• Tue. Oct 3rd, 2023

    First Bank of Nigeria Limited has experienced a remarkable transformation over the past seven years, successfully transitioning into a leading digital bank. This achievement is evident in the bank’s impressive financial performance and its ability to adapt to the changing landscape of the banking industry.

    In contrast to other Nigerian banks, First Bank’s share price has grown by over 200 percent, outperforming the market average of 90 percent. This exceptional performance raises questions about the bank’s fundamentals and growth trajectory, as well as the role of its leadership.

    Under the leadership of Dr. Adesola Kazeem Adeduntan, who has been the bank’s CEO for 7.5 years, First Bank has undergone a significant cleanup process without raising fresh capital. The bank’s non-performing loan (NPL) ratio, which was over 45 percent in 2015, has now dropped below the regulatory threshold of five percent. This achievement reflects the disciplined and focused leadership that has steered the bank towards success.

    The bank’s improved performance can also be attributed to its focus on qualitative metrics such as pre-tax return on equity (RoE) and pre-tax return on assets (RoA). Both metrics have shown significant growth, indicating a positive trend in the bank’s profitability and efficiency. Additionally, the cost of risk has decreased from 10 percent in 2015 to 1.7 percent in the last financial year.

    First Bank’s asset size has nearly tripled in the past seven years, with total assets increasing by 167 percent. The bank’s asset growth has outperformed the industry average, demonstrating its effective risk management approach. Moreover, the bank has experienced substantial growth in its customer base, with a 276 percent increase in customer accounts and a 153 percent increase in customer deposits.

    A key factor contributing to First Bank’s success in attracting and retaining customers is its focus on digital banking. The bank has transitioned from a traditional lending-based institution to a transaction-based financial institution.

    Its digital platforms, such as First Mobile and First Online, have gained significant popularity among customers, with over 85 percent of transactions now being initiated through digital channels. First Bank has also established a strong presence in the corporate e-bill payments market, capturing 42 percent of the market share.

    First Bank’s African subsidiaries have also contributed to its overall success. Previously, these subsidiaries had negatively impacted the bank’s consolidated profit, but they now contribute 21.3 percent to the group’s pre-tax profit. The bank’s ability to navigate risks in foreign markets, such as the Ghanaian government debt crisis, showcases its commitment to effective risk management practices.

    In addition to its financial achievements, First Bank has created a positive work environment, earning recognition as a Great Place to Work. The bank offers attractive conditions of service, accelerated career growth, and training opportunities, making it an appealing choice for young professionals. This shift in perception has led to an influx of young and upwardly mobile employees, with an average employee age of 39 years.

    Dr. Adeduntan’s leadership and strategic decisions have transformed First Bank into a leading player in the emerging financial technology space. The bank’s successful transition to “brick and click” banking has positioned it as a go-to institution for both savers and borrowers. With its focus on innovation, convenience, and reliability, First Bank is set to continue its growth and maintain its position as a digital banking leader.

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