Rokel Commercial Bank… Bank With Excellence

 

Logo – Meaning and Purpose

The mountainous background with the letters RCB superimposed to demonstrate financial stability, permanence, strength and resilience.

Mission statement

“The mission of Rokel Commercial Bank is to provide banking and related financial services in a manner that builds strong, lasting and satisfying relationships with customers, employees, shareholders and the communities in which the bank operates.”

Overview of RCB

A leading financial service provider that every Sierra Leonean should be proud of as a symbol of indigenous managerial competence, Rokel Commercial Bank under the leadership of Walton Ekundayo Giplin occupies an envious position on the Sierra Leone commercial banking landscape. When the bank celebrated its 18th anniversary last year, he said: “We will mesmerize the market… actions and words… and make Rokel and Salone great again.”

The celebration also saw the unveiling of the bank’s new logo which is a symbol of the bank’s rebranded corporate profile pointing it towards a positive direction.

The celebration also depicted RCB’s bold march forward into a new era of bolstered performance through expanding and streamlined operations in an increasingly competitive environment.
Under Dr. Gilpin’s leadership, RCB has successful weathered the challenges of the past. Under his inspiration and guidance, the dampened spirit of the bank has caught fire and the bank is now powering along at full speed.

In the immediate years after the RUF war ended officially in 2002, Rokel Commercial bank had a chequered fortune. The advent of many well financed foreign commercial banks put Rokel Bank under considerable competitive pressure; coupled with undue political interference in its management, Rokel Bank started recording losses. Almost on the brink of collapse, the government intervened, injected new capital into it and brought onboard Dr. Gilpin to resuscitate the bank.

With Dr. Gilpin at the helm, Rokel Commercial Bank in no time made a turn around, won back the confidence of its customers and returned to profitability, which is not surprising fort those who know Dr. Gilpin.

He is a seasoned, internationally recognized financial expert with over two decades experience managing complex policies and processes in banking and banking-related institutions in Africa, Europe, South Pacific, Caribbean, and the United States.

As a senior advisor to the Commonwealth Secretariat in the United Kingdom, he managed significant fiscal reforms and debt restructuring initiatives that formed the basis of effective and sustainable reform strategies in more than 25 countries.

In this capacity, he also helped strengthen the technical and management capacity of financial sector professionals by emphasizing approaches and skill sets that bode well for institutional transformation and enduring change.

His goal-oriented professional philosophy has been a hallmark of his career. During his tenure at the Bank of Sierra Leone, he provided technical input into complex interactions with international partners, such as the International Monetary Fund, African Development Bank and World Bank and was instrumental in banking and financial research analysis having worked in the Research and International Financial Departments.

At the Commonwealth Secretariat, he supported the Secretariat’s advisory services in debt and public finance management initiatives in Commonwealth member countries and lead technical initiatives in banking and financial issues in country Missions and International Conferences.

His capacity building skills were significantly useful in designing and implementing training modules in financial analysis for public sector officials in government and Central Banking related institutions.

In private practice, Walton has served as a consultant in public finance, risk and liquidity management, bank-sovereign interdependence, to name a few. He has worked on projects for reputable organisations such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, African Development Bank and the United Nations Development Program.

He has contributed to critical thinking and intellectual development in banking, finance and debt management through reports and publications, including:- An Insight into Public Debt Portfolio Benchmarks and Targets, Domestic Borrowing and Inflation and Exchange Rate Management in Sierra Leone.

His commitment to capacity building is to mentorship and professional development throughout his career. He holds graduate degrees and professional qualifications in economics, international relations, finance and debt management. He enjoys international affairs, reading and football.”

Dr. Gilpin’s competence shows in results. When the Chairman of the National Privatization visited some of the bank’s branches last year, he discovered that many of the bank’s branches were back to profitability and show strong growth.

Latest Customer Service

On the 28th July, 2018, RCB made banking easier for its customers with the launching of the ‘Sim Korpor’. Dr. Gilpin at the ceremony noted that studies have shown that there is a dearth of banking experience in Sierra Leone with about 80% of the population not having bank accounts but that at least 76% of Sierra Leoneans, especially the youth, have a mobile phone.

“So the idea was that if people especially youth can own a phone, why not connect them to the bank through their phones and so the idea of SIM Korpor emerged,” Dr. Gilpin said, adding that “with this innovation, the ordinary okada rider, trader, street hawker, student, farmer, housewife and any other person who cannot access a bank easily to save money or to transact any other business now has the opportunity to do so through the RCB ‘SIM Korpor’ service.”

 Since his appointment, Dr. Gilpin has had as his main focus rebranding the bank physically and how it relates with the general public; as well as change the negative public perception people generally hold of banking and banks in general.

Dr. Gilpin has said that apart from rebranding the bank and how it transacts its business to make it more attractive and bring it closer to the people, he also looks at raising the moral of bank staff because their appearance before a potential customer goes a long way to impress positively or negatively. Thus, he wants ensure that bank staff gives quality work for quality conditions of service.

Sim Korpor reduces long queues at the bank. Through it, one can perform all normal transactions like withdrawing cash, paying utility bills and generally performing any transaction as long as the customer has an account with RCB.

The system is tamper proof as it has special security features make it impossible for anyone to access the account in the event the owner loses his or her phone.

Growing from strength to strength

As it grows from strength to strength, RCB remains a dominant player in the country’s finance industry, providing about 25% of all banking business in the country. It currently holds in excess of 155,000 accounts with a yearly growth of 10%.

RCB maintains correspondent banking relationships with the following: Commerz Bank in Frankfurt Germany, Ghana International Bank Plc UK, Standard Chartered Bank UK and recently entered into an agreement with Afreximbank to provide trade finance facilities for the importation of goods and services to the country through letters of credit.

As a member of the SWIFT network both internal and external remittances are guaranteed a 24 hour turnaround time.

Rokel Commercial Bank’s senior management team comprises professionals with extensive experience in the financial services industry and is capable of providing all forms of banking support services.

Its Managers are available at all times for discussions and serve as a focal point in providing excellent services at all times.

The Bank also provides competitive exchange rates for all transactions relating to foreign currencies and is very flexible in dealings on commission/transfers and other charges.

It is worth knowing that Rokel Bank is the only bank in Sierra Leone that reassuringly conveys to the public that integrity is the underlying philosophy for all its operations. “Bank On Our Integrity” is the Bank’s watchwords.

It is displayed prominently on all of the Bank’s promotional materials. This is evident in the growth of the Bank; The Bank’s customer base and work force grew by 254% and 115% respectively from 2001 to 2011. The Bank has consistently paid dividends to the government of Sierra Leone being the majority shareholder.

Rokel is well known for its innovative products and services. All its branches provide real time banking services supported by VSAT/E1 connectivity. The concept of banking with the bank is manifested through our network of branches. At Rokel you are not only doing business, but you can take comfort in banking on its integrity.

History of RCB

The history of commercial banking in Sierra Leone cannot be written without the inclusion of Rokel Commercial Bank; the second largest commercial bank in the country after its sister bank, the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank.

Like a river that serves many people, Rokel Commercial Bank is named after the longest river in Sierra Leone. It divides Lungi in Port Loko district from the Freetown peninsular. Along its course sits the famous Bunce Island from where slaves were shipped to America during the slave trade days.  Similar to in historical and economic significance, Rokel symbolizes our national spread and a gateway to banking in the country.

Amongst sixteen commercial banks operating in Sierra Leone, Rokel Commercial Bank has consistently been listed as one of the top two banks in the industry in terms of market share, profitability and asset base. Board, management and staffs are proud that theirs is the Bank with the widest coverage, with a branch or agency in almost every district in Sierra Leone.

Rokel Commercial Bank started life exactly one hundred and one years ago as Barclays Bank – a leading British financial services provider that had and still has branches across the world.

The parent company, until 1971 owned 100% shares in its Sierra Leone subsidiary. In 1971 the bank was locally incorporated and renamed Barclays Bank of Sierra Leone Limited with 25% shares owned by Sierra Leoneans and 75% Barclays Bank International. The rationale behind this move was to encourage Sierra Leoneans to participate as owners and develop confidence in the Bank.

As a leading financial service provider, Barclays SL Ltd., provided basic banking services – Savings and Current Accounts, Foreign Exchange, Bills for Collection, Safe Custody, trade facilitation and others. It established branches in the provincial headquarter towns of Makeni, Bo and Kenema and other locations, playing a very important role in enhancing financial and economic activities in the country during a period when the country exported a lot of agricultural commodities including coffee and cocoa. The importance of the bank in promoting agricultural trade was witnessed to by the fact that Barclays had 16 branches across the country before the RUF war started in 1992.

As the rebels took over the country, Barclays gradually closed all its branches in the interior, leaving only the headquarters on Siaka Stevens Street in Freetown in April 1998.

On 17th September 1999, Barclays Bank PLC the majority shareholder with 60% shares withdrew from its operations in Sierra Leone after extensive discussions with the Government of Sierra Leone.  Selling the bank for a nominal fee of One British Pound to government, the bank was renamed Rokel Commercial Bank (Sierra Leone) Limited, with Government of Sierra Leone holding 51% shares and 49% shares owned by private institutions, organizations and individuals.

Along with a dynamic change in leadership, RCB has also incorporated the latest technological innovations in the banking world.

“We are leaders in innovative technology in a small and developing country. We have the widest distribution of ATM’s nationwide, with ten machines installed at various locations. We have pioneered Point-of-Sale terminals for Visa cards. Our SMS and Online Banking service provide reliable and secure information for easy monitoring of customer accounts.”

The Bank currently has 372 members of staff and is being headed by the 2nd Sierra Leonean Managing Director and CEO, Dr. Walton Ekundayo Gilpin. It has a management team of 36 senior members of staff.

Apart from the traditional banking services offered, the bank has made the following achievements in terms of its services and branch network since its inception on 17th September 1999:-

  1. Automated Teller Machine (ATMs) services were launched on 16th November 2001. Presently, we have five ATMs in five of our branches.
  2. Wide Area Network (WAN) Connectivity was introduced in December 2001. All our branches are now linked via Satellite Connectivity.
  3. Rokel became part of the SWIFT (i.e. Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications) Network in September 2002.
  4. Internet Banking introduced in February 2004

The Bank has 345 members of staff and is presently headed by the second Sierra Leonean Managing Director, Mr. Victor Keith Cole.  It has a management team of 35 Senior Members of staff.

To keep abreast of the competition, RCB has developed a versatile game plan that hinges on the incorporation of new products and services with ongoing efforts to improve the IT Infrastructure with a modern bank operating software and electronic banking.
RCB has also done considerable work on preventing errors, theft and fraud as well by updating the bank’s general security systems.
RCB in its modernization drive has also become very customer friendly. An effective customer complaint platform now gives the Bank a humane human face that is critically to winning and retaining public confidence and trust.
A disaster management and recovery system has been commissioned by the Bank and is in effective use by the branches. Strict adherence to exchange control procedures ensures adequate documentation for the Banks’ customers.

Board

The Board which is headed by a Chairman, supported by 6 non –executive Directors, meets regularly to advise on policy matters and approve limits/expenditure outside Management’s discretion.

Company law requires the Bank to prepare financial statements for each financial year which give a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the Company and of the profit and loss of the Company for that period.

In preparing those financial statements, the Directors are required to:

  • Select suitable accounting policies and then apply them consistently;
  • Make judgments and estimates that are reasonable and prudent;
  • State whether applicable accounting standards have been followed, subject to any material departures disclosed and explained in the financial statements;
  • Prepare the financial statements on a going-concern basis unless it is inappropriate to presume that the Company will continue in business.

The Directors are responsible for keeping proper accounting records which disclose with reasonable accuracy at any time the financial position of the Company and to enable them to ensure that the financial statements comply with International Accounting Standards and the requirements of the Companies Act 2009. They are also responsible for safeguarding the assets of the Company and hence for taking reasonable steps for the prevention and detection of fraud and other irregularities.

The Bank comprises of the following offices:

Branches and Offices
Head Office Top Floor Siaka Stevens Street
Siaka Stevens Street 25/27 Siaka Stevens Street
Clock Tower 7 Kissy Road
Wellington Wellington Industrial Area
Congo Cross 1 Wilkinson Road, Congo Cross Wilberforce Street
Wilberforce Street 39 Wilberforce Street
Charlotte Street 6 Charlotte Street
Bo 14 Bojon Street
Kenema 12 Dama Road
Koidu 2 New Sembehun Road
Makeni Independence Square/ Soldier Street
Moyamba Siaka Stevens Street, Moyamba
Pujehun Stock Road, Pujehun