By Dipo Olowookere
The management of FBN Holdings Plc says its strategic focus in 2022 is revenue generation through digital channels and retail product offerings.
Reacting to the performance of the company in the 2021 financial year, the team stated that efforts would be made to further drive “our synergy potential as well as continue to improve our operating model to deliver more efficiencies.”
Last year, the organisation grew its gross revenue by 28.2 per cent to N757.3 billion, with profit before tax up by 99.1 per cent to N166.7 billion and the loans and advances growing by 30.0 per cent to N2.9 trillion.
In addition, the total assets appreciated by 16.2 per cent to N8.9 trillion, reaffirming its commitment to driving revenue and profitability as it completes the balance sheet clean-up.
A thorough analysis showed that the interest income remained challenged given the moderated interest rate environment negatively impacting yields; as a result, interest income declined 4.1 per cent to N369.0 billion from N384.8 billion in 2022.
To mitigate the effect of the low-interest rate on investment securities and revenue generation, the firm remained deliberate with its intensified deposit mobilization and funding strategy to support enhanced loan growth at optimised rates leading to a 5.7 per cent increase in interest expense to N140.8 billion from N133.2 billion a year earlier.
Conversely, non-interest revenue grew by 96.1 per cent to N364.6 billion from N185.9 billion on the back of increased fees and commission income, treasury activities and other operating income.
Additionally, and in line with its focus on further enhancing revenue generation capacity, First Pension Custodian Limited, a subsidiary of FBN Holdings’ flagship subsidiary, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, entered into a definitive agreement with Access Bank Plc for the planned acquisition of the entire share capital of Access Pension Fund Custodian Limited held by Access Bank Plc.
The idea behind this move is to boost its market share in the industry, aid revenue diversification and support annuity income as FBN Holdings plan to create quality loans with a focus on retail lending driven by technology as we continue to grow non-interest income to further diversify revenue.
In 2021, the company operated in a challenging operating environment that was pressured by high inflation and currency devaluation, the effect of which increased operating expenses by 14.2 per cent to N334.2 billion from N292.5 billion).
However, this 14.2 per cent is below the inflation level of 15.6 per cent in the previous year whilst regulatory costs also rose during the period, up 23.2 per cent y-o-y.
Despite the inflationary push factors, operating income grew 35.5 per cent to N592.8 billion from N437.6 billion, resulting in an improvement in cost to income ratio to 56.4 per cent from 66.8 per cent.
It was observed that in the year, deposits from customers increased by 19.5 per cent y-o-y to N5.9 trillion from N4.9 trillion, reaffirming its strong market access and robust funding base.
In the year, total assets grew by 16.2 per cent y-o-y to N8.9 trillion from N7.7 trillion driven by a 30.0 per cent y-o-y increase in customer loans and 26.3 per cent increase y-o-y in investment securities. Cash and balances with central banks, loans to banks & customers and investment securities constituted 87.2 per cent of total assets compared with 83.4 per cent of the preceding year.
The firm, while reacting to the figures, stated that, “As a financial service holding company, driving synergies remains a critical part of our strategy and has been integrated into every aspect of our delivery model.
“We pride ourselves in the uniqueness of our diversified portfolio and the collaborative ecosystem that we have built around our lines of business, our customers, and the unique value proposition that we deliver.
“We are also increasingly leveraging technology – artificial intelligence, robotics, and other next-generation technological advancements, to deepen collaboration and further drive operational efficiency across the group.”
“Following years of strategic restructuring of the Bank’s balance sheet and operations, the commercial banking business is beginning to transition into a sustained growth phase delivering performance commensurate to the size of our business and capabilities of our people. Profit before tax is up 77.9 per cent, gross earnings 30.3 per cent, total assets 15.9 per cent and customer deposits up 19.5 per cent.
“We continue to record progress in Asset Quality and Risk Management stemming from our retooled and strengthened risk management architecture.
“On the back of this, non-performing loan ratio further declined to 6.1 per cent from 7.7 per cent while coverage ratio improved to 62.2 per cent from 48.0 per cent.
“With a cleaner balance sheet and resilient earnings-generating capacity, First Bank (Nigeria) was able to accrete capital buffers from organic earnings. Hence, despite the increase in loans and advances, Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) remained steady, marginally increasing to 17.4 per cent versus 17.0 per cent in 2020,” it added.