This brand audit provides a comprehensive analysis of GCB bank’s presence in the Ghanaian banking and financial industry to yield recommendations on how the bank can improve its positioning by developing digital products tailored to meet the needs of youths in Ghana. Therefore, the objectives of the business audit are to highlight its position in the industry, evaluate current marketing strategies, and investigate consumer perceptions. These objectives were achieved through an integrated marketing and product analysis as the bank offers a wider variety of banking and financial services. The findings highlight the effectiveness of its acquisition strategy to dominate and increase its market share amid increasing competition in the highly segmented Ghanaian banking and financial industry.
GCB Bank Limited, formerly known as Ghana Commercial Bank, is the largest indigenous bank in Ghana in terms of share of industry deposits and total operating assets. The bank controls 14.2% of total industry deposits, thus allowing it to dominate the domestic banking industry. In 1953, the bank was founded as the Bank of Gold Coast with only 27 employees. Its initial focus was serving Ghanaian farmers, traders and business people who were not eligible for financing from the expatriate banks. Four years later, in 1957, when Ghana attained its independence, the bank was rebranded to Ghana Commercial Bank with a strong focus on commercial banking (GCB Bank, 2020). The government of Ghana owned the bank in the formative years, but years preceding 1996 so government shareholding declined to 51.17%. Therefore, the government-owned slightly above the required controlling shareholding when the bank was listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange in 1996. After trading for 17 years as Ghana Commercial Bank, the bank was rebranded as a second time to GCB Bank ltd. Over the years, the bank has expanded its product portfolio to serve the needs of a wide range of consumers, including parastatal companies, large corporations, small and medium enterprises as well as individuals. Its expanding broad portfolio is supported by a large workforce of 1,532 employees spread across 184 branches in 10 regions of the Republic of Ghana. In December 2018, the bank reported shareholders’ equity equivalent to GHS 1.3 billion and total bank assets valued at GH¢9.7 billion.
The objective of the present brand audit is to employ some of the elective tools learnt throughout the course to evaluate GCB Bank’s industry presence in relation to its competitors. The aim is to highlight the strengths weaknesses opportunities and threats facing the bank provide suggestions to enhance the brand’s position in the market.
The bank has positioned itself over the years to provide a wide range of banking services to government parastatals, large corporations, small and medium-sized companies as well as individuals. The bank’s brand product profile is divided into four categories, namely, personal banking, business banking, services and investor relations. Under the personal banking category, the bank offers individual customers current accounts, savings account and personal loans (Benjamin-Addy, 2013). Current accounts enable individual customers to plan their income by allowing maximum flexibility with instant access to their funds. The current account is designed to enhance total convenience for professionals, clubs, societies and sole proprietors. Meanwhile, savings accounts enable users to plan for their future by earning interest on their balance.
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On the other hand, the business banking category is designed to offer solutions to a wide range of businesses. Therefore, this category includes SME solutions and business accounts. Some of the SME solutions provided by the bank include short to medium term loans that include overdraft facilities, bulk trash collection, savings, deposit, current and foreign Exchange account. The bank also offers business debit cards, payroll solutions, bills for collections, letters of credit, import and export finance, Insurance Solutions, boards and guarantees, and corporate internet banking. Lastly, the third category focuses on services such as tariff guide, electronic banking, money transfer, loans and overdraft (GCB Bank, 2020). Finally, the fourth category of products is designed with investor relations in mind to provide group results. The brand portfolio has expanded over the years to include online services aimed at supporting e-commerce.
In the fiscal year 2019, GCB bank posted a 27% increase in profit after ten months of sustained growth. According to the 2019 annual financial report, the bank’s profit increased to GH¢161.4 million in September 2019 from GH¢153.4 million in September 2018. Beside sustained growth in profits, the bank’s revenue growth was also very strong, growing by an average of 24.8% year-on-year to settle at GH¢1.13 billion (GCB Bank, 2019). The growth in revenue was 6.2% higher than in 2017. The growth in revenue is attributed to the bank’s expansion of its earning assets and acquisition of two local banks, namely UT Bank and Capital bank. The banks’ assets were absorbed by GCB bank, effectively increasing its market share by 5%. However, even though the bank was able to reduce its cost of funding in comparison to its peers, the cost was 0.72% higher than the industry average. It is worth noting that expensive deposits contributed 43.6% year-on-year increase to GH¢7.15 billion for the fiscal year 2019 (GCB Bank, 2019). Advances and loans also grew by more than 66% year-on-year to GH¢2.12 billion while the bank registered 42.5% increase in investment securities to settle at GH¢4.18 billion (GCB Bank, 2019). This was pivotal in ensuring that interest income growth sustained two-digit growth at 22.4% year-on-year to settle at GH¢988.25 million. However, the bank’s capital adequacy ratio decreased by 5% to 18.0% for the fiscal year 2019, while its non-performing loans were the lowest in the industry at 5%. As a result, the bank was able to maintain the minimum capital requirement of GH¢100 million by recording GH¢500 million in stated capital.
GCB bank is the largest bank in Ghana; therefore, it leverages its position in the market to serve clients across all ten regions in Ghana with its 184 branches. It has developed products for different consumer groups to increase its market capitalization from the rapidly developing economy of the West African nation. Its position in the market has also enabled it to acquire smaller banks such as the Trust bank, Capital bank and UT bank (Jeffreys, 2012). However, the bank’s brick and mortar business model is facing competition from technology-based mobile-banking providers that have increased credit access to anyone with a mobile phone. Nevertheless, the bank can tap into the rapidly expanding e-commerce industry sector in Ghana by providing SME solutions tailored to the banking needs of the new generation entrepreneurs. This will enable the bank to respond proactively to the increasing threat of international banks that are acquiring local banks to gain access to the domestic market.
The Ghanaian banking and finance industry is highly segmented with numerous banking and financial institutions offering diverse products and services. In total, the Ghanaian banking and finance industry is a composite of 28 private banks all served by the Bank of Ghana as the country’s central monetary authority. In the highly segmented Ghanaian banking and finance industry, GCB Bank Limited is the largest bank controlling 14.2% of the market (African Financials , 2018). However, it faces close competition from Ecobank Ghana, which has 77 branches and employs 1,611 staff. It is followed in the third position by Zenith bank of Ghana with 34 business locations as well as several ATMs and POS terminals. The rest of the competitors include Barclays Bank of Ghana, Agricultural Development Bank, Unibank Ghana, Fidelity Bank of Ghana, National Investment bank, universal Merchant Bank Ghana Limited, and Societe Generale Ghana Limited.
The bank offers a wide range of banking and financial products and services to individuals, large corporations, government parastatals, small and medium-sized businesses. Its broad product portfolio enables the bank to serve different consumer groups by offering products and services that are tailored to the needs of the target consumers (GCB Bank, 2019). The bank targets consumers with personal banking solutions such as current account savings account and loans. It has also developed business banking products for private and public businesses, both large and small. As a result, it has become the bank of choice for large corporations, government parastatals, and medium/small-sized businesses.
It provides unrivalled banking and financial solutions that match the business and corporate requirements of the target market. Therefore, irrespective of whether it’s a start-up, entrepreneur, sole trader, small or medium business or a national or international corporation, the bank has developed tailor-made banking and financial products and services for this consumer market. Over the years, the bank has developed several products and services for this consumer group such as deposit, savings, current, and foreign exchange accounts, bulk trash collection, payroll solutions, business debit card, short-term to medium-term loans as well as overdraft facilities. In addition, the bank provides import and export finance, bills for collection, insurance solutions bonds and guarantees, corporate internet banking as well as local and international money remittance and transfer.
The bank has managed to maintain a strong brand appeal across dual gender audience of all ages from 13 years and above. It has developed products for every consumer group ranging from students to business people to corporate investors and large corporations. As a government-owned commercial bank, it has a civic duty of providing banking and financial services for all consumer groups to support the growth and development of Ghana’s economy (GCB Bank, 2019). For instance, the majority of student loans for both public and private university are remitted through the bank. The bank’s positioning in the Ghanaian banking and financial industry allows it to facilitate the flow of foreign direct investment as well as export and import business.
The marketing aspect of the banking enterprise is conducted through traditional and digital marketing tools and techniques. Since the bank was founded 60 years ago, it has relied mainly on print and broadcast media to communicate its marketing message. It has sponsored advertisement on newspapers magazine as well as radio and television to reach the target audience. The bank continues to use traditional marketing approach despite embracing digital marketing tools such as social media. The digital aspect of marketing is conducted through its website and social media. The bank has an interactive website that allows the customers to access secured banking services online via the Internet banking portal. As the largest bank in Ghana, controlling 14.2% of the market share, the bank is keen on increasing its coverage to throttle to the growth of smaller banks. Therefore, besides its strong positioning with 184 branches spread across Ghana’s ten administrative regions, the website is optimized to serve tech-savvy consumers, especially the millennials who represent the largest percentage of young adults in Ghana (Benjamin-Addy, 2013). The secured Internet banking portal is designed to prevent consumers from shifting to online payment systems such as PayPal, Transferwise and Skrill. The bank has also embraced social media as a digital marketing tool to reach and actively engage an increasing number of Internet users interested in banking services. Close to 19 million Ghanaians have access to the Internet; therefore, the bank utilizes different social media platforms to create awareness and market its banking and financial services and products.
The bank’s brand architecture is dualistic in nature as it operates under two brand names. GCB bank limited is the brand name associated with its brick and mortar business. Prior to the introduction of the secured Internet banking portal, the bank had developed a legacy of products that can only be accessed from its physical offices. Personal and business banking solutions are provided across 184 branches and the Internet banking portal (Jeffreys, 2012). Meanwhile, mobile banking services are provided under the brand name G-Money. Anyone with a mobile phone can access the bank’s mobile banking services by dialling *422#.
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A brand survey conducted by the bank in 2018 revealed that customers associate the brand with sincerity and dependability. The bank’s is recognized as being sincere about its products and services by providing relevant information (GCB Bank, 2020). Unlike its competitors, there are no hidden charges that the customers are not aware of. In addition, the brand is also considered thoughtful in developing products oriented towards family values. There is a banking solution for every member of the family from junior accounts for children to deposits, current and savings accounts for adults. Customers also perceive the bank as dependable because it provides insurance products that support businesses and personal issues such as education and health. The dependability aspect of the brand personality is integrated in the logo as an eagle. Eagles are able to fly alone at high attitudes and have a strong vision reflecting the bank’s ability to remain focused on the needs of the customers. In achieving its broad mission, the bank is guided by a mantra of becoming the leading provider of banking and financial services in the Ghanaian market.
The Ghanaian banking and financial industry is highly segmented, with over 28 private banks providing diverse services to different consumer groups (Corporate Financial Institute , 2020). Over the past five years, the bank has faced increasing competition from the top 10 banks in Ghana which include Ecobank Ghana, Barclays Bank of Ghana, Zenith Bank of Ghana, National Investment bank, and Agricultural Development Bank. The others are Fidelity bank of Ghana, Unibank Ghana, universal Merchant Bank Ghana Limited, and Societe Generale Ghana Limited (Corporate Financial Institute , 2020).
The bank has done a great job of increasing investor and consumer knowledge by providing relevant information on its website. The website contains relevant information such as the bank’s mission strategies and annual finance reports that are written in a language understandable by anyone. The website also provides quick facts about the bank’s performance to promote transparency and accountability. However, a random survey of the bank’s consumers revealed that they knew very little about the bank’s performance in the market (Jeffreys, 2012). The observation was attributed to lack of initiative among consumers to find out the bank’s finance information to understand its performance in the Ghanaian banking and financial industry. In most cases, the consumers learn about the bank’s performance in recent news bulletin.
The bank has over the years extensively expanded the depth and breadth of its brand awareness through its multi-channel marketing approach. A combination of traditional and digital marketing tools and techniques enable the brand to target and connect with different consumer groups. Traditional marketing channels such as print and broadcast media are utilized to reach consumers above the age of 40 years while digital marketing tools such as social media and the company’s website and used to reach millennials and young adults (GCB Bank, 2020). Its strong presence on social media, especially Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, has improved the brand’s association with the millennials and young adults. Thus, the bank appears well-positioned to actively engage its target consumers in the digital age, where access to the Internet is steadily increasing among Ghanaians. A random brand awareness study revealed that almost everyone in Ghana has heard about GCP Bank Limited. The most notable aspect of the brand was it focus on providing superior financial and banking services to diverse consumer groups.
The bank is facing increasing competition from technology-based payment systems such as Paypal and Skrill, therefore, it is prudent to expand its digital banking and financial services to target the youth. Currently, the bank is offering mobile banking services under the brand G-money. However, there is a need to develop an online payment platform to rival the growing popularity of international brands such Paypal and Skrill.
The bank should also embrace aggressive marketing tactics by utilizing social media to actively engage the target consumers. The social media approach will enable the bank to increase its market share by targeting young adults as well as the millennials. In addition, the print and broadcast marketing approach will be essential to reach mature adults and the elderly generation
African Financials . (2018, November 5). Ghana Commercial Bank revenue up 30.5% to GH¢1.27 billion. Retrieved from African Financials : https://africanfinancials.com/ghana-commercial-bank-revenue-up-30-5-to-gh%C2%A21-27-billion/
Benjamin-Addy, E. (2013). The banking sector in Ghana: issues in relation to current reforms. Hamburg: Anchor Academic Pub.
Corporate Financial Institute . (2020). Top Banks in Ghana. Retrieved from Corporate Financial Institute : https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/careers/companies/top-banks-in-ghana/#:~:text=Ghana’s%20banking%20and%20finance%20industry,institutions%20and%20banks%20in%20Ghana.
GCB Bank. (2019). GCB Bank Limited Annual Report 2019. Accra: GCB Bank.
GCB Bank. (2020, August 24). Company Profile. Retrieved from GCB Bank: https://www.gcbbank.com.gh/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=72&Itemid=177
Jeffreys, A. (2012). The report : Ghana 2012. London: Oxford Business Group.