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FY17: Wema Bank Grows Earnings by 20% as NPL Ratio Drops to 3.52%

By Dipo Olowookere

Mid-tier lender, Wema Bank Plc, on Wednesday released its audited financial result for the year ended December 31, 2017.

The innovative bank, which launched ALAT, Africa’s first fully digital bank, confirmed the growth of its gross earnings by 20.07 percent from N54.36 billion in FY2016 to N65.27 billion in FY2017.

The growth was supported by the launch of ALAT, Nigeria’s first fully digital bank enhancing Wema Bank’s already existing alternate platforms which recorded a combined growth rate of 205.67 percent in transactions executed and with an estimated 30,000 accounts opened monthly.

In the financial results analysed by Business Post, the lender recorded a drop in its profit before tax by 7.38 percent to N3.01 billion in the period under review from N3.25 billion in the previous year.

Also, the profit after tax went down by 11.72 percent to N2.26 billion from N2.56 billion.

Furthermore, the financial institution’s total assets depreciated by 8.46 percent to N388.15 billion last year from N424.04 billion two years ago.

In addition, customers’ deposits declined by 10.18 percent to N254.46 billion in 2017 from N283.30 billion in 2016.

However, shareholders’ funds increased in 2017 by 2.31 percent to N49.62 billion from N48.50 billion in 2016.

During the year under review, Wema Bank’s loan to deposit ratio was 84.82 percent from 70.86 percent as at December 2016, while the Non-Performing Loans (NPL) Ratio closed at 3.52 percent in 2017 versus 5.07 percent as at December 2016.

Also, the NPL Coverage Ratio was 136.98 percent as at December 31, 2017 compared with 100 percent as at December 2016, while the Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) stood at 14.32 percent in the period under review.

Commenting on the results, Managing Director/CEO of Wema Bank, Mr Segun Oloketuyi, provided further insights into the performance of the bank during the period.

“Despite the slow start to the year, 2017 recorded significant progress, highlighted by the introduction of the Investor & Exporters (I&E) window and recovery in oil prices,” Mr Oloketuyi noted.

“Our target market is the upwardly mobile youth segment, the young entrepreneurs, the young professionals and the financially excluded, where we continue to leverage incremental innovation and integral capabilities. For us, banking should be simple, reliable and convenient,” he added.

In view of the bank’s commitment to incremental innovation, the lender was recognized as the Best Digital Bank, Best Mobile Banking app, Digital Banking Platform of the year, Best Digital Bank in Africa, Best & Most Innovative Digital Solution and Excellence in Branchless Banking by World Finance, the Asian Banker and Business Day – reputable organisations located in Africa, Europe and Asia.

“We continue to execute our omni channel business model with precision, as we made in-roads to Kaduna, Bauchi, Kano, Mararaba (Nasarawa), Warri, Aba, Sangotedo (Lagos) and Lagos State University (LASU). Furthermore, we recorded increases in the number of strategic partnerships forged and expect this trend to further gain momentum.

“In October, the bank held its Extra-Ordinary General Meeting (EGM) towards its proposed Capital Reorganisation Scheme.

“I am delighted to announce that the exercise has been concluded, with all relevant regulatory approvals in place and duly passed and reflected in the 2017 financial year accounts.

“As earlier highlighted, the conclusion of the exercise would lead to an efficient balance sheet, as ploughed back profit can be capitalised to grow the business while positioning the Bank for dividend payment in the near term.

“I would like to appreciate our esteemed shareholders for their patience and the trust reposed in us. We are now in the final stage of our three-pronged strategy; stabilise the bank (2009 – 2012), reposition the bank (2013-2017) and grow the bank (2017 and beyond).

“We approached the money market in November 2017 to raise N25 billion in two Series under a commercial paper Program; Series 1 N10 billion – 182-day tenor and Series 2: N15 billion- 270-day tenor.

“Given the relative decline in interest rates and possible growth within the economy, the bank will be re-opening the 2nd series of its N50 billion debt issuance program. This should commence from the second quarter of the year,” Mr Oloketuyi said.

According to the Wema Bank MD, the bank’s commitment to excellence positioned it for a top-8 finish at the 2017 KPMG Banking Industry Customer Survey. It, therefore, stressed commitment to improving its capabilities towards the attainment of sustainable competitive advantages, especially a top-5 finish in 2018 and increasing market share.

In his own review of the result, Chief Finance Officer of the financial institution, Mr Tunde Mabawonku, noted that the bank’s 2017 result was reflective of its continued resilience despite realities arising from increased impairment charges during the period.

The bank’s earnings from non-interest income remained strong, growing by 24.44 percent from N9.80 billion in 2016 to N12.19 billion in 2017; surpassing its 2017 guidance of a 19 percent growth rate.

“Risk management remains at the core of our operations, as we leverage on our prudent risk management practices and reported a Non-Performing Loan (NPL) ratio of 3.52 percent (2016; 5.01 percent) while our Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR), closed at 14.32 percent (2016; 11.07 percent).

“We remain confident, that the Bank’s credit rating will continue to remain affirmed at investment grade level,” Mr Mabawonku noted.

He expressed the bank’s commitment to sound risk management while leveraging its digital platforms, built capabilities in lowering the cost of service and attaining competitive advantages.

“In addition, with our positive retained earnings account, the balance sheet has now been repositioned for efficiency,” Mr Mabawonku concluded.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

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