Inspirational giant of the banking sector, by Ken Nwogbo –


Phillips Oduoza, Founder and Chairman of NOVA Merchant Bank Limited is inspired by the future of Nigeria, which he believes holds potential to be tapped.

NOVA Merchant Bank offers an integrated suite of financial solutions covering wholesale banking, investment banking, asset management, wealth management, commercial services, banking transactions, treasury management and digital banking.

Phillips, also a former Group Managing Director (GMD), United Bank for Africa (UBA), is gifted, a deep thinker, selfless with a knack for seeing what others couldn’t see and making the impossible possible on top of that. great leadership skills.

In this article, we’ll take a look at his new bank, banking career, leadership skills, and background.

NOVA Investment Bank

NOVA Merchant Bank founded by Phillips is a licensed merchant bank specializing in wholesale and investment banking services.

The bank that started operations in 2018 became an instant success and broke even in the first year of operation.

Remember that when NOVA Merchant Bank started operations, the economic environment was quite difficult, because the country had just emerged from the recession.

Second, there was still turbulence in the industry resulting from interventions in some banks by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

But the new bank’s growth trajectory also continued as it announced an after-tax profit of 3.49 billion naira for the fiscal year ended Dec.31, 2020.

This represents an increase of 112% from 1.65 billion naira in 2019.

All key financial parameters recorded a major improvement compared to the performance of the previous year; Gross profit showed a quantum leap of 130% growth from 2019 and pre-tax profit at N3.52bn grew 135% compared to 2019’s figure of N1.5bn.

The bank has achieved such growth amid the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting macroeconomic headwinds.

In addition, the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) recently admitted the bank’s 10 billion naira bond on its platform.

The bank made history as the youngest investment bank to issue a bond in Nigeria which was also oversubscribed by 300%

The success of the bond is an indication of the level of investor confidence in the reputation, brand and performance of the bank’s business.

Banking career

Phillips began his banking career in 1989 with Citibank as the first group of executive trainees where he trained in all aspects of banking after a brief stint at International Merchant Bank (IMB) as a loan officer in 1987.

During his three years at Citibank, he gained knowledge of banking, relationship management, credit / marketing, effective technology implementation, risk management and lean banking.

He moved from Citibank to Diamond Bank in 1991, as one of the pioneers who built the bank into a strong and remarkable brand in the industry.

Phillips rose through the ranks to become an Executive Director, serving as Managing Director of Operations and Technology (1999-2002), a time when most banks had to undergo IT transformation to comply with global standards and practices.

He was also Executive Director, Commercial / Retail Banking from 2002 to 2004.

He then moved to Reliance Bank Limited, where he served as Deputy Managing Director for 4 months before joining the management and board of directors of Standard Trust Bank PLC in December 2004.

He was at STB at the time of the merger with UBA and became a key player in the new UBA, rising through the ranks to serve two terms as Managing Director / Managing Director before his retirement in 2016.

He was replaced by Kennedy Uzoka.

Leadership skills

Phillips is an accomplished banker with boundless energy who believes in teamwork.

He is a hard worker who avoids shortcuts and does not jump through the leadership ladder.

He’s got the Midas touch, everything he touches turns to gold

Phillips mentored and mentored the cultures of young bankers and entrepreneurs.

He is also my benefactor.

Tony O. Elumelu, Chairman of United Bank for Africa (UBA), described Philips as “a man with a very cerebral mind, very diligent, loyal and astute”

He is a man who loves and encourages progress and a man who always works for the best of everything.

Elumelu said UBA’s performance today, both in financial management and in brand management, is all attributable to Philips and the entire team he has worked with.

Alex Otti, former CEO of Diamond Bank Plc, praised Philips for its extraordinary talent and management skills and for leaving the banking industry with its integrity intact.

Philips has won several awards and is one of the most popular bankers on the African continent.

In 2013 and 2015, he became the 30 CEO of the Year for the African Investor (IA) in Socially Responsible Investment (SRI).

He currently serves on the boards of Veritas University Abuja, the Lagos State Security Trust Fund and the Development Bank of Nigeria.

Philips has also served on several boards, including Interswitch Plc (representing UBA), Valuecard Plc (Unified Payment Services Plc), Nigeria Interbank Settlement System, Nigeria Economic Summit Group, Financial Markets and Dealers Quotations (FMDQ).


Phillips was born into a large family in Owerri, Imo State in Nigeria.

He attended St. Kelvins Primary School, Owerri, and Government College, Owerri before moving to Lagos State for his university studies.

He graduated from the University of Lagos with a degree in civil engineering (with first class honors).

He was intelligent and excelled in his studies.

According to Phillips, he never considered banking or accounting in his first degree because he didn’t want a sedentary career.

Instead, he wanted a career in civil engineering where he felt he would be more actively engaged.

“As a student I was very proficient in science subjects,” he recalls, “and I could have studied medicine or whatever. However, I wanted a profession that involved physical activities, as opposed to research. This is why I chose to study engineering because it has physical applications. As a civil engineer, you are involved in the construction of roads, bridges, houses and so many different things.

However, during his engineering studies he took a few business related courses and his interest was piqued.

After school, he considered several career options before eventually settling in banking, which became the epicenter of his entire career.

He returned to UNILAG and obtained an MBA in finance to guide his new career.

Since then, he has taken numerous banking, management and leadership courses, including the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.

He is an honorary member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers.

Nwogbo is Editor-in-Chief / CEO,
Nigeria CommunicationsWeek


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