Banking Notion: The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Sterling Bank, Abubakar Suleiman, cautioned newly inducted members of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria against the notion that being a professional banker guarantees immense wealth.

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Suleiman delivered this message on Saturday during the 2024 Stream 1 graduate induction and prizegiving day of the CIBN held in Lagos, under the theme ‘Ethics and Professionalism: A Prerequisite for Building Sustainable Career and Institution.’

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The CIBN inducted a total of 485 graduates, including 18 from the CBMBA route, four from the MSc/ACIB route, 33 from the collaboration with Lagos Business School on the Chartered Bankers route, 281 from the regular examination route, and 149 candidates as Microfinance Certified Bankers.

Addressing the gathering, which included former institute presidents, Lagos Commissioner of Finance Abayomi Oluyomi, and other stakeholders, Suleiman urged the inductees to reflect on their motivations for entering the profession.

He remarked, “If your aim is wealth – and I say this with all seriousness – and if you encounter a professional banker, not an owner or entrepreneur in banking, claiming to be wealthy, scrutinize and ask how? Merely being a professional in an employee capacity is not a path to ‘billionaires’ unless you engage in illicit activities, which I trust you do not. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be investing in your professional career and certification if your sole aim were money.”

He continued, “Banking offers a sense of purpose if that’s what you seek. There are ample opportunities for meaningful service in banking. However, if your aspiration is wealth and private jets, your ambition has already compromised your ethical integrity.”

Suleiman urged the inductees to hold the banking profession in the highest esteem, emphasizing that trust is the currency of banking, and without it, there can be no banking.

Drawing from personal experiences of using banking as a tool for development, Suleiman recounted instances where he advocated for investments in state bonds issued by Lagos and Osun States to fund education and infrastructure projects, despite the bonds yielding below-market returns.

He emphasized, “My purpose extended beyond profit and bonuses; I aimed to contribute to nation-building. I encourage you to maintain clarity of purpose.”

In his opening speech, the President/Chairman of the Council of the CIBN, Ken Opara, underscored the importance of ethics and professionalism in the financial services industry. He outlined initiatives undertaken by the institute to promote ethical conduct among practitioners, including a mandatory annual Ethics Compliance Certification Programme and the forthcoming establishment of a banking school focused on instilling ethics and professionalism.

The Lagos commissioner, as the special guest of honor, urged the inductees to uphold the institute’s values and resist compromising on ethical standards.

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