The Rise and Rise of Rokel Commercial Bank

The Rokel Commercial Bank recently held its 46th Annual General Meeting (AGM) to adopt various resolutions, policies and the bank’s financial reports for the years, 2016 and 2017. Throughout the deliberations, it became apparent that shareholders who had over the years been despondent over the bank’s inability to make profits were now only asking for dividend payments.
Clearly, the amplified calls from the shareholders for profit sharing could have sounded like mere phantasmagorical conjectures had the Management not embraced and implemented the transformative benchmarks conceived and supported by Government. No one would have been talking about dividend payment if the bank had failed to make profit. And as one of the shareholders puts it; “We no longer have any doubt in the bank’s ability to make profit…we are quite pleased with the rapid transformation but we are also looking forward to the payment of our dividend…..” Therefore, when the Managing Director, Walton Gilpin assured shareholders of an imminent dividend payment to shareholders, it became obvious that the bank’s financial statements shall only continue to show an upward trajectory.
Rokel was the second most profitable bank in 2017 with a LE62.7 Billion Profit (after tax). Such a significant leap cannot be unconnected to the efforts of its selfless Managing Director and Management team. Gilpin and his team had defied the odds to institute meaningful reforms including the rolling out of an aggressive marketing strategy which had invariably succeeded to regain public goodwill towards the bank and increased its deposit base by 9%. In 2017, Rokel Commercial Bank became the most decorated financial institution with 17 Awards in a single year from credible local and international organizations.
Gilpin, a consummate professional economist has worked in over fifteen countries in Africa and the Caribbean after nurturing his skills at the Bank of Sierra Leone. His bi-partisan disposition may not give him all the friends he needs but he has proved himself as a game changer – one whose intellect and work ethics can be used to inspire our younger generation. Staff morale at the bank is reportedly at its highest in 18 years as a result of an open-door policy as well as innovative staff welfare promotion efforts. Outside his professional work, Gilpin had since 2008 utilized parts of his hard-earned income to fund the GEED Foundation which he established to provide better livelihoods for disadvantaged women and children across the country including his paternal home, Bonthe and Benguema, Port Loko and Tonkolili.
“The bank has recorded a 10% growth in the size of its balance sheet significantly in the deposit. Investment securities grew by Le 171BN (51%) as a result of the moratorium on loans and overdraft. Our deposit increased by 63 Bn (9%) due to aggressive marketing and efficient operations,” stated Abubakarr Jalloh, the Chairman of the bank’s Oversight Committee.
Rokel Commercial Bank is poised to regain its iconic status in the country’s financial sector and contribute to the New Direction’s drive for sustainable economic growth. In the same vein, it has carved a niche for resilience which other financial institutions can learn from. The transformation has been phenomenal, and with Government’s unwavering commitment to sanitize the banking sector, Rokel is set to blaze the trail for indigenous banking in Sierra Leone.

Buffy Bailor, Board Chair – RCBank


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