H1 2017: Wema Bank Optimises Loan Book, Keeps NPL at 4.90%


By Dipo Olowookere

Wema Bank Plc, in its unaudited financial results for the 6 months ended June 30, 2017, said some achievements were recording during the period, including further optimising its loan book by focusing on recoveries and supporting transaction with good and steady cash flows.

This, it said, resulted in a 9.38% decline in the volume of Loans and Advances, while yield on assets improved.

Its Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) increased to 12.71% (H1’2017) from 11.06%, as at FY2016, whilst NPL remained below the 5% mark at 4.90% as at H1’2017.

Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the lender, Mr Segun Oloketuyi, while commenting on the results, stated that in the first half of the year, the bank operated in an uncertain and challenging domestic economic environment.

“While we recorded notable improvements in the second quarter of the year, especially around foreign currency management, the execution of fiscal policies and the continued tight monetary policy impacted on consumers’ disposable income and invariably on banking sector performance.

“Despite the relatively tough climate, Wema Bank recorded success on a number of financial and non-financial priorities. Specifically, Gross Earnings recorded stable growth, increasing by 25.17% from N24.26 billion (H1’2016) to N30.37 billion (H1’2017).

“This growth resulted from a 25.84% increase in interest income to N25.37 billion and a 21.92% rise in non-interest income where we continue to see impressive growth, led by income from our mobile and digital banking offerings.”

Mr Oloketuyi further stated that, “The impact of the growth in gross earnings was however muted by the higher cost of funds within the sector.”

“Despite this, we still maintained a decent interest margin while recording a 10% growth in Profit before Tax (PBT),” he added.

He disclosed that Wema Bank’s growth strategy – Project LEAP – revolves around the Bank’s Retail business and this was further strengthened by the May 2017 launch of ALAT, Nigeria’s first fully digital Bank.

ALAT is the first of its kind with its end-to-end digital offering and customer interaction.

The bank’s target is to onboard an average of 1,000 new customers per day and we are on track to achieve that. The Bank also continues to improve its customer acquisition through the launch of its Agency Banking initiative and the impressive performance of its USSD platform (*945#). Indeed with this 3-pronged strategy, Wema Bank is poised to be Nigeria’s leading Retail Bank.

“We have commenced the second half of the year with cautious optimism, especially around the implementation of the needed economic reforms and execution of the 2017 budget to ensure stimulation of economic growth.

“The expectation is that the country will exit recession in the 2018 financial year, but this will be dependent on a diligent execution of the reform programme,” he added.

Further discussions with Ademola Adebise, the Deputy Managing Director, revealed that for Wema Bank, the emphasis in the next six months is to build and consolidate on the gains within the Digital Banking space, where the Bank presently leads and to improve on customer acquisition and invariably cost of funds.

In sharing the Bank’s growth plan, the Deputy Managing Director revealed that the Bank has opened three branches in the North.

The Bank will expand further with two (2) other branches within the North Central Region and at least one in the East before the end of the year.

“We continue to improve on the brand perception of the Bank, both across physical channels and through social media engagement,” according to Adebise.

The Bank has renovated more than 70% of its branch network to make these service channels more contemporary both in look and feel, and in in the provision of infrastructure. This will continue as the economic climate improves.

On the Bank’s growth plan and capital raise, Tunde Mabawonku, the Chief Finance Officer stated that, “we are also closely watching interest rates in the money market and relevant government policies to determine the timing of the second tranche of our Debt Capital issue, to further boost our ability to grow our franchise. We have continued to engage both local and international fund providers and have improved on our capacity to do business especially within the Trade Finance space.

The Bank is rated by two rating agencies (Fitch & GCR) and our credit rating remains investment grade and a stable outlook.

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