The managing director, Abbey Mortgage Bank Plc., Mobolaji Adewumi, in this interview with KINGSLEY OKOH, speaks on the need for innovative solutions to transform the nation’s mortgage subsector.

What do you think are the biggest challenges confronting Nigeria’s mortgage industry?

The industry is faced with several challenges, the major ones include being asset-liability maturity mismatched. Mortgage banks are required to create long-term assets (mortgages) but they mainly rely on short-term deposit liabilities for the creation of mortgages that typically should span 10 to 20 years.

The establishment of the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) has provided a platform for mortgage banks to refinance the mortgages created. As more mortgage banks create qualifying assets that meet the NMRC criteria for refinancing, the liquidity pressure associated with mismatch will be further eased.

In addition, mortgage banks should also develop capacity to access funding from the capital market through bond issuance. Also, the weak foreclosure laws hinder enforcement of mortgage security when customers default. This is partly responsible for the high non-performing loans recorded by the PMBs.

How do you intend to weather these challenges?

Abbey Mortgage Bank keeps exploring alternative channels to access longer term funding. An example is the capital raise that was completed last year. We are also in discussion with institutions that either directly invest long-term funds or provide avenue to access such funds through the capital market. We have in place a robust enterprise risk management framework which enables us to individually profile the risk exposure of every borrowing customer and put the appropriate mitigating plans.

Furthermore, there is a dedicated loan monitoring department and red-flags triggers which give us early warning signs when the customer is about to default. All these helps us limit possible default that will necessitate recovery action.

What strategy did you deploy as an organisation to manage your transformation journey?

The strategies deployed can be broadly categorised into four pillars: People: We assembled the right team and made conscious effort on training the existing staff. You know as they say, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Secondly, we invest in the right technology and leveraged on key partnerships to unlock synergies within our ecosystem. Key among others are putting in place adequate structures, performance management and risk management.

How has Abbey Mortgage Bank impacted the industry?

Abbey Mortgage Bank is one of the oldest Mortgage Banks in the Industry. The Mortgage Bank began operations in 1993 and in the past 30 years, Abbey has supported a lot of Nigerians in owning their personal homes. The Bank carried out a rebranding exercise in 2021 which included changing the mortgage bank’s logo and communicating the bank’s revised vision, mission and values. In the area of provision of housing stock for potential off-takers, Abbey has worked with several developers by providing construction finance and other support towards delivery of houses to homeowners.

The strategy embarked on over the last 2 years has been deliberate and targets repositioning the Institution to be a leader in the mortgage banking space. The recently released financial results for the Mortgage Bank evidenced that the transformation walk embarked two years ago has started to yield the required results.

What are the next steps for Abbey Mortgage Bank?

At Abbey, our vision is very clear. We want to be the leading mortgage bank out of Africa and all efforts are channelled towards ensuring that we achieve this vision.

Our focus over the next one year is to continue to build an enhanced platform that will support the creation of value for our esteemed shareholders and other stakeholders. We will continue to develop innovative financial solutions that will allow our clients to achieve their objectives of owning their homes and making their investments.

We believe there is significant opportunity in the subsector, and we are willing to stay in the forefront, working with all stakeholders to further develop the sector and increase its contribution to the overall economy of the country.

In conclusion, we intent to expand the balance sheet, increase our impact in supporting developers and home buyers and ultimately, increase our shareholders’ wealth.

Take us through your journey to becoming the MD of Abbey Mortgage Bank?

I have always been interested in Finance. I started my professional career at KPMG Nigeria (an international firm of chartered accountants) in 2006. In 2009, I moved to United Bank of Africa (UBA) as a Senior Financial Analyst. During my stay at UBA, I manned a couple of portfolios (reporting to the CFO) which included: Head of Finance for Institutional Banking and non-bank subsidiaries and later head of Finance for UBA Africa.

My passion for business management led me to proceed to a Business School for my MBA. I resigned from UBA in 2011 to commence the MBA (Specialising in Finance) programme at Judge Business School, University of Cambridge as a Leventis Scholar.

In 2012, after completion of my MBA programme, I ventured into specialised banking by joining Aso Savings and Loans Plc as the Special Adviser to the MD/CEO. I later joined First Bank of Nigeria Limited as the special assistant to the managing director/chief executive-Dr. Adesola Kazeem Adeduntan.

In April 2019, I left First Bank of Nigeria Limited to take up the role of the executive director, Finance of VFD Group Plc for about a year before taking on a new challenge in Abbey Mortgage Bank Plc as the executive director, Finance and Administration.

The fortunate and welcomed appointment of our immediate past MD/CEO Mr. Madu Hamman as the MD/CEO of First Mortgage Bank Nigeria (FMBN) gave me the unique opportunity to be appointed as the acting MD/CEO of Abbey Mortgage Bank.

How has Abbey Mortgage Bank impacted on your career?

The Mortgage Banking industry is not entirely new to me, having worked three years in Aso Savings PLC, I understood the peculiar challenges facing the mortgage sub-sector. The experiences gained working with big Institutions like KPMG, UBA and FirstBank were also valuable in the two roles I have manned in Abbey.

I resumed at Abbey at a very critical phase in the life of the Institution. Firstly, it was at a time the Founder Mrs Rose Okwechime was retiring from her role as the MD of the Mortgage Bank after a 28 years meritorious service. Secondly, it was at the phase when critical decisions needed to be taken on the financial position and future of the Institution.

Resuming at Abbey at the time I did and in the capacity of my position meant I had to be actively involved in providing a guide to the Board of the Directors of the Bank on what needed to be done to reposition the Mortgage Bank for growth, in getting the buy in of the major stakeholders including the regulators and in driving the implementation of the agreed initiatives with key stakeholders of the bank.

What are the plans for Abbey at 30?

We have mapped out a series of activities to reinforce our leadership position, as an institution that has withstood the varying economic downtimes and has remained strong and vibrant. Our 30years is worth every bit of celebration starting from CSR activities which will include school rehabilitation, a walkathon promoting mental health among other initiatives; our focus on these areas is that of our entrenched belief in building dreams which can only occur with a balanced mental health; as such, this anniversary serves as another opportunity to give back to our society and showcase the true spirit of Abbey.