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At Polaris Bank, we are Positioning for Digital leadership and Market Dominance, Says CEO, Adekunle Sonola

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At Polaris Bank, we are Positioning for Digital leadership and Market Dominance, Says CEO, Adekunle Sonola

 

Leading digital financial institution, Polaris Bank has assured its customers, financial sector stakeholders, and regulators that the Bank passed its road to recovery years back.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO), of the financial institution, Adekunle Sonola, stated this in a recent interview, with PROSHAREs team of analysts noting that the Bank is currently on the growth path leading to market dominance.

According to him, careful rethinking and re-strategizing corporate plans creates the bedrock of competitive burst and business sustainability, both attributes that Polaris Bank has focused on in the last few years, working with professional bodies such as PwC, Ernst & Young (E&Y), and KPMG across several corporate verticals. “The bank has travelled past the recovery road years back; it is currently on the growth road leading to market dominance.

“Adequate capitalization is a key measure of financial health, providing comfort to depositors and affording balance sheet and business growth. The bank is presently adequately capitalized, operating well above the 10% minimum requirement for National Banks. Nonetheless, we are concluding arrangements to inject Tier II capital into the Balance Sheet to support our growth aspirations. Our shareholders are ready and willing to inject Tier I capital into the books. Having instituted best-in-class risk management practices, and maintaining adequate capitalization to support our growth objectives is not one of the bank’s immediate challenges and will not be in the foreseeable future. The new owners are committed to providing necessary support towards building a strong and resilient financial position to underwrite transactional activities of the Bank for sustainable value creation,” Sonola assured.

Confirming that the Bank now operates a two-prong ideology of controlling the funding cost and growing earning assets at economic pricing, the Polaris Bank boss noted that earning asset growth is something the Bank is driving at from both the investment and risk asset sides of the business.

“The Bank has consistently been growing its asset base year-on-year (Y-o-Y). The Bank’s recently developed strategic plan will guide the Bank to a position of being a major challenger of Tier 1 banks and be the leader among Tier II banks along all the key performance parameters. Furthermore, the bank’s focus is to be one of the most efficient deposit money institutions in the industry, delivering superior value to its stakeholders, our competition is not of size, but value creation.

“We have revamped our go-to-market structure, broadening our customer base, fine-tuning our product, and supporting service offerings, strengthening personnel sales capacities, and improving our loan onboarding processes. We are very confident our Net interest income and margin will witness considerable growth as our strategies mature.”

Clarifying that cost control is a critical part of the Bank’s tactical and strategic roadmap, Polaris Bank Managing Director said its short-term tactics come from its longer-term strategies, adding that at the tactical level, the Bank is strengthening digital deliveries, and upgrading the capabilities and offerings on Digital Bank, Vulte, for an even more intensive and intuitive experience across customer journeys.

 

Polaris Bank has also improved its digital play, as reflected in the improvement of technological interfaces that feed into the customer’s journey expectations and experiences.

“We intend to build a dominant digitally led retail franchise and continue to reshape the bank’s business processes and support technology to continuously improve enterprise agility. The key thing is to drive top-notch processes and build agility in customer responsiveness.

“The VULTE product is just one of our service offerings. Indeed, we are creating a digital service reality that is customer service-focused. The technology driving this will scale digital service delivery to enhance our customers’ product or service experiences as we front-load features that fit into their expectations and future possible journey outcomes. As financial service platforms get better and continue to be an enabler, a part of the fabric of our modern economy, we will be an integral part of the way people carry out their businesses and we will make their digital journeys an integrated friendly experience. One cannot talk too much about this, but the tea leaves are pointing to a fresh pathway to consumer banking satisfaction.”

Other areas of positive growth in the Bank include the creation of a more powerful customer service experience via improved staff productivity with the best of Polaris Bank staffers driving the process having gone through upskilling and retraining programmes. This ensures we are driving a productivity-sensitive framework that marries staff effort with measurable business contributions.

“We have zeroed in on offering superior customer experience as a competitive tool. The new world of competitiveness requires that corporations are agile and flexible, we are building this into the bank’s operational DNA. Our customer journey experiences have been deconstructed across demographics and the service propositions will soon grace banking halls in the next eighteen months at the latest.

“We plan for a stronger balance sheet, with higher loan quality, greater liquidity, larger capital, and resilience to absorb economic shocks. Our loan asset quality has improved significantly, thereby improving liquidity, earnings, and the bank’s capital. We are primed to improve our cost-to-income ratio (CIR), Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR), and Cost-of-Risk ratio (CoR). In the recent past, we saw bumps in the risk area with CoR higher than we would like, but more recently risk quality has improved leading to lower CoR.”

With a focus on customer-centricity, risk management, cost optimization, and technological advancements, Polaris Bank is seen as positioning itself as a major player in the industry, offering superior customer experiences and driving financial performance.

The Bank has been decorated as Nigeria’s Digital Bank of the Year in two successive years; it aims to position itself as a dominant digitally-led retail franchise, delivering superior value to stakeholders.

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Reasons Investors Might Purchase Fidelity Bank’s Offerings, as Identified by Capital Market Stakeholders

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Reasons Investors Might Purchase Fidelity Bank's Offerings, as Identified by Capital Market Stakeholders

Reasons Investors Might Purchase Fidelity Bank’s Offerings, as Identified by Capital Market Stakeholders

Fidelity Bank Plc started its N127.1 billion combined rights and public offers to a rousing support from the investing public as key capital market stakeholders recalled the symbolic importance of Fidelity Banks impressive growths and investor-friendly disposition over the years.

From the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) to stockbrokers, investors and customers; the N127.1 billion combined rights and public offer received unreserved recommendations, with industry thought leaders citing the performance of Fidelity Bank in its core banking operations and as a quoted company at the stock market.

They said Fidelity Banks N127.1 billion combined rights and public offer was the right way for the nations banking recapitalisation exercise to start as the bank, which has the highest corporate governance rating and an average annual capital gain of more than 100 per cent at the stock market, has strong appeal to the investing public.

Fidelity Bank is offering a rights issue of 3.2 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each at N9.25 per share.

The bank is also simultaneously offering 10 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each to the general investing public at N9.75 per share.

The acceptance and application lists for the rights issue and public offer, which opened on Thursday, June 20, 2024, are scheduled to close on Monday, July 29, 2024.

The rights issue has been pre-allotted on the basis of one new ordinary share for every 10 existing ordinary shares held as at the close of business on Friday, January 05, 2024.

The Doyen of Stockbrokers, the oldest practicing stockbroker, Alhaji Rasheed Yussuff, said Fidelity Bank has good records going for it with its history of impressive growth and profitability and dividend payments.

According to him, the bank is known to the market as a good investment, with evident records of impressive returns and corporate responsibility.

Yussuff, who was already a leading stockbroker and managing director of Trust Yields Securities Limited in 2004-2005 when Fidelity Bank launched its initial public offering (IPO) and listed its shares at the stock market, said the bank has been hitting all positive records that should encourage investors to buy more into it.

Referencing the banks impressive returns, Yussuff, who has more than five decades in the capital market and was principal dealing clerk for ICON Limited/ICON Stockbrokers in 1976, particularly noted that Fidelity Bank has been paying good dividends.

Chairman, Association of Securities Dealing Houses of Nigeria (ASHON), Mr Sam Onukwue, who recalled the founding days of Fidelity Bank in 1987, said he had watched Fidelity Bank sustained commendable growth trajectory over the years.

He said the bank has shown exceptional growth and resilience, rising from being a private merchant in 1987 to becoming one of the largest, publicly quoted commercial banks in Nigeria. Fidelity Bank is one of the seven Nigerian banks with international banking licences.

Onukwue, who is also managing director of Mega Equities Limited, said Fidelity Banks history of performance underlines the strength of its management, noting that the bank has proven to be able to keep investors trust.

Chairman, Nigerian Exchange (NGX), Mr. Ahonsi Unuigbe said the combined offer marked a pivotal moment for the bank and the financial services sector.

This is a testament to Fidelity Banks unwavering commitment to strengthening its own capital base and ensuring sustainable growth through amazing roles played by all of the professional parties to this transaction,

Unuigbe, an investment banker and former director at Standard Bank, said.

He said the new banking recapitalisation is aimed at bolstering the resilience and stability of the nations financial institutions.

According to him, the ongoing recapitalisation has set robust minimum capital requirements that will ensure Nigerian banks are not only more solvent, but also capable of supporting the growth and development of the economy.

Acting Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Exchange (NGX), Mr. Jude Chiemeka, commended Fidelity Bank for its performance and willingness to avail the investing public of every relevant information.

He assured that the NGX remains committed to supporting companies like Fidelity Bank in its quests to deepen the capital markets and fostering an environment conducive to sustainable growth and innovation.

Founder, KAM Holding, Dr Kamoru Yusuf, said Fidelity Bank has shown to be an exceptional bank with focus on the development of Nigerian economy and companies.

He said investing in Fidelity Bank will be an investment in the growth of Nigerian economy and companies like KAM Holding, the nations largest wholly indigenous metal and steel production company.

Yusuf, whose group has metamorphosed into a global business conglomerate operating in three countries across two continents, confirmed that KAM Holding has benefited immensely from financial supports from Fidelity Bank.

Yusuf, who was physically present at a session at the NGX to present facts behind the offer to the investing public, underlined the relationship between increased capital for a business-focussed bank like Fidelity Bank and the overall development of the Nigerian economy.

Addressing the investing public at the NGX, Managing Director, Fidelity Bank Plc, Dr Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, reiterated the commitment of the bank to delivering impressive returns to shareholders and supporting the growth of the Nigerian economy.

She explained that the new capital raising by Fidelity Bank was driven by its proactive business expansion plan having secured shareholders approval to raise new equity funds as early as August 2023.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)s directive on new minimum capital was released in March 2024.

The offer will increase our capacity to support our customers and their businesses.

In summary, this capital raise will help our customers to grow, their businesses to thrive, and their economy to prosper, Onyeali-Ikpe said.

She assured that with its groundswell of supports from enthusiastic shareholders, customers and stakeholders, the bank is on course to achieving the N500 billion new minimum capital base, which will clearly confirm the bank, beyond any doubt, as one of the biggest banks in Nigeria.

Onyeali-Ikpe noted that being the first bank to launch offer out of the many banks in Nigeria after the CBN directive,

Fidelity Bank has shown again to be a pace-setter.

According to her, Fidelity Bank seeks the CBN recapitalization directive as a significant opportunity for a stronger and more resilient banking industry.

We have embraced the challenge as a catalyst to propel us, towards a long-term vision of becoming a market leader across every product that we offer and segment that we sell, not just in Nigeria, but as an international bank, Onyeali-Ikpe said.

She said the proceeds from the N127.10 billion capital raising exercise would be instrumental in achieving its strategic growth plan.

She highlighted that the funds, firstly, would be deployed to drive, business growth and regional expansion.

We will strategically expand our footprints within and outside Nigeria to serve as a broader customer base and to unlock new market opportunities.

Secondly, we will have what we call technological transformation. We are committed to leveraging proprietary technology to improve operational efficiency and deliver exceptional customer service.

Thirdly, we intend to diversify and grow. By investing in information technology (IT) infrastructure and product distribution channels, we will aim to diversify our earnings base through digitalization and business expansion, Onyeali-Ikpe said.

She said the management recognised the importance of investors and are committed to delivering value to them as well.

Our track record of accelerated growth and consistent dividend payment is a testament to this, Onyeali-Ikpe said.

A recent review had shown that Fidelity Bank outperformed all major market indices for measuring returns at the Nigerian stock market, with the banks average annual return over the past five years twice the average return by the overall market and almost four times of average return in the banking sector.

A review of official trading reports at the Nigerian stock market showed that investors in Fidelity Bank have earned more than 507 per cent in capital gains over the past five years, between May 31, 2019 and May 31, 2024

Fidelity Banks share price rose by 507.14 per cent over the period, representing average annual capital gain of 101.43 per cent.

This significantly exceeds all other major return benchmarks, including the banking sector.

With 507 per cent capital gain in five years and average annual gain of more than 100 per cent, the return analysis implies that investment in Fidelity Bank is more attractive than other class of assets, including fixed-income securities such as government and corporate bonds; real estate investment and mutual funds among others.

These returns underscore Fidelity Banks immense value as a stock for all times, helping investors to hedge against inflation while preserving significant long-term value.

The high divisible nature of shares investment and high free float of Fidelity Bank, which makes the banks shares easily available, underline the bank as a most attractive investment option for all cadres of investors- small, medium and high networth; retail and institutional investors.

The All Share Index (ASI) – the common, value-based index that tracks all share prices at the Nigerian Exchange (NGX), which is widely regarded as Nigerias benchmark for equities market, recorded a five-year return of 219.61 per cent, an average annual return of 43.9 per cent.

Contrary to the significantly above average performance of Fidelity Bank, the NGX Banking Index-which tracks the banking sector, doubled by 120.53 per cent over the five-year period, representing average annual return of 24.11 per cent, more than 77 percentage points below Fidelity Banks average return.

Two other major price indices- the NGX 30 Index and NGX Main Board Index, recorded five-year cumulative return of 185.73 per cent and 265.6 per cent respectively, representing average annual gain of 37.15 per cent and 53.1 per cent respectively.

The NGX 30 Index tracks share prices of the 30 largest companies at the stock market while the NGX Main Board Index represents the largest and most diversified group of listed companies at the stock exchange.

Fidelity Bank is quoted on the main board, like most other major banks and companies at the stock market.

The average annual return of 101.43 per cent underlines that Fidelity Bank provides substantial return for investors, even where such investors had borrowed money at the ruling interest rate and the invested fund was adjusted for impact of inflation rate.

Nigerias inflation rate peaked at a high of 33.69 per cent in April 2024 while the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) recently increased the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR), otherwise known as benchmark interest rate, to 26.25 per cent.

Fidelity Banks share price, which closed May 31, 2019 at N1.68 per share, rose successively to N10.20 per share by the end of May 2024.

The ASI had, during the period, rose from its opening index of 31,069.37 points to close weekend at 99,300.38 points. The NGX Banking Index rose from 361.57 points to 797.37 points.

The NGX 30 Index, which opened the period at 1,286.68 points, closed the period at 3,676.44 points.

The NGX Main Board Index appreciated from 1,267.54 points to close weekend at 4,634.31 points.

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GTCO Recognized as Nigeria’s Leading Banking Brand

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GTCO Recognized as Nigeria's Leading Banking Brand

GTCO Recognized as Nigeria’s Leading Banking Brand

Africa’s leading financial services institution, Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc (“GTCO” or “the Group”), has added to its impressive haul of accolades as it was recently named Nigeria’s strongest brand and Best Banking Brand in Nigeria by Brand Finance and Global Brands Magazine, respectively.

These awards not only reaffirm GTCO’s position as a leading financial services group but also spotlight the Group’s enduring reputation as a customer-focused brand.

Over the years, GTCO has demonstrated remarkable commitment to shaping the future of financial services in Africa and is renowned for its innovative approach to customer service and stakeholder engagement.

The Group’s brand strength is underpinned by a strong commitment to delivering cutting-edge financial solutions, fostering meaningful customer relationships, and Promoting Enterprise using its proprietary free business platforms.

Commenting on the two awards, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc, Segun Agbaje, said:

“These achievements are a reflection of our unwavering commitment to excellence, innovation, and customer satisfaction, as well as to building a truly international brand from our proudly African roots. We are delighted to receive these recognitions and inspired to continue delivering our promise of enriching lives with every opportunity.”

GTCO is a leading financial services group with banking operations in Nigeria, West Africa, East Africa, and the United Kingdom alongside non-banking verticals in HabariPay, Guaranty Trust Fund Managers, and Guaranty Trust Pension Managers.
Its leadership in the banking industry and efforts at empowering people and communities has earned it many prestigious awards over the years.

The Group’s flagship banking franchise, Guaranty Trust Bank, was named Nigeria’s Best Bank and Best Bank in CSR at the 2023 Euromoney Awards for Excellence, Best Banking Group in Nigeria by World Finance, and Best Bank in Nigeria by Global Finance.

Guaranty Trust Bank is featured in the Top 1000 Banks in the World and Top 100 Banks in Africa rankings by The Banker.

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Union Bank Advocates for Environmental Restoration; Commemorates World Environment Day

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Union Bank promotes environmental restoration and commemorates World Environment Day

Union Bank promotes environmental restoration and commemorates World Environment Day

Union Bank, one of Nigeria’s leading financial institutions, has emphasised the importance of preserving and restoring the global habitat through sustainable environmental practices. This clarion call was made during an event organised in partnership with the Nigerian Conservation Foundation to commemorate this year’s World Environment Day.

The program, held on June 5th, 2024, at the Lekki Conservation Centre in Lagos State, brought together various stakeholders, including environmental rights activists, international partner agencies, corporate institutions, government agencies, and students of select secondary schools, to deliberate and engage in activities marking World Environment Day.

One of the main events on the day was a tree-planting exercise involving various participants and stakeholder representatives. The tree-planting activity was in keeping with this year’s celebration theme, “Land Restoration, Desertification, and Drought Resilience,” advocating for the rejuvenation and revitalisation of land devastated by deforestation, erosion, and desertification globally and in Nigeria in particular.
Speaking during the program, Patricia Iwhewhe, Head of Citizenship and Sustainability at Union Bank, echoed the importance of preserving our environment. According to her:

“Land degradation and erosion are not things stakeholders and policymakers can afford to ignore or gloss over. We all must get involved in helping restore and reclaim parts of our environment badly impacted by deforestation and desertification. Union Bank, as a sustainability champion committed to the preservation of our dear planet, appreciates and recognises the responsibility we have as humanity to look after our environment. We will continue to support and participate in programs dedicated to protecting and enriching our precious habitat”.

Stakeholders like the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) have also been invaluable partners in progress and are at the forefront of helping to preserve and protect nature and its resources. This has served to not only improve the quality of human life but also to sustain present and future generations. NCF’s advocacy over the decades has positively impacted and influenced Nigeria’s environmental policy. Union Bank will continue to be a dependable ally in supporting this noble cause of environmental preservation.

Union Bank, through its diverse range of projects and interventions, has demonstrated its unwavering commitment to bequeathing a safer, healthier, and more sustainable environment. The bank’s tangible contributions serve as a beacon of hope, inspiring a brighter and more sustainable future for all.

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