Titan Trust Bank, one of the fastest-growing banks in Nigeria, has won the “Best New Commercial Banking Brand” and the “Fastest Growing Digital Banking Brand” in Nigeria for the year 2021. We interviewed Mudassir, CEO & MD of Titan Trust Bank to find out more!
Mudassir is a seasoned banker with well-rounded exposure of over 25 years in senior management roles with a proven track record of adaptability in seven geographies (USA, Nigeria, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Pakistan). Before moving to Titan Trust Bank, Mudassir was with Citibank New York. Throughout his career, Mudassir held various senior positions at Citibank and other foreign & local banks.
1. What is your professional background and what events led you to become the CEO of Titan Trust Bank?
I have a well-diversified professional background. I have worked in local banks, a global bank, and a specialised bank. Each category of the bank has its own strengths, e.g., global banks are strong in processes and controls. Local banks teach you agility and judgement. Specialized banks are good at creating niche products.
Functionally I have done corporate banking, investment banking, treasury, trade, and a bit of retail banking.
In addition, I experienced all the above in 7 different geographies which taught me adaptability and respect for local nuances. Due to such a diverse background, I am now more balanced and effective.
So, when an opportunity came up to build a national commercial bank from ground zero, I thought it’s time to apply whatever I have learned. The current role is the best application of my well-rounded exposure. Titan journey has been the most fulfilling professional experience of my life.
2. How do you differentiate Titan Trust Bank from your competitors? Why should a customer open an account with you instead of another bank? Give us an elevator pitch for Titan Trust Bank.
We have a focused strategy. For corporate clients, we aim to deliver cost-effective financial solutions. For retail clients, we focus on convenience. For SME/MSME, it’s about providing a platform to enhance their reach. So, all in all, it’s about innovation, digital solutions, and customer service. But in my view, these are all defensive ingredients. What sets us apart is our passion to be transparent and fair. It sounds simple but is not and it is not common. There is no achievement bigger than winning clients’ trust.
3. Nigeria’s banking industry is apparently in turmoil right now with some key players facing financial difficulties. How do you plan to avoid facing the same issues as them?
Titan started commercial operation in Q4 2019. Some people criticized us for coming late to the overbanked market. We saw that as an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others. We learned from different economic cycles the country faced in the past 2-3 decades. It was easier for us to select borrowing clients who survived during those crises. Most important, we understand that banking is a long-term play. We are not in a rush. You have higher chance of making a mistake when you try to pursue unrealistic goals.
4. Did you react to the pandemic with any special measures or changes to how you do business? Did it have any significant impact on Titan Trust Bank’s bottom line?
Pandemic was a real challenge for us as we were only 6 months in operation when Nigeria got hit by COVID. We were operating only from one location. It means that any positive case in the premises would have pushed us to a complete close. As such we were extremely careful. We used all methods i.e., rotation of staff, remote working, periodic testing, safety protocols etc. The important thing is that we remained operative for our clients throughout this period. We provided some additional services to clients i.e., pickup and delivery, from our dispatch team. The focus remained on staff safety and client’s convenience.
5. How important do you think online banking is in Nigeria? How critical is it to the future success of Titan Trust Bank? Do you think Nigeria will ever fully adopt online banking in the near future or is the country too entrenched in tradition?
The Nigerian banking market is quite advanced in the digital space. Being a challenger bank, it is imperative for us to make heavy investments in digital. However, while digital solutions provide an efficient reach to the bank, but it is not without risk. Cybercrimes are on the rise, therefore it is equally important for banks to invest in cybersecurity as well.
6. Does cryptocurrency pose a threat to Nigeria’s fiat currency and banking system? Are you in favour of decentralised blockchain technology? Is Titan Trust Bank going to evolve to accommodate crypto or will it continue to focus on traditional banking services?
This is a complicated subject. No doubt, the popularity of crypto is increasing day by day, but we are concerned about the lack of transparency and regulations around this product. Given the growth in demand, many regulators are working towards bringing crypto into some sort of regulatory net. We are watching this space closely and waiting for the right time.
7. What advice do you have for someone who wants to become the CEO of a bank? Should they follow the same path as you did? What would you do differently if you could do it all again?
Generally, my advice to young professionals in Nigeria is to “think big and think long-term”. Nigeria is blessed with exceptional talent. However, I have seen many young professionals taking wrong career decisions. Most of them have no plans, no career guidance from their seniors, and therefore end up making career decisions based on few extra bucks. It is very important for seniors/leaders to provide or arrange regular career counselling for their teams.