A Nigerian-born American academic and professor, Dr. Benjamin Ola Akande, has predicted the possibility of a Nigerian bank acquiring American bank, stressing that the novel Coronavirus Pandemic was the greatest equalizer of all time.
Dr. Akande made this remark in a recent interview with BusinessDay.ng on ‘How Nigerian businesses can thrive after the pandemic’.
Dr. Akande has an extensive career that spans both academia and the private sector. He most recently served as the President of Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont and currently serves as Senior Vice President Director, Human Resources, Diversity and Inclusion, Stifel Financial Corp. an American multinational financial services holding company headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, that conducts its banking, securities, and financial services business through several wholly owned subsidiaries.
Stifel’s broker-dealer clients are served in the United States through Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, including its Eaton Partners business division; Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, Inc.; Miller Buckfire & Co., LLC and Century Securities Associates, Inc.
Interestingly, the Nigerian American, Dr. Akande joined Stifel just just some days back. He was a professor of economics and dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology at Webster University from 2000-2015.
He also served as Chief of University Corporate Partnerships and established relationships with organizations and industries across the globe. In the private sector, Dr. Akande is a respected economist and has consulted for Fortune 500 companies in areas of strategy, leadership development, corporate responsibility, and market positioning.
Dr. Akande has served as a director of Ralcorp Holdings, Inc. and consulted for corporations such as Anheuser-Busch, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Voith, and SeaWorld. Dr. Akande also served on the Board of Argent Capital.
He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Oklahoma and completed post-doctoral studies at JFK School of Government, Harvard University and Saïd Business School at Oxford University.
When speaking, with a global perspective for Nigerian businesses, to strive as the world is coming out of pandemic, Dr. Akande said:
“What the pandemic did was put everybody at the starting line. For some of us who are students in economic strategy and positioning, so many American institutions are almost at the end of their race and some of us are just getting ready to start. We knew that it would be very difficult for us to ever catch them.
“The pandemic was the greatest equalizer of all time. It said to us: whatever you are doing, wherever you are doing, it creates real opportunities for places like Nigeria to become big themselves.
“Secondly, what the pandemic has done is to expose us to the reality that every country must identify competitive advantage.
“The competitive advantage is what you and nobody can do better than you. Every organisation or institution should find out what they are very good at and invest in that thing.
“As we move forward there are so many unique opportunities of competitive advantage in technology now that your ability to be able to bring your product or service to the market has been enhanced.
“Your ability to solve the biggest problem in the world has been enhanced. For example, the banking sector in Nigeria has been progressive and creative. I am waiting for one or two Nigerian banks to acquire an American bank. It has to happen. A first Nigerian institution that does that would be so well positioned.
“It will be a game changer in advancement of trade and the reality is; it does not have to be any of the main brands that we are familiar with. It is just to make entry into the banking sector in the United States.; just to make a small acquisition in the market and use that as a starting point to be able to establish your space in the U.S. I think the pandemic has given us the opportunity to do that”.
Speaking on investment opportunities he foresees during this post COVID-19 era, he said:
“I am seeing organisations moving quicker than I have ever seen them. They are moving so quickly that you can’t even imagine. I am seeing different layers of opportunities in technology. I am also seeing the return-to-work where people are saying that we have been down for some time. I think we are going to see in the next couple of months a bit of much acquisition where some big companies come together to form a formidable entity that would be able to move further in the post-pandemic world.
“You will the small organisations taking over some big organisations. Actually, it is something that is abnormal but with the funding opportunities out there, you can borrow to buy somebody’s stake, you will start to see move in that direction.
“You will start seeing more international engagement especially from American companies that have scattered around the world looking for opportunities and finding them.
“I will give a very good example; when you think of healthcare centres in Nigeria, what I see as possible new thing that will occur will be small and large business entities in Nigeria opening up their own clinics and instead of them sending their employees to a teaching hospital you will be able to care for them within your healthcare system. And that will do two things: Keep them loyal to you (the employer) and create a vibrant health care center within your organisation because the Federal and State governments have failed us”, he explained.
He added that investors are looking at the post-COVID-19 period differently from how they used to.
“You better go into the post-COVID-19 very differently than whatever you were doing before COVID-19 showed up. Because if you don’t you are automatically irrelevant and irrelevancy is worse than death because upon becoming irrelevant it simply means at one point you were relevant and doing well. When you become irrelevant, you are still around to see all that was taken away from you”.[Interview source: BusinessDay]