GTBank: How not to destroy a great brand

I got my first GTBank account in 2010; I was late to the game.

For the larger part of the last decade, GTBank has been the most loved bank in Nigeria. It is fact also, that most of us – most people who got GTBank accounts, did so without any form of marketing. We walked in with our feet, got our forms and joined the queue at the customer service desk.

The allure of GTBank was easy. The brand was slick, cool and the service was fantastic. Most people who got GTBank accounts did because it was cool – it was almost like being associated with the GTBank brand made one cool in extension. All the cool kids had GTBank accounts and brand loyal folks like me endured hundreds of “why don’t you have a GTBank account?” type questions.

Eventually, the wife and I needed to consolidate our accounts on a bank platform with the right services, and choosing GT was easy. The platform let us do most of the things we wanted with our money, including international transfers. And that Mastercard was additional value – we didn’t need to fund an international account to use a US card abroad – we could spend from our local account with little fuss (and at CBN rates, which didn’t please out mallam). Both Naira and Dollar Mastercards worked on most merchant platforms online.

The allure of GTBank doesn’t end with the middle class, and aspiring young people. Even the Mallams and artisans were caught in the hype (back then, it wasn’t hype, it was the sensible thing to do). My Mallam has a GTBank account, my shoe store has a GTBank account, my new tailor has a GTBank account. Recently, I needed to pay vendors working at our office, and my carpenter suggested I “do a GTBank now?”, meaning I should do an online transfer for him instead of giving him cash.

But all that, is dead. Dead and gone. At the peak of its brand might, GTBank was like Apple – it was the perfect bank, it could do no wrong. Any complaints about poor service were done in hushed tones. But not anymore. Rumours of poor services started slowly, hush hush, and then gathered strength when influential customers found the will to complain publicly. Then came the internet banking crashes (which are still going on). Almost overnight, almost every mention of GTBank on social media was in relation to some form of bad service. The mystique of infallibility, built on brilliant service is gone.


There’s too many reasons why the value of the GTBank brand is falling. A quick sweep of social media tells a tale of frustration, pain and disappointment from hitherto satisfied customers.

A Google search of variations of “gtbank problems” will supply endless links of customer complaints. But what makes these complaints worse is that the customer service reps at the branches seem to have suddenly stopped responding to customer troubles. Even worse still, the courteous staff we had come to associate with GTBank all seemed to have moved to a parallel universe, leaving behind clones who didn’t inherit the all important customer first genes.

Was there ever a time until recently, when we associated sweaty customers on endless queues with GTBank?

The third party transfer on savings accounts debacle is another case in point. While I know this was possibly a routine maintenance issue that maybe extended its scope, the PR associated with that episode was so horrible, it did no favours to the brand.

The fact that there was a general failure on the internet banking platform before then just served to make the situation look worse than it really was. However, the biggest failure here was GTBank’s customer care department. They did not forewarn, they did not communicate properly during the episode, and they did not mop up after the issue was resolved.

The real question now is: what happened?

Is it a leadership problem? Is the retirement of Fola Adeola and sadly, the death of Tayo Aderinokun, the reason GTBank’s culture of efficient customer care been eroded?

Becoming bigger comes with bigger issues. GTBank is about the best performing banking stock in Nigeria. The GTBank brand has given it the push in the markets,  and fueled the ban’s growing stature and expansion. The question that remains, on the back of another solid year, will be if GTBank’s customer care commitments can keep up with its growth. A stronger brand means more customers, and more issues emerging, and more problems to resolve. If stupid people in large groups can wreck havoc, there’s no saying what can happen in a congregation of ‘smart’ people piling-on on one bank.

A big selling point for GTBank had always been technology. The internet banking platform was great. But again (this is becoming a recurring term), not anymore. The internet banking platform failures are becoming everyday issues. This afternoon, I got three SMS notifications for one transaction, and no email. At other times, the notifications are delayed by a day or two. The transaction failures at ATMs probably should be left for another day.

The reality for GTBank, like Apple today, is that the competitors are no longer sitting on their hands, doing nothing. Other banks are doing stuff too. Of the other internet banking platforms I’ve tried out, Zenith Bank and Diamond Bank provide better services than GT. Zenith Bank transfers are sharp and stress free. Diamond Bank’s internet banking interface is much better than GTBank’s.

I am still wondering when GTBank’s interface will improve across platforms, and their transactions will go asynchronous – Diamond Bank has done this already. If you have ever tried to log in to the GTBank internet banking platform on an iPad, you will find the process cumbersome and annoying. One has to zoom about 4-levels up to the get the right sized tap buttons for the password input.

By the way, it takes me a couple of browser refreshes to get to the GTBank website, and I don’t know if this is a social experiment, or just another problem with GTBank technology.

The sum total of this GTBank case is that we have gone past when we just want our money to be safe with a bank. We know GT will keep our money safe. But we want better services, and we want it with GTBank. Anyone who really loves a brand feels sick when the brand disappoints – this is what most GTBank customers are feeling. We have got to the point where GTBank and Zenith Bank are mentioned in the same breath, with regards to technology. There’s nothing wrong with Zenith Bank by the way, but it’s a big fall for GT though – because they had reigned supreme for so long, and we had come to look up to them as an icon of technology and service.

No amount of cool stories on NDANI will replace the simple part of the customer who yearns for simple, stress free customer service.

I have a small story from GTBank of back in the day. I had gone to the bank to make a deposit that was obviously larger than what I could make over the counter. However, the queue from the bulk counting room was spilling over. There was obviously nothing the bank could do about the number of people trying to deposit there, but when I decided I could just slide my card in at the counter, deposit my cash, and save the bank one more person on the long queue, I expected the teller to apply some logic and see I was offering a solution rather than cutting process.

The teller however said he would rather I went to bulk counting because I was over the limits. I pointed out the lines, and how bad it was for image and how I was offering a solution – no budge. Then branch manager happened to pass by and overheard this conversation. She came over, told the teller I had a point, and even offered to run my transaction. In two minutes, I was done. The manager then went to the line spilling from the bulk counting room, and announced that if any of the customers there was paying into their own accounts and had a card, then they could come over the nearly empty banking hall, and have the tellers help them out.

This story of course is from 2012. But this is the kind of story we often heard about the GTBank of old. Efficient operations which always kept the customer happy.

So if anyone knows where the old GTBank has been kidnapped to, could you kindly return to 635 Akin Adesola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria (found using Google cache because the main page was down)


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#TeamAnakle Developer: business and code. Nigerian - Personal views

27 thoughts on “GTBank: How not to destroy a great brand”

  1. Spot on bro! Well said article. I hope d situation is remedied. On a soft note, i also dont see d importance of that Ndani magazine. Other erstwhile things could be achieved with d resource devoted to Ndani

  2. Its a leadership problem, GTbank has also turned out to be a very abusive bank to staff. Simply put, the leadership cares no more about customers; chasing numbers , destroying old relationships thus damaging the brand we knew. Guess what, those who had the blue blood, who loved the creative style are leaving in gradually in their small numbers. I hope the current leadership retrace their steps to avoid stories that touch.

  3. Very well said. When brands starts focusing on the non-issues and unimportant aspects of branding, then it starts to fail. I got to GT recently and saw all staff putting on orange ties and shirts and blouses. I laughed because I knew somewhere, somehow, somebody had stopped thinking properly. GTbank didn’t build it’s brand with that kind of razzmatazz. It was built on quality. Like the writer said, it was a cool brand and u just had to be associated with it. It’s what Malcom Gladwell will have described as the word of mouth epidemic. In those days if I start waxing lyrical about GT’s service, u’d think I was a paid brand ambassador. I hope the management re-trace their steps.

  4. My thoughts too. Dearth of leadership has always been the bane of the African continent, more so, the Nigerian society. And when you find something close to visionary leadership, it is shortlived and without continuity. Our prosperity seems to lack posterity. Our systems are built so much around an individual. They thrive when they are around and collapse when they arent. I still like Gtbank, and pray the current leadership rise to the occassion.

  5. Spot on Editi…many blame it on the new MD…he has brought bad manners, abuse of staff and general devaluing of peoples esteem to the bank. The culture cannot absorb such anomaly….can he tone down this brash style and save the bank from the brink? Over to you GTBank board members

  6. GTBank!

    Where do I start?

    I agree with you about the leadership issue and I think this is the primary factor. Things have changed dramatically over the past year and half or so. This shows that companies really do take on the characteristics and character of their leadership.

    It’s a question of staff behaviour being shaped by what actions they see are punished and which are encouraged in the ecosystem. Another question is whether the leadership is humble and perceptive enough to understand what is happening to them – to the brand. It feels like standards have been compromised at the highest levels.

    The staff are neither as courteous nor as supportive as they used to be. It shows that there’s more happening behind the scenes that we do not know about.

    This is the first Nigerian brand that I have supported wholeheartedly and it is painful to watch it slide far below its erstwhile capability. it made us feel proud as Nigerians.

    I hope there is a turnaround soon.

  7. I once wanted to pay into someone’s account. I got to GT and the queue spilled from the bulk room to the main hall and unto the corridor. Rather than waste valuable minutes of my life on the queue, I called the person and begged to pay them cash in person. Carried the money the whole day but did not mind. I have stopped funding my GT account for over a year simply because their ATMs hardly work most weekends. The was indeed a GTBank.

  8. Segun Agbaje has changed the culture of the Bank. He’s turned the Bank to an annex of Access Bank… In the past GTBank staff used to see the institution as ‘ours’ and this apparently showed in the way they ran the bank…Staff now work and live in fear of the Almighty CEO. This has seriously affected their output

  9. I would not agree entirely with the comments about the MD, Mr Segun Agbaje! Given a chance to know him, you might discover that contrary to the general perception, he’s got a very good heart. He is a visionary with lofty intentions for the brand but is stern when he needs to be (with some occasional outbursts)! I must say however that the bank has shifted its focus from building “a formidable workforce” and “surpassing customer satisfaction” to “building profit”. Numbers do not grow Numbers, people grow the numbers. The bulk of the GTBank workforce is disgruntled due to tyrannical heads operating in Silos thereby giving Mr Agbaje a bad name. Ask about the heads of their Funds Transfer, Retail, Control, even HR to fully understand the sort of tyrannical leadership the employees face! Back in the days, employees worked hard to sustain the reputation of the bank by ensuring customers left the banking halls more than satisfied. Today, all they do is deal with system failures, workplace bullying, insults and point blank victimization by those who should make the environment enabling.

    transferring the baton from Fola to Tayo was seamless, a little controversial btw Tayo and Segun, but Segun can run this race! It is the tyrants with stuffed throats around him that are destroying the brand as they are making the environment unpleasant for those who make things work in the system.


    Concerned Lagos Boy for you..

  10. Personally Segun Agbaje is a Boss and not a leader that’s the problem and also I doubt the new board understands the premise to which the bank was built upon. Like someone said, the staff treated the bank as theirs hence it spilled over to the customers because all hands were on deck to sustain the position of OUR bank. Segun can’t run that bank….leadership isn’t just about smartness it’s about relationship. He needs to stop being a damn rich kid snob. This isn’t an inheritance from his father. It’s the real world. He has to grow up and get mature.

  11. I thought I was the only one seeing this drastic change. It doesn’t help that the staffs look tired of their jobs and can’t be bothered what customers think. Something is wrong somewhere.too many changes, most staffs I knew who used to be in the lagos offices have left the former account officer resigned with his unit head and other team members. So I think there is something wrong with the way the bank is being run right segun agbaje getting it wrong?is he trying to proove a point as the new MD? Because we all know that late tayo aderinkoun left an amazing legacy, change is good but you must do it right. Its no new that the new MD made so many changes.question is,how well has it helped the bank?

  12. The issue with GT bank is deep. First of, the top management don’t have leadership qualities. Staff are not motivated, human resources have forgotten their function and all this has trickled down to the staff don’t care attitude. Another thing is that the bank is bigger and they are not growing in staff strength and branch numbers to accomodate this new phenomenom. I can go on and on but I will be here all day.

  13. GTBank is a brand I loved with all my heart. They were different from the pack. But now, I once lodged a cheque for interbank transfer and it took 4days for it to be treated. I had called the customer care unit for 2days complaining about this issue yet it was not treated. I had to send a mail to some names on their website before I was called and it was treated. I stopped using them as my primary bank for ages. I feel it started when they opened different training schools and started recruiting pepper sellers to work for them. They make poor decisions without carrying the public. Do you know you cannot use your gtbank card to buy airtime on It was disabled because they claim you can buy airtime through some other means from them. Who gave them the right to impose a medium of purchase that does not even work on the public? I hope someone would start thinking in the old gtbank style we used to know.

  14. Some better be listening… Gtb certainly needs to take a look at her operations again. I think there is also the issue of unprofessional and unskilled staff brought in in the bid to cut cost… You can’t run a brand such as Gtb with cheap labour you kow.

  15. Sad thing is, so long as GTBank keeps posting profits, shareholders remain happy and the executive will pay dividends, enjoy from the booty and fold their hands in hope that these truths being propagated via the social media will fizzle out. But that’s a wish in “la la land”. The Nigerian citizenry is getting more enlightened by the day. The world is becoming smaller through the information super-highway. Besides i am posting this comment from Ghana today and fortunately my friends here who bank with GT are literate and can also read…. and write!

    Someone recently said to me, “The fall of GTBank started with the demise of Tayo.” In retrospect, I just cant help but admit how much this statement holds true! I keep hoping there is light at the end of the tunnel for this bank, but I’m also skeptical it just might be a flame thrower!

    Its such a wacky race to watch, how these banks get frantic at the publication of financials by competitors. like I said in my comment earlier, the focus is on the numbers! The profit. The balance sheet! You, the customer are the impaled seasoned turkey at the roast. Your COT is all they care about and not your COmplainT!

    Those at the helm who have the means to change things seem only concerned about their proverbial “armed robber salaries” and “bombastic bonuses.” They very likely will dismiss the comments on this blog. It’s not easy to see the dwarf behind the bushes when you’re seated on such high horses! But it very well might be your last horse ride so enjoy it while it lasts.

    GTBank has employed citizens and empowered so many families and gotten them out of hunger. Sad to see a new crop of “leaders” steer this vehicle, IN REVERSE!

    There is always a day of reckoning.

    Concerned Lagos Boy.. Na so d tin go!

  16. Reading through all these comments is just saddening. I worked in GTBank in d good old days of Uncle T – Tayo Aderinokun (God bless his soul) and I STRONGLY believe its a leadership problem. Simply put, Segun Agbaje is a manager and not a leader and he’s shown I̶̲̥̅̊n̶̲̥̅̊ the last year or so that he doesn’t care what anyone thinks and he’s gonna run this bank his way! A business is a reflection of its leadership. If you have a calm leadership, your business will be and if you have a leadership that is customer focused, you will also see it in the organisation.
    There’s a deeper problem than what customers see; their staff are disgruntled and highly overworked. What kind of service do you expect from an unhappy employee? Of cos poor service. Marketing teams target of more accounts has gone up significantly while the staff strength dealing with opening these accounts and attending to these new and old customers hasn’t. An indication of a organisation not customer-focused.
    I understand that GTBank wants to become the most profitable bank in Africa since they’ve achieved that in Nigeria already but Segun pls do this without forgetting the vision of the bank ” We are a team driven to deliver the UTMOST in customer service…” That’s what this bank was built on and it’s fast becoming a once-upon-a-time tale.
    Can I say @ this point that any internal person (I still like 2 think I am even though I left almost 2years ago…lol!!!) knows that Segun has never been a fan of retail banking and would rather do only corporate banking if he has a chance! It’s getting more obvious.
    I could go on and on cos my heart bleeds for this great brand and institution which I fell in love with and was a part of. My present colleagues (nt a bank by the way) knew better than to start an arguement about GTBank when I’m there cos they knew they couldn’t win. A lot of them wondered why I left the bank because of my love for the brand but honestly these days, I don’t have it in me anymore. The complaints about poor service is so overwhelming that I can’t respond anymore; I just tell them to call GTConnect to lodge their complaints. I’ve stopped being a free brand ambassador and I know I’m not the only one that has quit that ‘job’.

    Pls do something Guaranty Trust Bank!

    Do something Segun Agbaje!

  17. You just re-echoed my thoughts in tne last one year. I have reiterated this a number of times on twitter and facebook. Its unfortunate that in this part of the world organizations just plateau when they feel they have their customer’s confidence.GTBANK #EpicFall

  18. I served in the bank in Abuja a few years back, and I thought if ever I will end up in a bank, it should be Guaranty Trust Bank. The reason was simple, I was opportuned to meet the late MD, Tayo Aderinokun during one of his visits to the branch in Abuja. He was so down to earth and the way related with the operations staff (I was in marketing unit), sincerely anywhere he had led them, they would have followed. He went behind the counter chatted with them, asked questions and made them happy. Personally i met with him and shook hands with him. I was made to understand that in lagos, he takes his lunch in the lunch room with every other staff, and chats freely with them. An outsider who does not know him will never believe he was the MD of GTB. That was a great culture. A culture of friendliness which begets camaraderie among the staff. No one was scared of the MD, but understand that he is their leader and they extremely revered. Of the 4 corpers I knew in the bank then, 3 of them eventually joined the bank while I went to UK for my masters and the last left for another bank. A few months back, the last of them left GTB to join First bank, and his reason was not financial, rather the very inconducive working environment created by the present leadership. I was made to understand that they believe leadership is simply subduing the staff. A disenchanted staff can never be productive. To cut the long story short, I was in one of the Lagos branches and they were expecting one of the operations senior officers. A woman from the description I got. The way the staff were so tensed up, I was wondering if the person in question was superior to Tayo Aderinokun, because he never created this trepidation filled atmosphere. I could visibly see that the bank I served in as a corper is a world away from what I met on that day. Fortunately it was a Friday, and I observed they were all clad in suits and tie and when I inquired from my account officer, he told me dress down on Fridays has been stopped. Someone is obviously not thinking right somewhere. This is the bank that started this andit he idea is to display a calm, relaxed and friendly environment. I instantly hated the bank. Surely it was obvious that anything that suits the staff was to be expunged in the name of whatever changes they intend achieve. So a system that looks tension laden will beget what they have created currently. The present leadership in my own opinion is like a football coach who wants to win a title, and does not care about the players, does not motivate them psychologically. He may ultimately win the title, but it’s a matter of time before the cookie crumbles. Some of his finest player will leave for other conducive teams and shine while in due time he will be outshined by the same players he maltreated.

  19. I sincerely disagree with most things in the post & comments sections, but I respect your opinions.

    I’ve used GTB for quite some time now, & the difficulties I’ve had with the bank are very minimal & understandable. A couple of you might have had problems which must have hurt, I’m not disputing that. But to categorise GTB will all these negative adjectives; is telling lies.

    Technology; GTB still stands tall. Internet banking has worked & helped a whole lot. I believe it only natural for it to have hitches.
    I know a neighbour that had issues with paying school fees Online with almost every bank. Only GTB came through. This happened last month. Naira Mastercard has remained a blessing within & outside the country. Safe & reliable. Someone said GTB ATMs don’t work weekends. *sigh* that’s an obvious lie. GTB weekend ATM queues remain long because of it being reliable. Other banks’ customers make the queue longer.

    Lets criticise, but let’s be truthful to ourselves.
    3rd party transfer on savings a/c was stopped for a while because majority of the perpetrated fraud were done through it.

    All banks have these issues including GTB. GTB hasn’t become so terrible as portrayed by the author of this post.

    We shouldn’t even talk about staff welfare. GTB is one of the top employers in the whole of Nigeria. Also one of the highest paying in the financial services sector. This is talking of Facts. Ask the staff of different banks in the same level as a GTB staff & compare how well they’re treated (pay & all). Zenith? Access? UBA? I don’t
    support being too aggressive on staff, but point me at one performing bank that that isn’t being done.

    However its a wake up call for the Bank. They’ll complement the job they doing & continue to serve us well.
    I can also google “*insert any bank name* Problems” & see a 0 result, right?

    1. I am a marketing staff of GTbank, this is my 8th year with the bank. I have worked in both retail and corporate departments during this time. I am not going to refute nor agree with all the comments, however, I sincerely appreciate the write up and input of everyone. It shows genuine concern for the future of the bank. Let me reassure everyone that the MD and all top management have read this message and several others.The bank’s customer base has more than quadrupled in the last 3 years and we admit we are overwhelmed and did not adequately prepare for the ensuing issues. We have held several meetings about this are deeply concerned about the situation. Since mid year, we have set plans in motion to get back to being the favourite brand e.g opening more branches by 1st quarter 2013, recruiting more staff, making the internet banking more robust and efficient, simplifying customer service job functions so they can attend to customers better, procuring cash deposit machines to be situated in banking halls, etc. Going forward, you will begin to see changes in the right direction. I can only pray that we can quickly restore your confidence in us. Thank you.

      1. Absolute lie, this is 2016, no improvement and everything is even getting worse.
        I promised myself never to use GTB bank transfer for online purposes ago. You neither know if your fund has been deducted or if the person you are transacting with has got the alert.
        Going to a GTBank banking hall is hell, aggressive workers due to overwhelming mounds of customers to attend to.
        No bank can boast of the customer base that GTBank has but the silly bank chose not to expand nor create more branches. Stinginess! A branch per State is pathetic and callous.
        If you won’t expand then why not make online banking the best arsenal you have? Never!
        – GTBank will self-destruct by the way they are handling mobile and online banking, and it will be a mass exodus by loyal customers to the banks that care about their plights.
        Thick headed and proud bunch of directors the bank have got.

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