By Goddy Egene
Despite the economic challenges occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, Fidelity Bank Plc has sustained the financial performance trajectory of recent years, with another set of impressive financial results.
Details of the bank’s audited half-year results for the period ended June 30, 2020, released on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) at the weekend, showed strong growth in profits and other indices.
The bank’s gross earnings increased to N106 billion in the period under review, compared with the N104 billion recorded in the comparable period in 2019.
The bank recorded a surge in profit before tax of N12 billion, up from the N9.8 billion recorded in 2019, which translated to a 22 per cent growth.
Net profit for Fidelity Bank grew by 33 per cent from N8.5 billion to N11.3 billion in the reporting period.
Other indices also showed that the bank’s total assets rose by 13.7 per cent, from N2.1 trillion in 2019, to N2.4 trillion this year, while total deposits rose by 14.8 per cent, from N1.2 trillion to N1.4 trillion during the same period.
Commenting on the results, Fidelity Bank CEO, Nnamdi Okonkwo, said the performance for the period reflected the resilience of the bank’s business model.
“Due to the global and domestic headwinds witnessed in H1 2020, we proactively increased our cost of risk as the impact of the pandemic slowed down economic activities whilst adapting our business model to the new risks and opportunities of the new normal,” he stated.
According to him, Fidelity Bank restated its first half 2019 figures from N15.1 billion to N9.8 billion to reflect the impact of International Financial Reporting Interpretations Committee (IFRIC) 21- Levies, which was adopted for the first time on the first half 2020 financials.
“The key impact of IFRIC 21 was that our 2020 full year, the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) cost was recognised 100 per cent in our first half 2020 accounts rather than been amortised over 12 months as was done previously on our financials,” he said.
He added that without implementing IFRIC 21, profit for the period would have been N17.9 billion compared to the N15.1 billion reported in the comparable period in 2019.
Fidelity Bank has been implementing a digital-led retail strategy and digital banking gained further traction during the period with 87.3 per cent of the bank’s customers now transacting on digital platforms.
The figures are up from 82 per cent in 2019 full year, while 51.2 per cent of the bank’s customers are now enrolled on the bank’s mobile/internet banking products.
“Though digital banking income dropped by 29.1 per cent due to the downward fee revisions for electronic transactions in line with the new bankers’ tariff, we have continued to receive positive reviews on our digital channels. IVY, the bank’s chat box is rated as the clear leader, among virtual assistants in the industry, just as our flagship instant banking product (*770#) was also rated in the top tier category in the recently released 2020 KPMG Digital Channels Scorecard,” he explained.
Retail banking in Fidelity Bank has continued to also deliver impressive results.
Savings deposits in first half of 2020 increased by 32.2 per cent to N363.9 billion with the bank on course to achieving the seventh consecutive year of double-digit growth in savings.
Its savings deposits accounted for 49.1 per cent of total growth in customer deposits and now represents 25.9 per cent of total deposits, compared to 22.5 per cent in 2019 full year.
In reflection of the bank’s early conservative assessment of the sectors that were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the bank’s non-performing loans (NPL) ratio increased to 4.8 per cent, from 3.3 per cent in full year 2019.
Regulatory ratios, however, remained above the required thresholds with capital adequacy ratio increasing to 18.8 per cent from 18.3 per cent due to the capitalisation of first half 2020 audited profits, while liquidity ratio stood at 32.1 per cent.
Buoyed by the first half-year performance, the bank is optimistic about the remaining part of the year.
“We believe the new phase of normalcy will unveil some growth opportunities. We will continue to monitor and pro-actively manage any evolving risks as the Nigerian economy gradually reopens and economic activities pick up in key sectors,” Okonkwo stated.