in a special resolution to change its name to GCB Bank Ltd, in reflection of the changing face of the bank and to enable it to command international appeal.

The vote adopting the special resolution was carried out today at the annual general meeting of the bank, with majority of those present voting in favour of the motion, except three dissenting voters.

The change of name technically becames effective but the bank has to complete paperwork at the Registrar General’s Department and also comply with other legal requirement for the name change.

The name change also coincides with the 60th anniversary of the bank, which climaxed on May 20.

At 60, the bank posted impressive results, with total income rising by 45 per cent from GH¢289 million in 2011 to GH¢418 million in 2012; profit before tax moving up by 520 per cent from GH¢31.1 million in 2011 to GH¢192.9 million last year and profity after tax going up by 695 per cent from GH¢18 million in 2011 to GH¢143 million.

The Chairman of the Board of Directors, Dr Fritz Gockel, explained that the decision to change the name of the bank was to enable the bank to take full advantage of the universal banking license the bank currently holds.

With universal banking license, the bank can engage in investment banking, advisory services, offshore banking services in addition to the consumer and corporate banking that it was so strong in.

Dr Gockel said the word “commercial” in the bank’s name created a limitation that prevented it from going the full haul within the universal banking licence it holds.

He said the name change to GCB Bank Ltd would also enable the bank to grow beyond the borders of the country and take advantage of opportunities in offshore markets.

GCB is not the only company in Ghana to have gone this way. Several names that come to mind include the change of Home Finance Company to HFC bank; State Insurance Company to SIC Insurance Company Ltd; Produce Buying Company to PBC Ltd; Unique Trust to UT Bank and so on.

In tandem with the new identity, GCB Bank will also launch a new retail environment design during the course of the year, as part of efforts to grow consumer banking to reposition the bank among the top performing banks in the country.

“We will be launching a new brand and a new retail environment design in 2013, which coincides with the bank’s 60th anniversary. These strategic initiatives are not only aimed at repositioning the bank as a modern progressive and customer-centred bank, but also prepare it for future expansion,” the Managing Director of the bank, Mr Simon Dornoo, said in his annual report to shareholders.

He said the new strategy would also make the bank a recognisible brand, as it would also diversity its revenue sources, with strong focus on consumer banking.

The MD said management and board had consulted extensively in arriving at that decision.

He explained that one of the reasons was to enable the bank to rebrand itself into an internationally recognisible and locally accepted bank that would take advantage of opportunities in offshore markets.

The passing was not without controversy. After extolling the board, management and staff for their sterling performance, the shareholders did not mince words drawing the attention of the bank to the continued abysmal customer service rendered at various GCB branches across.

“You can change the name as often as possible but not get the needed results. You need to change your character and the way you do things. If you don’t change your mindset and culture, you can go to America and your performance will be the same,” a shareholder said to a tumultuous applause from the floor.

The managing director explained that the management of the bank understood that it was about culture and that investments had already started in various aspects to changing the culture of the people, the branch outlook and the processes to make it modern.

“There is already a cultural change programme underway. It is a three-year programme that would change the culture of the people and their service orientation to customers and client services. We hope that things will completely change by the end of the third year,” Mr Dornoo said.

With the expiry of the medium term programme, he said another would be launched, which would form part of GCB’s core strategy to become one of the best banks in Africa, explaining that “locally we want our brand to be recognised, liked and accepted so that we will replicate that in other markets.” He, however, declined to name any specific markets they were interested in.

Known as the Bank of Gold Coast, the bank was set up in 1953 to be the main banker to the several state-owned enterprises and support the country’s trading activities with the outside world.

Story: Samuel Doe Ablordeppey