Zenith Bank has always proved that come rain come shine it will remain one of the most sought after financial institutions in not only Nigeria but Africa. Many who have keenly followed its growth trajectory do not think otherwise. It’s management has always maintained a profound touch of effectiveness and efficiency laced with qualitative and prompt service delivery.
From 1990, when the bank emerged on the Nigerian scene, its standards has stood the test of time. A contemporary reflection of this testimony is the bank presently being named as the Best Corporate Governance ‘Financial Services’ Africa 2021 by the Ethical Boardroom. The award, which was published in the June 2021 edition of The Ethical Boardroom magazine, is in recognition of the bank’s adherence to global best practices and institutionalization of corporate governance, setting an industry-wide example of best practices in that field.
Commenting on the award, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu said that: “this recognition is a testament to our commitment to quality, accountability, fairness and transparency in our engagement with all stakeholders. It is also an affirmation of the bank’s professionalism, ethical conduct and sustenance of global best practices and standards which is attributable to the joint collaboration of the management and staff”.
This award comes on the heels of several awards and recognitions that have come the way of bank in recent times for its track record of excellent performance and commitment to global best practices. Zenith Bank was voted as Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2020, Best Bank in Nigeria in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards 2020 and 2021, and Best Corporate Governance ‘Financial Services’ Africa 2020 by the Ethical Boardroom. Also, the bank emerged as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands 2020 and 2021, and Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital in the “2020 Top 1000 World Banks” Ranking by The Banker Magazine. Similarly, the bank was recognised as Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020, Retail Bank of the year at the 2020 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BOFI) Awards, and Best Company in Promotion of Good Health and Well-Being as well as Best Company in Promotion of Gender Equality and Women Empowerment at the Sustainability, Enterprise and Responsibility (SERAS) Awards 2020.
Zenith Bank has been generally adjudged a Corporate Governance compliant bank by the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) hence its listing on the Premium Board of the Exchange. The bank continues to sustain this reputation and reappraise its processes to ensure that its business conforms to the highest global standards at all times.
The bank places a premium on its core business strategy anchored on People, Technology and Service, to create value for its numerous clientele. With a team of dedicated professionals, the bank leverages its robust Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure to provide cutting-edge solutions and products through its network of branches and electronic/digital channels.
Zenith Bank’s unaudited results for the first quarter ended 31st March 2021 revealed that its Profit Before Tax (PBT) rose by 4% to N61.0 billion, compared to N58.8 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2020.
According to the unaudited statement of account its Profit After Tax (PAT) also grew by 5% from N50.5 billion in Q1 2020 to N53.1 billion in Q1 2021, despite the challenging macroeconomic environment aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The profitability, the Bank said, was driven by the optimisation of the cost of funds and improvement in non-interest income. The Bank’s cost of funds reduced significantly from 2.6% in March 2020 to 1.1% in March 2021. This was also reflected in interest expense which dropped by 45% from N32.8 billion to N18.0 billion over the same period. Non-interest income increased by 10% from N46.6 billion to N51.2 billion, driven by growth in credit-related fees and fees on electronic products.
Non-interest income was boosted by the increase in fees and commission income, which resulted from the increased volume of transactions across all the Bank’s channels. Cost of risk dropped from 0.6% in March 2020 to 0.5% in March 2021, which affirms the Bank’s prudent risk management, even as gross loans increased by 2% from N2.92 trillion to N2.98 trillion in Q1 2021.
The Bank’s customer acquisition strategy and the effectiveness of its electronic platforms and digital channels enabled it to deliver a N54 billion increment in the savings account balance, which is solely retail. Customer deposits grew by 6% from N5.34 trillion in December 2020 to N5.68 trillion in March 2021. Transactions on electronic channels also grew astoundingly as new customers continue to be attracted to the Bank’s various user-friendly digital platforms.
Going forward in 2021, the Bank expects that the ongoing economic recovery and improvements in the yield environment will translate into improved numbers for the Group. This is expected to be supported by local and international COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, rising commodity prices, and global economic growth of up to 6%, as estimated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The Group will continue to position itself to take advantage of positive developments in the domestic and global economy to deliver improved financial performance and returns to all its stakeholders.
With a market capitalization of N747.237billion; stock price year on year gain of 68.64 per cent; Earnings per share of 7.42 per cent; price earning ratio of 3.21 and share price of N23.80 per share as at Friday June 18, 2021, Zenith Bank stock remains very attractive to investors even at this troubling time in the country.
Zenith Bank is definitely still a high flying financial institution. Its response time to inquiries is swift and on the saddle, Onyeagwu has made it a point of duty to maintain good and qualitative service delivery in the bank. High net-worth customers still hold their bank dearly. However, low income persons seem not to be pleased with the financial institution which seems to have excluded them as frontline customers. This is an area that clearly needs improving. Overall however, Zenith Bank being rated positively once again by the Fitch Rating agency recently as a strong and stable bank is one more vote of confidence.
But its no time to rest. With the economy yet in a tailspin, Zenith Bank has a hard task ahead as it must continue to keep its nose ahead of its competition in a keen race for profitability and survival. And for inspiration, it can draw from the Bible story of what one of the sons of Jacob, Issachar did when he was similarly confronted with the challenge of forging ahead to greater heights:
‘Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens: And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.’ Indeed, this is the heart of the matter; invariably, the way to go.