By: Anthony Sedzro
A career banker, customer service professional, married woman, ordained pastor, women’s advocate and the president of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIB) Ghana. Currently, she is the head of Corporate Communications for Anglophone West Africa, Ecobank. In this wide-ranging interview, Patricia Sappor speaks to GB&F about the CIB, banking industry, love for God’s work and how managing one’s time is key to success in life.
In November 2016, history was made when Reverend Patricia Sappor was elected as the first female president of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIB) Ghana. Prior to this, Rev. Sappor occupied the vice president position. The Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIB) Ghana trains and certifies professional bankers in Ghana and has been in existence for about 40 years.
After more than three decades in the banking sector, Rev. Sappor’s achievements within the industry are merited.
With her strong faith in God and also as a Reverend Minister at the Action Chapel International, it is no surprise that her speech is punctuated with references to God.
It is exactly a year since Rev. Sappor was elected to head the CIB. How has it been thus far?
“Being the President of the Institute has been so fulfilling because I have been able to achieve some of my goals for the Institute,” she said.
She continues: “I have been actively associated with the Institute for a long time and contributed in a lot of ways to the development of CIB. Being at the helm of affairs actually reinforces my commitment to the institute and what I want to do. I think it’s been very interesting and fulfilling, though challenging.”
Women have played prominent roles in Ghana’s banking industry, including occupying the positions of Chief Executive Officers, so, it was surprising that the CIB had not had a female president all this while.
“I think the opportunity hadn’t come for women to occupy the position for that length of time because, to assume that position, one needs to be involved in the Institute and demonstrate a lot of commitment. Though other ladies had equally shown great commitment, I believe it was time for God to use a woman to make an impact and He chose me afterI played certain keys roles in the CIB” she explains.
The CIB Ghana was established in 1978. Currently, it has over 1000 professionally-certified bankers and over 5,000 student members. Share your vision for the Institute.
“My passion is to contribute to the training of Chartered Bankers, that is, ACIBs or Professional Bankers to support the Banking Industry, and the Microfinance sector as well,” Rev. Sappor said.
There have been issues with the Microfinance Industry in terms of institutional collapses, poor investment decisions and loss of depositor’s funds. According to Rev Sappor, her vision is to assist the microfinance sector better position themselves to contribute to the development of the economy.
Also, to support the Central Bank and the government to strengthen the capacity of the microfinance sector, she adds: “We have other short courses to enhance knowledge in banking and strengthen the capacity staff of the microfinance sector.” For the microfinance companies, CIB’s plan is to provide tailor-made courses that will best suit their core needs as far as banking training is concerned which will improve their contribution to the economy.”
Some analysts believe that bank staff today need to go through the rigours of banking education and training in order to attain the professionalism required for the financial Industry. Rev. Sappor seems to agree with this, and encouraged more non-professional bankers to enrol for the CIB course to become Chartered Bankers/ACIB holders.
“…Professional certification is very key to the output, knowledge and understanding of banking. It gives you a broader perspective and understanding of the various aspects of banking.
Though one can work in a bank and not be a Chartered Banker, a Professional Banker comes with a broader and holistic understanding of banking and can contribute in diverse ways to the institution. Secondly the ethics of banking taught by the Institute places a lot of demand on the Chartered Banker to conform to the ethics of the profession,” she comments.
In August, the Bank of Ghana (BoG) withdrew the licenses of two Ghanaian Banks – UT Bank and Capital Bank due to liquidity problems, a decision that the BoG said was meant to protect depositors’ funds and safeguard the banking system. As regrettable as the decision was, the CIB President said it was a necessary one.
“The action taken by the Central Bank was the best and we [the CIB] endorse that action for the liquidation of the affected banks because the BoG has the responsibility of protecting depositor’s funds, Rev. Sappor says.
We know that the Central Bank made efforts to salvage the situation of these defunct banks over the period, but unfortunately the banks could not recapitalise and so we are of the view that the reasons for their liquidation are tenable.”
Many have argued that with a 28 million population, Ghana cannot have 35 universal banks because they are too many. The BoG last month increased the minimum capital requirements for universal banks from GH¢120 million to GH¢400 million, believing that this will allow for mergers which will reduce the number of banks and make them stronger and able to undertake big-ticket transactions.
Others have argued for different capital requirements for different banks offering specialised products, e.g. Construction Bank focusing on infrastructure, HFC Bank specialising in mortgages, and ADB bank supporting Agriculture.
“My take, and that of the CIB, was that we should not have a one-size fits all, but rather the capitalisation should be tiered,” she suggests.
“There should be Large banks, Medium-sized banks and Small banks, such that, the capital required for each tier will be different,” Rev. Sappor posited. “The foreign banks have some kind of parental support so may be able to meet the capital adequacy, but the indigenous banks could have a challenge.
We however also understand the position of the Central Bank that, to operate as a bank, whether Big, Medium or Small, the bank will require the minimum capital of the Ghc400 million to comfortably operate.
We are therefore aligned with the Central bank on this position.” Rev. Sappor added.
The Government set up a Treasury Single Account (TSA) last year, meant to consolidate Government Bank Accounts and improve transparency. All banks are supposed to close any Government accounts they hold and transfer them to the BoG. What is the view of the CIB on this?
‘We believe this is a step in the right direction though it could adversely affect some banks. The Government should be able to use its own funds rather than borrow at a cost.
Time management and success
The changing role of the modern woman means many of them are no longer stay-home mothers as was before but they rather juggle careers, marriage and even schooling. Not only is Rev. Sappor the President of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, she is a top Executive at Ecobank, a Pastor at the Action Chapel International, a Counsellor, and is married with 3 children. Indeed, she is the author of a 132-page book on Christian marriage titled: The Christian Woman (Secrets to Enjoying Your Marriage).
GB&F asked how she manages her time with all these responsibilities
“Life is a journey, a long journey indeed, and at any point in time, one thing may be very important to you. That should be your focus and your priority at that moment.
I have been married by God’s grace, for quite some time. I didn’t start doing all the things simultaneously after I got married. It wasn’t possible because I was looking after the children, my home, work, and so on.” She continues: “One always needs to have a vision and a goal. I knew what I wanted to beand with time and by God’s grace, He helped me. Subsequently, as the children were growing, the domestic burden lightened giving me the opportunity to spend more time on other activities especially church activities – doing a lot more counselling, preaching and engaging in other spiritual activities.
Thus, I will say that managing time has always been a major factor. I identify what is important, what is priority and spend my time on those, appropriately delegating where necessary, since there are certain things I need not do myself”.
The CIB President thinks young people must optimize their time in order to be successful in life. She gave a scenario which made her change her attitude to time. After working for the defunct Bank for Housing and Construction for some time, Rev. Sappor travelled to the United Kingdom (UK) and trained for five years at the City Banking College.
Whiles in the UK, I lived with my sister and I recollect one day, I had to go to work and school. I looked through the window and it was snowing heavily so I told my sister I would not be able to go to school nor work, Rev. Sappor narrates.
My sister said to me “Pat here in the UK, we do not do things based on the weather but based on time. Please it’s time to leave, please leave”. The import was that the weather should not be in the way of what I want to achieve or what is important to me. That really was a wake-up call to me and it changed my attitude to life. My hard work played a part as well, she says.
Irrespective of the challenges, if things must be done they must be done within a specified time. No room for excuses and that really has helped me,” Rev Sappor said. The CIB President is also an Independent Certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker with The John Maxwell Team. The John Maxwell Team is a group of certified coaches, trainers and professionals trained to inspire, challenge and equip individuals and organisations to live out leadership and reach their potential.
The 7th of 10 children, Rev. Patricia Sappor’s mother was an industrious Businesswoman, and her father, a Civil Servant. She credits her mother’s multiple skills and training to her own life. “My mother was very industrious, she engaged in different kinds of businesses – from baking bread, making soap, batiks, wigs and bags, among others. She was a Lay Preacher too and I believe by God’s grace I took after my mother naturally.”
How can women in the corporate sector rise to the top?
“By strength shall no man prevail, and it is not he that willeth or he that runneth, it is God that showeth mercy,” Rev. Sappor quoted Romans 9:16 from the Bible to emphasise her point.
Deuteronomy 8:18 says “Remember the Lord, thy God for it is He that gives thee the power to make wealth,” so it is God who will create the opportunity but you also have your side of the bargain to play and that has to do with you knowing who you are, knowing your purpose, your commitment, attitude, willingness to be selfless, going the extra mile, and making a difference between you and your colleagues, she advises.
The Reverend Minister
The President of CIB is an ordained Minister of God’s Word at the Action Chapel International, where Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams presides. She is also the President of the Women in Action (the Women’s Ministry of the church).
She preaches, counsels and mentors, especially, young women. As someone who grew up in a Christian home, she says she looks forward to working for God full-time, grooming, and equipping young ladies with skills that will enable them to be confident financially, socially and spiritually when she retires from banking.
“Well, this is something I am looking forward to, however, I am available for any assignment from my Archbishop. I believe that, whenever I retire, I will make more time to share the word of God, counsel people, encourage the younger ones and share some skills secrets and lessons of life with them.”
The desire to mentor younger ones led to the writing of her book. It was aimed at guiding couples, especially women, on how to have a happy and lasting relationship. “I wrote that book because I had engaged in marriage counselling for a long time and I knew some of the challenges of young people,” she explains.
When they heeded the counsel I gave them it worked; and so, one day, God said to me: “why don’t you put all these things in a book? You know, you can best influence people and impact their lives when you share your own life experience with them,” she says.
Finally, she had this to say to the young ones: “Everyone has a gift or a talent. Challenges are normal. Women have the ability to achieveso much and anybody can be somebody. Once you have the determination, you will definitely get there because God has given us whatever we need to be as big as He God is. Make Good use of your Time. We all have limitless abilities and capabilities”.
A Few points on Managing your Time
An excerpt from her book- the Christian Woman: Secrets to Enjoying your marriage:
“Deborah [in the Bible] was a Judge, the first female “Supreme Court” Judge. She judged Israel for 40 years. She was a wife, a mother and a prophetess. The question is, how did she successfully manage all these roles? The answer lies in proper management of time.”