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JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT VOLUME 3 NO 1, MARCH, 2005

MERCHANT BANKS FORTUNES AND STRUCTUREAL CHALLENGES OF UNIVERSAL BANKING IN THE PORT HARCOURT BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT

Dr. Prince U. C. Agundu, Ayakema Masa, and Joseph I. Onyema are Lecturers in the Department of Banking and Finance, Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt.

Ishmael D. Diri, Bank Executive and Management Consultant based in Port Harcourt

ABSTRACT
This study examined universal banking and its impact on the fortunes merchant banks in the Port Harcourt business environment. To achieve the purpose of the study, questionnaire and personal interview instruments were used, and this involved 15 executives of five merchant banks operating in Port Harcourt metropolis. The techniques adopted in the analysis of data included tabulation, simple percentage, and chi-square (X2). The findings indicated that, although the advent of universal banking has opened up a new era of banking (intensifying competition and enhancing stability), it has not yet meaningfully (positively) impacted on the fortunes of merchant banks. It is strongly recommended, therefore, that merchant banks should accentuate electronic banking, financial/managerial training/development, interconnectivity with other banks, and allied corporate profitability improvement strategies for the good of all stakeholders.

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