Nnamdi Okonkwo, MD, Fidelity Bank.
Nnamdi Okonkwo, MD, Fidelity Bank.

By OKEY ONYENWEAKU

In a departure from industry trend, Fidelity Bank Plc put smiles on the faces of its shareholders last week when it announced a dividend pay-out of N3.12billion.

The announcement was part of the bank’s annual results for the year ended 2018.
The top tier lender, against all odds, raked in 30.6 per cent increase in profit before tax (PBT)for the year ended December 31, 2018.
The lenders PBT rose from N19.21billion to N25.08billion in 2018. Its profit after tax for the period also grew 29 percent to N22.93 billion from N17.77 billion recorded a year ago. Gross earnings of the lender appreciated 4.8 percent to N188.87 billion from N180.24 billion declared in 2017 financial year end.

The Bank has offered investors a final dividend of 11 kobo per share for the period ended December 31, 2018 same amount paid the previous year, amounting to N3.186 billion as final dividend for the full year ended December 31, 2018.

The bank has remained on a strong growth trajectory since 2014, having grown profit before tax from N15.515billion to N25.08billion in 2018. EPS has leaped by 64 per cent while Net Asset per share has increased from 598kobo to 702kobo same period.

Whereas analysts have hinged the qualitative performance of Fidelity Bank on creative ways it operated in 2018 which helped it harness and cultivate opportunities in the areas of fee and commission, interest and similar income and interest received to grow its bottom line.

However, the bank’s income tax almost doubled in 2018 unlike what was in 2017. But this did not deter the bank which has over the years demonstrated strength, creativity and innovation that has caught attention of the industry stakeholders who are impressed with the financial performance in the 2018 financial year.
The bank showed signs of growing strong top and bottom lines at the end of 2018 when profit before tax soared in the third quarter.

In nine months result, Fidelity Bank reported Gross Earnings growth by 6.9% to N139.0 billion from N130.1 billion reported in the same period in 2017 whilst profit-before-tax soared by 23.6% from N16.2 billion to N20.1 billion.

In other indices, total assets grew by 21.9 % to N1,680.8 billion from N1,379.2 billion in the same period last year. Total deposits; a measure of customer confidence, increased by 27.3 % to close at N986.8 billion from N775.3 billion in 2017

We are delighted with our 9 months financial performance with the continuing execution of our medium-term strategy which has further yielded positive results, leading to impressive growth across key performance indices including profitability, total deposits and balance sheet size etc. Fidelity Bank CEO, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo had said.
Okonkwo had told stakeholders that the bank will continue to escalate the adoption and migration of customers to its digital platforms in order to increase its retail banking market share through the delivery of innovative products and services.

“We will enhance our robust electronic banking processes and products thereby deepening our hold on the retail and commercial markets, small and medium scale enterprises and niche corporate clientele” he had said.

Analysts believe that the bank’s performance was encouraging and an improvement on the achievement of the previous year.

‘’There is significant improvement on what the bank achieved last year and the management is doing well. However, it is a conservative bank which is doing a lot to reposition itself’’, Mike Ezeh of Crane Securities said.

With presence in the major cities and commercial centres in the country complemented by innovative digital banking products and channels, Fidelity Bank was rated as one of the Top 4 banks in the retail segment in the recently published KPMG BICSS.

Fidelity Bank is one of the financial institutions that can boast of operational professionalism in the entire industry. Banking has been described by many as a business of trust and confidence. They also think that bankers must be conservative in order to avoid operational lapses that could pose grave danger to the bank. Credit mismatch and over-stretching of capacity were the experiences that resulted in margin and oil and gas loan crisis

Well traditionally, Fidelity Bank has always been a well-capitalized and liquid bank that is why as far back as a year ago, we had increased our retail clients to make sure that we build up enough low cost deposit to help us ensure that liquidity is not a problem’’, Okonkwo had told Business Hallmark in an interview.