Ecobank Ghana on August 7, 2020, held its 15th Annual General Meeting (AGM), posting sterling financial results and maintaining its position as Ghana’s biggest bank.
This year’s AGM held virtually, highlighted strong growth in revenues and profits, strengthening of the Bank’s balance sheet as well as a dividend payout.
On performance, the bank earned a record total revenue of GHS1.58 billion and profit before tax of GHS642.4 million, marking a growth of 21% and 27% respectively over the prior-year figures. Operating expenses growth were well controlled within inflationary levels with a resultant reduction in cost-to-income ratio from 51.5% in 2018 to 45.8% in 2019.
This remarkable performance is reflective of the Bank’s consistent strategy of building a diversified business model with a focus on growing revenue and managing costs and risks, even in the face of a highly competitive environment. Ecobank also posted strong performance on all key balance sheet items, providing its shareholders with a return on equity of 25%. The Bank continues to be well capitalised with a total equity of GHS1.78 billion, one of the highest in the industry and a capital adequacy ratio of 18.58%, well above the regulatory requirement of 13%.
Ecobank Ghana ‘s credit rating has been affirmed by the Global Credit Rating Company at AA-(GH) and A1+(GH) in the long term and short term respectively with a stable outlook. The current ratings reflect the Bank’s established domestic franchise value, resilient financial performance, risk-appropriate capitalisation and adequate loan loss reserve. Given the bank’s stellar performance, the Board proposed a dividend payout of 30 pesewas per share, which was unanimously approved by shareholders.
Speaking to shareholders at the AGM, Mr. Terence Darko, Board Chairman of Ecobank said the last two years have been marked by significant changes in the Ghanaian banking sector, largely underscored by the Central Bank’s clean-up activities across the industry. This has reduced the number of banks in Ghana from 34 to 23, and led to a stronger and more efficient banking system. He gave a thorough overview of the global and domestic macroeconomic changes and how they have impacted businesses.
Touching on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Mr. Darko indicated that Ecobank was committed to building strong communities. He stated that activities of the Bank’s flagship CSR program, “Ecobank Day” provides the opportunity for the Bank to target one major CSR issue at a time. In 2019, Ecobank focused on creating awareness on the causes, prevention and management of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) with special emphasis on breast cancer. He enumerated other CSR projects that the Bank had supported, including; Children’s Heart Foundation, Ghana Medical Students Exchange program, support for over 50 students in various tertiary institutions as well as the partnerships established with the Accra Metropolitan Authority for the 2019 year-end beautification and lighting of Accra.
He further informed shareholders, about the Bank’s successful accreditation to the Green Climate Fund (GCF). This makes Ecobank the first entity in Ghana and the first commercial bank in sub-Saharan Africa to be thus accredited, confirming the Bank’s strong commitment to the protection of the environment.
Other major awards won by the Bank during the year were; the prestigious CIMG 2019 Hall of Fame Best Bank conferred on the Bank after winning the Best Bank in Ghana for three consecutive years, Mobex Innovation Awards - Fintech Innovation of the Year, World’s Best Digital Bank Award 2019 – Ecobank Corporate Banking, Global Banking & Finance Award 2019 - Best Digital Bank Ghana 2019, Sustainability and Social Investment Award for Best Company in Educational Sponsorship Projects, and Marketing World Awards – Retail Bank of the Year, amongst others.
The Board Chairman also announced changes to the Board. Mrs. Patience Akyianu, who was appointed to the Board in the course of the year under review, had her appointment ratified at the AGM while Mr. Martin Eson-Benjamin and Mrs Rosemary Yeboah both retired from the Board. He thanked the retiring board members for their invaluable contributions to the growth of Ecobank and wished them well in their future endeavours.
On his part, the Managing Director of the Bank, Mr. Daniel Sackey said; “In 2019, we demonstrated our ability to navigate the difficulties associated with an increasingly complex environment, after a challenging period in the banking sector. We drove growth by deepening relationships with our existing customers, whilst attracting new ones. We leveraged our scale and technology to make it easier for our clients to bank seamlessly with us, using their preferred digital channels. We also utilized our growing partnership propositions with key actors in the retail sector to launch our first consumer digital lending scheme called Express Loans. This enabled our customers to borrow from the Bank using their mobile phones. In the seven months of the product launch, we have advanced loans to over 1 million customers. This is a significant step in our digital drive and our efforts towards providing our clients with convenience and meeting their financing needs within affordable price points. We do this to promote financial inclusion and to positively impact their lives”.
Mr Sackey also stated that during the year under review, Ecobank carried out several upgrades on its digital platforms in response to customer feedback. This includes the enhancement of the Bank’s award-winning Ecobank Mobile, which in addition to an improved “look and feel”, now offers greater security and more features. The Bank also upgraded its core banking application through the enhanced Omniplus and Omnilite product solutions, thereby providing a versatile and robust suite of digital solutions for business customers. All these upgrades, he said, have significantly improved the Bank’s operations and allowed it to champion its self-onboarding agenda. Today, Ecobank provides self-onboarding capabilities to both individuals and businesses. These strategies have contributed immensely to the Bank’s customers benefiting from more affordable, convenient and safer banking services.
He further threw light on the support that the Bank is providing to both customers and the communities within which the Bank operates, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the measures he touched on included payment holidays and the provision of financial advisory services. Ecobank, under the auspices of the Ecobank Foundation, is also supporting government’s effort in the fight against the pandemic thus, contributing generously to the Ghana Private Sector Fund and other groups in cash and in kind.
He concluded by thanking shareholders and customers for the confidence they have reposed in the management of the Bank and the employees for their hard work and unwavering commitment to customers.