By OBINNA EZUGWU

Despite the tight macro-economic environment, Fidelity Bank Plc has again beat expectations by delivering impressive 2019 full year result.

The lender which has over the years sustained sterling financial performance, showed strong growth across key income and balance-sheet lines.

The bank reputed for Small & Medium Scale Enterprises support, declared Gross Earnings growth of 14.0 percent to N215.5bn from N189.0bn in 2018.

Its Profit before tax rose by 21.0 percent to N30.4bn compared with N25.1bn recorded in the previous year. Similarly net profit surged by 24 percent, from N22.9bn in 2018, to N28.4bn in 2019.

Buoyed by its performance, the bank plans to pay a dividend of 20kobo translating to N5.8bn compared to the dividend of 11 kobo paid in 2018.

In other indices, Net Interest Income increased by 13.2 percent to N83.1bn. Net Operating Income rose by 15.6 percent from N97.2bn to N112.3bn whilst Total Assets grew by 22.9 percent from N1,719.9bn to N2,114.0bn in the period under review.

Commenting on the results, Fidelity Bank CEO, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo expressed delight with the performance.

“We are delighted at the results which clearly showed that we sustained our performance trajectory and continued to increase our market share driven by significant traction in our chosen business segments”, he said.

On Digital Banking, he said the results were enhanced by new initiatives in the retail lending segment and the deepening of the bank’s existing digital products.
According to him, “We now have 47.4 percent of our customers enrolled on the mobile/internet banking products, 82.0 percent of total transactions now done on digital platforms and 31.1 percent of fee-based income now coming from our digital banking business”.

He further stated that the efforts aimed at strengthening the bank’s foothold of the retail market, is yielding significant results with savings deposits rising by 20.7 percent to N275.2bn making it the 6th consecutive year of double-digit growth.

“Savings deposits now accounts for about 22.5% of total deposits, an attestation of our increasing market share in the retail segment” stated Okonkwo.

Just as was seen with deposit growth, there was also a corresponding increase in the bank’s retail assets. Specifically, retail loans grew by 42.9 percent to N53.8bn, driven by the bank’s new digital lending products and partnership with Fintechs. As at December 2019, the bank had disbursed over 70,000 micro-loans on our flagship digital lending product (Fidelity FastLoan) in partnership with Migo.

Conversely there was a remarkable improvement in Non-performing loans (NPLs). The bank’s NPL ratio dropped to 3.3 percent from 5.7 percent in the 2018FY due primarily to the growth in the loan book and a 25.1 percent decline in absolute NPLs resulting from the loan write-offs of over N12bn.

“It is an impressive performance. The bank may have come up with strategies that gave it advantage over its competitors. However, let’s wait and see what it is offering as dividends”, said Managing Director of High Cap Securities Ltd., Mr. David Adonri

Fidelity Bank has continued to move against the head and tail winds. A combination of innovations, personalized customer services have calibrated its rating as a top financial institution.

Analysts believe that Fidelity Bank Plc is now playing in the league of the big banks such as First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GTBank), Zenith Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) and Access Bank Plc which are seen as the banks that make the biggest impact in the banking industry.

Those who have followed the growth of the bank have rated it as a tier 1 financial institution. Yet, some analysts perceive the bank as one of the best managed in the banking industry. Industry experts hinged this perception on the highly experienced and qualitative persons in the management cadre.