Herbert Wigwe is the current Group Managing Director/CEO of Access Holdings Plc, who strategically led the transition of Access Bank Plc. in Access Holdings Plc.

Leading a formidable team, Wigwe transformed the bank into a financial conglomerate that today occupies a prominent position in the country’s banking and financial sector.

Over the past 26 years, Access Corporation, headed by Wigwe, has grown from an obscure Nigerian bank into a world-class African financial institution. Today, the bank is one of the five largest banks in Nigeria in terms of assets, loans, deposits and branch network; a feat that was achieved through a strong, long-term approach to client solutions – delivering engaged and innovative advice, according to the bank.

Access Bank has built its strength and success in corporate banking and is now applying this expertise to the personal and business banking platforms it acquired from the International Commercial Bank of Nigeria in 2012. The bank has spent two years integrate the business, invest in infrastructure and strengthen the product. to offer.

A processor, Wigwe began his professional career at Coopers & Lybrand Associates, an international firm of chartered accountants. He spent over 10 years at Guaranty Trust Bank Plc where he managed multiple portfolios including financial institutions, large corporates and multinationals.

He left Guaranty Trust Bank as Executive Director to co-lead the transformation of Access Bank Plc in March 2002 as Deputy Managing Director. He was appointed Group Managing Director/CEO effective 1 January 2014 and held this position until May 2022. He was then appointed Non-Executive Director (NED) of the Bank effective May 2022.

Wigwe is an alumnus of Harvard Business School’s Executive Management Program. He holds a Masters in International Banking and Finance from the University College of North Wales, a Masters in Financial Economics from the University of London and a B.Sc. degree in Accountancy from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN). Wigwe is Chairman of Access Bank (UK) Limited and Non-Executive Director of Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company Plc; FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange; Shared Agents Network Expansion Facilities (SANEF) Limited and Agri-Business/PME Enterprises Investment Scheme. He is also a board member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).

How it started (1988 – 2001)

On December 19, 1988, Access Bank obtained a banking license. On February 8, 1989, the bank was incorporated as a private commercial bank. On March 24, 1998, Access Bank became a public limited company. On May 11, 1989, Access Bank commenced operations at its head office in Burma Road, Apapa. On November 18, 1998, the bank was listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and on February 5, 2001, Access Bank obtained a universal banking license from the CBN.

In March 2002, the Board appointed Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede as Managing Director/General Manager and Herbert Wigwe as Deputy Managing Director. The mandate was clear: to reposition the bank as one of Nigeria’s leading financial institutions within five years (March 2002 to March 2007).

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The impact of the transformation program was reflected from the first year. The bank expanded its balance sheet by 100% and recorded an impressive profit of N1 billion before tax. The profit before tax was higher than the cumulative profit made by the bank over the previous 12 years. It also marked the start of what would be a record six-year triple-digit growth trend. Similarly, earnings per share had rebounded to 21 kobo from a negative 2 kobo position, leading to the declaration of a 5 kobo dividend to shareholders for the first time in three years.

Recognizing the role of a strengthened capital structure, the Bank embarked on a capital raising exercise in July 2007. The exercise was an astonishing success, registering an oversubscription of more than 300%. The public offering consisted of a $250 million over-the-counter GDR placement that was also oversubscribed by 700%. The bank’s shareholder fund today stands at over N240 billion with an expanded shareholder base of over 1,000,000 domestic and foreign investors.

Access Bank is constantly looking for ways to expand its service platform across the African continent. The bank currently operates through a network of approximately 366 branches in major cities and trading centers in Nigeria, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Our expansion strategy is deliberate and disciplined, focusing on five key principles,” Wigwe said during a media presentation earlier this year.

Last month, Access Corporation, the parent company of Access Bank Plc, acquired a Kenyan bank with about 15 billion naira ($37 million).

“This growth transaction implemented in Kenya represents the relentless focus and execution of our strategic objectives within our banking subsidiary, even as we grow the other businesses within Access Corporation’s core segments,” said said Wigwe.

Further commenting, he said, “The acquisition of Sidan is a significant increase in scale and potential for Access Bank in Kenya, which represents the largest market and trade corridor in East Africa. The significant increase in scale and customer base provides us with tremendous opportunities to support the growth of the various ecosystems we are building across our commerce and payment businesses. The resulting economies of scale will continue to drive and improve contributions to all stakeholders. »

Access Bank targets new markets based on an assessment of the opportunity to support trade through its core competencies in trade finance.

This approach to expansion, he said, was supported by a comprehensive strategy designed to serve as a trade and payment gateway for Africa to the world.

Financial performance

The holding company’s early financial results showed a strong performance in the first quarter of the year. The HoldCo became operational in March 2022 and the other verticals (excluding Banking Group) are expected to become operational in the second half.

“As such, the results reflect the sustainable business model coupled with the effective execution of the banking group’s strategy as it currently operates, as we made solid progress towards achieving our strategic objectives. We achieved a 33% year-on-year growth in gross profit to N295.7 billion in the first quarter (Q1) of 2022, from N222.1 billion in 2021, leading to an improvement in profit after tax to 57, 4 billion naira in the first quarter of 2022 compared to 52.5 billion naira in 2021. Consequently, the company’s return on average equity (ROAE) stood at 21.4%, which corresponds to its commitment to its stakeholders.

Asset quality remained stable at 4.0% thanks to a strong risk management approach. This trend is expected to decline in the future as the company strives to meet and exceed the standard it set in the industry prior to the business combination in 2019.

“We maintained strong capital, well above regulatory levels, with a Basel II capital adequacy ratio of 23.5%. This reflects deliberate measures to optimize our balance sheet and ensure that the Group can support its customers in different markets and adequately execute our expansion strategy. 2022 is a pivotal year for our franchise, as we complete our 2018-2022 corporate strategic plans.

“During the year, we will focus on a disciplined execution of our strategy to drive efficiency and operational excellence across all segments, grow revenue and increase profitability, with increased emphasis on risk management practices and a disciplined cost containment structure,” said Wigwe.

Access Corporation continued to post strong and resilient results. In 2021, the bank’s gross revenue increased by 27% year-on-year to N971.9 billion in fiscal 2021 from N764.7 billion in 2020, interest and non-interest income interests contributing 62% and 38% respectively.

Profit before tax for the period increased by 40% year-on-year to N176.7 billion in 2021 from N125.9 billion in 2020. Profit after tax also increased by 51% year-on-year to 160.2 billion naira in 2021 from 106.0 billion naira. billion in 2020.

The group’s asset base remained strong and resilient with total assets of 11.7 trillion naira in December 2021, a 35% year-on-year growth from 8.7 trillion naira in fiscal 2020 Customer deposits totaled 7.0 trillion naira in December 2021. December 2021 (December 2020: 5.6 billion naira) Net loans and advances totaled 4.4 billion naira in December 2021, compared to 3.6 trillion naira in December 2020. The non-performing loan (NPL) ratio stood at 4.0% in December 2021, one percent above the December 2020 level.

“We maintained strong capital and liquidity positions, well above regulatory levels with a Basel II capital adequacy ratio of 24.5% and a liquidity ratio of 51.0%. This positions the Bank to support our clients in diverse markets and adequately execute our expansion strategy,” said Wigwe.

“Our outlook for 2022 is deliberate and disciplined, with a focused focus on expansion and growth,” he said.

Access Corporation began operations as a holding company (HoldCo) with four subsidiaries. Subsidiaries include LenCo, consisting of consumer lending and agency banking, PayCo – payment and transfer services, InsureCo consisting of insurance brokerage and wealth management, and Other, e.g. pension assets, among others.


The bank has received numerous awards from various organizations for its strong business performance. One such award is Best Bank Nigeria, awarded by EMEA Finance African Banking Awards. Others include, ‘Best Digital Bank in Africa, by Euromoney Awards, Banker of the Year, by African Banker Awards, Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria International Banker Awards, Outstanding Leadership in Green Loans, Africa Global Finance – Sustainable Finance Awards, and Best FX Services in Africa EMEA Finance Treasury Services Awards, among others.