By Eric Elezuo
The UT Group, in more ways than one has conquered the world of financial services with their their brand UT Financial Services, and testimonies abound. Today, the company, in its grand expansion drive, has diversified into what Nigerians need most – clean, solid affordable houses, and so the emergence of UT HOMES, which in the brief period it has existed has broken new grounds, provided an alternative that has marvelled clients and simplified the business of providing homes.
Sitting atop the enviable organisation is the workaholic and result oriented Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Ade Adebajo, who revealed to The Boss the mouthering delicacies UT HOMES has brought to the table. Excerpts:
What is UT Financial services all about?
As the name implies, UT Financial Services is an organisation reputed for giving glorious financial services to the public, and its service is as regulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria. We are regulated to perform the functions of loans giving, investments, capital raising and anything that concerns finance generally. Just mention it, and UT is basically equipped to handle it.
How long has UT Financial Services been in this great endeavour?
UT has been in existence for as long as 10 prolific years in Nigeria, and has been regulated by the CBN in those years.
In 10 years, what could you readily say are their achievements?
In the first place, the fact that we are still here and waxing strong indicates that we are doing something great in terms of functioning within the ambit of the law, giving enduring services to the public and helping to build and raise the GDP of Nigeria. It may interest you to know that about two months ago, the CBN revoked the licences of about 148 finance houses and micro finance companies involved in finance and loans but our professional standing stood us out, and we are still here.
Again, in the market place, it has been noted even with the regulators that UT has grown. We have done very well. We have met all our obligations. We have had no complaints whatsover in those 10 years. We have been able to meet the demands of majority of our customers. We have brought in new products. We have also expanded our branches, all within a space of 10 years.
Apart from rendering financial services, what other expansion is associated with UT as a veritable group?
Having looked at the market, we noticed the shortage of housing among Nigerians, especially in Lagos and Ogun state, so we formed a sister company called UT HOMES. This company acquires properties and goes into Joint Venture with like minds (individuals or companies), built houses, rent them out and sell some of them at prices anyone can afford.
Still on UT HOMES, what can you say is its practical mission, vision and objective as the case may be?
At the moment, UT Homes is building nice and affordablre houses. We have targetted the segement of the market where people hardly go to – the low and medium income earners. In our consideration, we realised that somebody just have to cater for this set Nigerians, and we took it upon ourself to get them something also in the neighbourhood of luxury as well. Of course, there is still profit in it. So we build nice houses, gated communities and sell at moderate prices to those in that category. On top of that, if you are not able to pay, we offer you mortgage services and gove you the loan to buy it which is mutually beneficial. As you can see, UT is basically out to bridge the housing gap in the society.
You have spoken like you have the interest of your clients at heart and paramount?
At UT, we have discovered that if your clients are not happy, the business will remain stunted – it wouldn’t grow so at the heart of everything, we put the interest of the clients above all else even at the expence of our profit. We the clients are happand vice versay, we make profit, and that is why we make every of our product affordable. At ut, it is always customers first. Our products are also tailor made. The client can come to us and discuss their terms as regards what they can afford. We are very flexible. We can make it suit your particular purpose. And that is why our concentration is on client satisfaction.
So far, what inroads have you made in this journey of satisfying customers and providing affordable housing at the same time?
So far, UT Homes is currently building a number of houses in Mowe – about 10 units in that particular location. It is a test run for that area, and people are already subscribing. And they like it. Honestly, they are fantastic buildings in a gated community. It is a place someone can acquire as a second home for relaxation at moderate price. At the same time, UT is in JV with another company in GRA, Ikeja to build about 18 – 20 units with swimming pool and other luxuries. These apartments will be rented out, also at affordable prices.
Again, we are discussing with another company in the Aja area of Lagos for another set of apartments. We build, beat the cost down for the customer as it suits the environment.
What are the enabling environments as regards government policy, staff welfare and prolific builders that have propelled your firm to this height?
There are particularly no great challenge as God in the first place is involved in all our activities. The enabling environments are very positive. Lagos state for a start; it has been smooth sailing. In Ogun State, there was a bit of challenge and delay, but everything worked out in the end. The secret is have your paper work in good stead and there will be no problem. In terms of workforce, we have the best hand both in the field and in the office. Our builders are reputed and the equipment used are superb. Again, land is readily available as there are a lot of people who have seen our worth and what we can do and are willing to go into joint venture with us.
Let’s put it succintly; why would I choose UT Homes among the plethora of home providers scattered everywhere?
The secret lies in this simple expression – we care. Let me surprise you – you can call us after you have bought and concluded transaction with us, in fact at anytime. UT Homes will sell to you a solid property made with the best of materials at the best of prices as well. We don’t just present ourselves to you as UT Homes; we present ourselves to you as your partner in growth, and monitor you every step of the way, resolving problems and challenges as they arise. It is that caring syndrome which most companies in the business don’t have. Over the the last 10 years, our client will testify that we actually do care.
Do we take it for granted that by ‘we care’, you mean you also offer after sales services?
Of course, we really do after sell services. More especially, once you are a UT customer, you have definitely become a family member and we go with you all the way. Take this scenario: a customer comes for loan from us, use it to start up his business and eventually pays up will still receive our assistance when they run into problems. There are more a handful of such cases. We don’t say because you have repaid our loan so we should leave you to stew in your own juice – no. We go with you all the way, and that is the meaning of we care. Once you have come into the fold, we see you as a client forever. Note that most of these challenges are not even UT’ s problems, but we will always listen. We direct them to the right places, help them correct basic presentations and all what nots. And that’s the basic difference – We care.
Now, let’s break down the ‘we care’ policy
By we care, we mean we care. We make our rent affordable. We care to train our staff on friendliness towards the customer. We care to consider your business even after you are through with us. We also care enough to help you navigate your business. This is beyond the scope of our business. Our rates are above all, fantastic.
In five years, where do you see UT Homes?
In five years, I see UT Homes spread all over Lagos. We are already giving good returns on investment, delivering quality products, which, as they are adding up, people continue to notice. And when they do, they come looking for us, and that’s how the spread will multiply. However, the ultimate is catching the attention of the Lagos State government towards replicating what we do on a greater level. That’s where I see us going.
Any possibility of spreading beyond Lagos State and across Nigeria?
Well. we are already in Ogun State and will soon be in Port Harcourt and other places. We already have a strong presence in Ghana and we are moving on.
What would you say to those aspiring customers out there looking for you?
Come let us discuss, and you will be happy you did. Come to 1437 Sanusi Fafunwa, Street, Victoria Island or 3/5 Regina Omolara Street, off Opebi Road, Ikeja.
Thank you very much Mr. Adebajo