Competence-Based Approach To Competitive Advantage In The Banking Industry
This study examines empirically competence-based approach advantage in the banking industry in Nigeria. It determines the role of skills, attitude and knowledge in achieving competitive advantage in the banking industry in Nigeria. The descriptive method of research was employed to carry out this study. The primary source of data collection used to gather information. It was found that skill, attitude and knowledge played significant roles in achieving competitive advantage in Nigerian banking industry. And finally, it was recommended that customer service and turnaround time should be greatly improved to make banking easy, quick and convenient, modern queue management systems should also be employed to render excellent services to customers and the bank needs to train staff, particularly those at the frontline to be more customers – friendly and focused so as to meet and exceed the expectations of customers.
1.1 Background to the Study
Every industry including banking has an underlying structure or a set of fundamental economic and technical characteristics which give rise to competitive forces. A firm can clearly improve or erode its position within an industry through its choice of strategy. Competitive strategy, then, not only responds to the environment but also attempts to shape the environment in its favour (Porter, 1985). The strategist must therefore seek, to position his or her firm to cope best within its industry environment or to influence that environment in the firm’s favour.
Strategic management exponent Toffler (2003) writes that a company without a strategy is like an airplane weaving through the skies, hurled up and down, slammed by winds and lost in the thunder heads. If lightning or crushing winds do not destroy it, it will simply run out of fuel. In similar line of thought, Ross (2000) notes that without strategy an organization is like a ship without a rudder. It goes round in circles and like a tramp has no specific place to go.
Clearly, these statements emphasize the importance and need for far reaching dynamic and systematic strategic planning for companies to survive competition in the ever changing global competitive business environment. Ansoff (1970) argues that planning generally produces better alignment and financial results in companies which are strategically managed than those which are not. This suggests a seeming correlation between strategic planning and the ultimate performance of a company in terms of its growth, profits, attainment of objectives and sustained competitiveness (Strickland, 2004).
Though these assertions are largely true, Pitts (2003) affirm that exceptional situations also arise when some companies gain not because they had in place any strategy but because they just benefited from some sudden conditions in the external environment. For example, after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre, Pentagon and in Pennsylvania all in the United States of America, air travel within and across that country dropped drastically in favour of rail and road transport which were thought to be safer. Rail and road transporter operators therefore, enjoyed a sudden and unexpected boom.
Nonetheless, and still consistent with the need for evolving and constantly reviewing strategy, it is important to note that having a sound strategy in itself does not necessarily translate into desired performance goals if it is not properly implemented. Both strategy and implementation must be good and timely to achieve positive results. As for a company driven by wrong strategic planning, Porter (1985) likens it to a train on a wrong track saying, “every station it comes to is the wrong station.”
These fundamental principles largely hold true for all industries globally and as should be expected, the banking industry is also subject to the dynamics of these global market trends. Against this background, the study looks at the competitive strategies for achieving competitive advantage in the banking industry.
1.2 Statement of Problem
The economic climate in Nigeria over the last decade has been relatively stable for banking business. This notwithstanding, not all the banks can be said to have performed at levels that meet industry and stakeholders’ expectations. Much as the differences in the performance levels of various companies are to be expected, it is still strongly believed that the strategies pursued by each bank largely account for its performance. The absence of well-defined competitive strategies results in weak competitive positions. This study looks at the competitive strategies being pursued by First Bank of Nigeria Plc to achieve competitive advantage in the banking industry of Nigeria. Management plays the lead role in strategic the inking, planning, decision-making and ultimate implementation of policies and strategies.
Unfortunately, some banks are perceived to have management structures that overly limit the authority to make long-term strategic decisions to a few key shareholders who may be limited in some ways. This obviously compromises the richness and diversity of the banks’ strategic planning agenda to the detriment of corporate performance.
The fear of loss of ownership control is also speculated to have inhibited the expansion of the capital base of some of the private banks. This under-capitalization has posed challenges for the hiring and retention of the needed numbers and quality of personnel, upgrading of technology and the financial capacity to insure big and complex risks.
With the inception of the Financial Sector Adjustment Programme (FINSAP), distressed banks have since the 1980s attempted to restore their profitability and become more competitive. First Bank of Nigeriawitnessed an impressive performance within the period immediately after the implementation of FINSAP, chalking 45% of the overall industry profits in 1993. However, the period after 1993 has witnessed a declining market share for First Bank of Nigeria. The bank’s market share of deposits was 38% in 1993 but has gradually declined to 17.8% in 2006, Standard Chartered Bank, however, made gains moving from 9% of the industry share of deposits in 2003 to 13.1% in 2006. First Bank of Nigeria’s return on equity of 28.7% also does not compare favourably with those of its major competitors namely; Barclays Bank, Ecobank, and Standard Chartered Bank which posted 52.1%, 43%, and 38.9% respectively in 2006 (Business & Financial Times, May 21, 2007).
Though the bank is utilizing its extensive branch network and modern technology to better its operations, the bank’s low cost strategy which is amply demonstrated in its very attractive base rates are of no use if a greater number of loan applications are not processed because of the stringent criteria and lengthy procedures. First Bank of Nigeria demands that customers deposit registered title deeds to secure loan facilities, but land registration is cumbersome, very expensive and therefore unpopular in most parts of the country.
The bank seems to be using mainly low cost leadership and a little bit of differentiation as its competitive strategy. Most of the bank’s products are reasonably priced and the bank’s charges compare favourably with those of its close competitors (i.e. Barclays Bank, Ecobank and Standard Chartered Bank). It also appears that competing on pricing alone may not be in the long-term interest of the bank as it is no longer translating into a competitive advantage for the bank. The bank has gained a very poor reputation in terms of customer service, turnaround time, poor branch ambience and bureaucratic credit processes.
This study attempts to investigate the above issues and the reasons behind the mixed performances despite huge investments in infrastructure, human capital, technology, sales and marketing activities and essential resources.
1.3 Research Questions
The study seeks to answer the following questions:
- What is the role of skills in achieving competitive advantage in the banking industry in Nigeria?
- What is the role of knowledge in achieving competitive advantage in the banking industry in Nigeria?
- What is the role of attitude in achieving competitive advantage in the banking industry in Nigeria?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The main goal of the study is to assess the strategies adopted by banks to gain competitive advantage in the banking industry with particular reference to First Bank of Nigeria.
However, specifically the study seeks to;
- Determine the role of skills in achieving competitive advantage in the banking industry in Nigeria.
- Ascertain the role of knowledge in achieving competitive advantage in the banking industry in Nigeria.
- Examine the role of attitude in achieving competitive advantage in the banking industry in Nigeria.
- Assess the sustainability of the bank’s competitive strategy
- Make recommendations to improve the competitive advantage of First Bank of Nigeria in the industry.
1.5 Statement of Hypotheses
- H0: Skills does not play any significant role in achieving competitive advantage in the Nigerian banking industry.
- H1: Skills play a significant role in achieving competitive advantage in the Nigerian banking industry.
- H0: Knowledge does not play any significant role in achieving competitive advantage in the Nigerian banking industry.
- H1: Knowledge plays a significant role in achieving competitive advantage in the Nigerian banking industry.
- H0: Attitude does not play any significant role in achieving competitive advantage in the Nigerian banking industry.
- H1: Attitude plays a significant role in achieving competitive advantage in the Nigerian banking industry.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study explored competitive strategies at the disposal of banks within the banking industry in Nigeria and is limited to First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Auchi Branch.
1.7 Significance of the Study
The researcher has the eager hope that at the end of this study, it will be useful to the following people: staff, customers and the management, who are going be beneficial to the subject matter.
This would also enable the student to be aware of the reason for being attentive in what they are taught in their field of study to enable them have knowledge, skills and attitude in the competitive banking system.
Also to the teachers, this will help them to have knowledge of the strategies by banks to enable them disseminate reliable information to their pupils all the time.
Finally, the study should be a guide to the state, local and federal government as a whole when planning for its full knowledge of the skills and attitude with regards to economic development of the nation.
1.8 Limitations of the Study
The cardinal rule of banks which does not allow information on customers, strategies and other sensitive issues to be discussed hampered efforts at getting some vital information for the study. The fear of being branded as divulging secrets would also not allow me the free hand to make certain disclosures.
Although this research work was purely an academic exercise, the bank’s Planning amid Research Department needed a lot of convincing before agreeing to assist in the electronic distribution of questionnaires, thereby wasting the limited time available for the project work.
Administering the questionnaires (a total of 400) also posed serious challenges, as most of the respondents could not complete the questionnaires on time. There was however some consolation in the fact that the bank’s intranet was put to good use in electronically distributing the questionnaires. Collating and analyzing 400 questionnaires was also no mean task, as it was time – consuming.
Last but not the least, this research work, conducted by a full time Valuation Officer of First Bank of Nigeria was concurrently done with his official duties. Notwithstanding all these limitations, the research was conducted taking advantage of the available data. However, the limitations were not drawbacks to the overall success of the study.
1.9 Definitions of Terms
This refers to the determination of the long-term goals and objectives of an enterprise and the adoption of causes of action and the allocation of resources for carrying out these goals.
This involves thinking about the future, identifying and specifying in advance (now) what has to be done or achieved (objectives) and selecting the most suitable means to accomplish these objectives.
This describes a company’s overall direction in terms of its general attitude toward growth and the management of its various businesses and product lines.
This is a systematic process by which an organization formulates achievable policy objectives for the future growth and development over the long term, based on its mission, vision and goals and on a realistic assessment of the human and material resources available to implement the plan.
This describes the firm’s aspirations of what it really wants to be.
This is defined as the effort of two or more parties acting independently to secure the business of a third party by offering the most favourable terms.
This is the management tool used in marketing and strategic management in an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of current and potential competitors.
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