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.
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.