Report: Another Round of Banking Sector Consolidation Inevitable Dike Onwuamaeze

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A report by McKinsey and Company has stated that digitalisation will enable Nigerian banks to achieve between 25 and 40 per cent cost-reduction.

The report also urged banks to plan for another round of consolidation in order to thrive beyond the crisis by growing their capital base faster than the rates of inflation and devaluation of the naira.

It emphasised that another round of consolidation was inevitable given the need to meet Basel III requirements, manage the possible deterioration of asset quality and some foreign exchange-based commitments to service.
It also called for portfolio restructuring, warning that the Nigerian economy could not afford another portfolio crisis, which is likely to occur.

The report obtained yesterday and titled, “Nigeria’s banking sector: Thriving in the Face of Crisis and Bold Ideas to Help the Industry Build Resilience and Drive Long-term Sustainability,” also urged the Nigerian banking industry to boldly utilise the lessons it learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic disease interruption to drive sustainability in the industry.

It argued that bold thought and actions were required beyond the crisis, even as it enjoined banks to continue with their adjustment to a remote operating model, revisiting portfolio priorities and some valuable lessons in order to adapt to the “next normal.”

It also recommended four bold initiatives that would enable the lessons of the past few months to drive sustainability in the banking industry beyond the COVID-19 crisis.
The four dimensions, according to the report, are scale, efficiency and productivity, data and analytics as well as talent hunt.
It stated that scale could be achieved either by targeting specific market segment or geography to bring down marginal costs.

“In Nigeria, significant opportunities remain for banks to develop scale across segments—for example by targeting small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), which have significant unmet needs in the banking sector—or by targeting geographies such as the north of the country, which has been historically underserved,” the report said.
The report also said that efficiency and productivity could be attained by transforming operating models to serve customers as they would want to be served.

“The McKinsey Financial Insight Pulse survey conducted in October 2020 found that most consumers expect to increase their use of digital and mobile banking services even after the crisis, with 53 percent of consumers wanting their banks to make it easy to get a line of credit and 36 percent desiring improved bank websites to facilitate online transactions.

“In Nigeria, we’ve also seen a surge in agent-banking transactions during the crisis, opening up new possibilities for delivering services to more people at lower costs. However, these shifts may reverse unless steps are taken to hardwire new behaviors and attitudes. Now is an opportune moment for banks to revisit and interrogate matters of efficiency and productivity in a disciplined manner.

“Actions taken out of necessity during the lockdown such as online training, virtual performance management sessions, remote working for certain jobs, and adjusted operating hours for branches could be refined for implementation on a permanent basis,” the report said.

The McKinsey stated that rethinking end-to-end digital options for card subscription and renewal, PIN reset, and electronic channel issue resolution, to name a few, could unlock new growth, adding that sales and lending processes, which have been heavily reliant on physical interaction, could be reviewed to identify automation potential, especially for SMEs.
“Ultimately, reimagining these processes in line with consumer requirements will lead to a redefinition of the role (and size) of the branch network and required coverage model,” it said.

The report also advocated for improved data and analytics by leveraging technology for commercial risk and operational effectiveness because rapid shifts in consumer behavior that is driven primarily by physical distancing have led consumers to embrace digital options at a scale and pace not seen before in the country.

“This, in turn, is clearing the way for banks to ramp up their use of data and analytics to enhance services and reduce costs. Previous McKinsey research has demonstrated that data and analytics can potentially increase a bank’s cost advantage by 10 percent and improve cost-to-income ratios by up to 15 percent, even in a recession,” the report said.

It suggested risk and sales as two immediate areas that could be explored and realised through digital marketing by developing new risk models that are powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning that improve accuracy and efficiency and leverage real-time transaction data to understand market and customer dynamics.

It, however, advised banks to find the best talents that could support their shift to digital operations as “the crisis has prompted dramatic shifts in working behavior—notably working from home models— that are opening up new avenues for banks to attract and retain the skills they need to support their shift to digital.”

The report said that banks could attract talents by improving on their employee value proposition, which is often perceived to be less attractive than those of technology companies that are competing for the same talent.
It also advised banks to develop capabilities for identifying and funding viable businesses within the intervention fund category; restructuring their funding base to reflect the realities of the current CRR impact and “use this opportunity to educate the frontline on the implications of CRR and the effective cost of every deposit.”