FirstBank targets 10million new customers with Agency banking

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—–As Fitch affirms its stable on Viability Ratings (VRs)

First bank New MDNigeria’s premier financial Institution and most valuable bank brand, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, is targeting to grow its customer base by over 10 million new customers in the next three years. The expansion is in sync with the Bank’s financial inclusion initiative.

Managing Director and CEO, First Bank of Nigeria Limited and Subsidiaries, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, who disclosed this in Lagos on Tuesday, said FirstBank currently has over 10 million customers, adding that its new management is working towards growing this to over 20 million by 2019 through a phased deployment of agency banking. Adeduntan unfolded the key strategic focus of the Bank to Editors and online publishers at a parley which had other members of the new management, including the Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Gbenga Shobo and other members of the executive management in attendance.

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Describing the FirstBank as a ‘strategically important Bank’ to the Nigerian economy, Adeduntan said the objectives of the new management which assumed office in January 2016, includes to retain the spot as the number one bank in the country and sub-region; and to continue to be fully embedded in the nation’s economy whilst delivering value to all its stakeholders. Going by its recent financial results, Adeduntan said FirstBank ranks above its peers in terms of earnings generation and remains the biggest and the largest bank in Nigeria, with over 500billion in gross earnings – the largest in the industry, adding that its liquidity ratio and capital adequacy ratio are well above regulatory required benchmarks.

Acknowledging that the Bank has some challenged loans in its portfolios, Adeduntan assured that a number of those loans are being remediated, while the management is pro-actively taking steps to recover others whilst the Bank’s entire credit management process is being reviewed in sync with the new wave of risk management framework initiatives.

Meanwhile, Fitch, a global leader in credit ratings and research on Monday released a rating which affirmed the Viability Ratings (VR) of all the Nigeria banks, Fitch has revised the SRFs to ‘B’ from ‘B+’ for the systemically important banks; FirstBank, UBA, Zenith and GTB following the downgrade of Nigeria’s sovereign ratings. The challenging and volatile operating environment in Nigeria and other key rating factors, particularly the banks’ financial profiles, constrain the VRs in the highly speculative ‘b’ range. . Despite slower asset growth and higher loan impairment charges, Fitch expects banks to remain profitable in 2016 due to still strong earnings generation and as such all banks’ National ratings have been affirmed given their unchanged respective creditworthiness relative to each other.

Adeduntan concluded by asserting that despite the challenging environment, ‘FirstBank’s fundamentals remain very strong and upside, affirming that an institution can hardly have an outlook beyond that of its operating environment a truism which rating agencies postures attest to “We are optimistic of improved stakeholders’ return as the resilience of our heritage has prepared the Bank for a time like this,” Adeduntan added.

About FirstBank

First Bank of Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of FBN Holdings Plc, is Nigeria’s leading financial services institution by total assets and gross earnings and one of the largest corporate and retail banking financial institutions in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa). Since its establishment in 1894, the Bank has consistently built relationships with customers focusing on fundamentals of good corporate governance, strong liquidity, risk management and strong capitalization.

FirstBank operates an extensive distribution network with over 750 business locations (623 branches, 61 quick service points and 69 cash centers/agencies), over 2,600 ATM’s and over 10 million customer accounts.  The Bank provides a comprehensive range of financial services and has international presence through its subsidiaries, FBN Bank (UK) Limited in London and Paris, FBNBank DR Congo, FBNBank Ghana, FBNBank Gambia, FBNBank Guinea, FBNBank Sierra-Leone and FBNBank Senegal as well as its Representative Offices in Johannesburg, Beijing and Abu Dhabi.

FirstBank is the recipient of many awards. The Bank has been named “The Most Valuable Bank Brand in Nigeria” five times in a row – 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 – by the globally renowned “The Banker Magazine” of the Financial Times Group. FirstBank’s brand purpose is to always put its stakeholders, customers and partners at the heart of its business, even as it is poised to standardize customer experience and excellence in financial solutions across Sub Saharan Africa, in consonance with its brand vision “To be the partner of first choice in building your future”. The brand promise is to always deliver the ultimate “gold standard” of value and excellence. This commitment is anchored on the FirstBank’s inherent values of passion, partnership and people, to position its customers first in every respect.

For five consecutive years, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, FirstBank was named the “Best Retail Bank in Nigeria” by the Asian Banker International Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards. Other recent awards include the “Best Bank in Nigeria” in the Euromoney Awards for Excellence, “Best Bank in West Africa” and “Most Innovative Bank in Africa” in the African Banker Awards, “Best Bank in Nigeria” in the EMEA Finance African Banking Awards for the fourth time, “Best Foreign Exchange Services in Africa” in the EMEA Finance Treasury Services Awards, “Best Banking Group in Nigeria” by World Finance Banking Awards, and “Best Financial Reporting Company” by Africa Investor.