2018 — another year has gone by. The seconds have ticked into minutes, and minutes rolled into hours, and hours to days, days turn to months, and this year is finally at its end. I have had my fair share of highs and lows, but even more importantly, I eagerly look forward to 2019 as I reflect on some key life lessons and principles I imbibed or at least, gleaned in 2018.
Define your Goals
Set your goal(s), make it crystal clear and align all your resources towards it. Think about it every minute of the day and let it govern your activities. It should determine the social events you attend, your network of friends, partners, allies, etc. When you do this passionately and consistently, “the universe will conspire in your favour”. For now, the seemingly insurmountable challenges of achieving your set goals should be the least of your worries, because only two things matter: ‘Is it (your goal) worth the sacrifice?’, and ‘are you willing to pay the price?’. Answer a definitive ‘Yes’ to both questions and your end will be met.
Image is Everything
The world interacts with you based on the image you successfully project. Be true to your persona only and be flexible to ensure that you’re not held hostage by previously projected images.
Leadership is Tough
Nothing sufficiently prepares you for the emotional and mental drain that comes with the privileged responsibility of leading others. As you rise, you seemingly hold the success, failure, opportunities and difficulties of many who may often react towards you in ways that are hardly logical. Building leadership capacity to relate with people with patience, maturity as well as dexterity in the application of high-level emotional intelligence is most helpful to navigate leadership challenges at the top.
Mediocrity is the Enemy
Any leader that tolerates mediocrity, condones failure and ignores success is sure to lead a failed army. Doing the opposite makes you largely unpopular but keeps you on the path to success.
Hate the Game, not the Player
Conduct your business just like politics — don’t take things personal. People typically act based on their interest/loyalty. Be wise, track intentions and interests, and then predict peoples’ actions accordingly.
Be both a Leader and Manager
Lead and manage strategically. Always assign tasks that you can do yourself and execute alone if all your lieutenants fail to deliver.
History is a Great Teacher
History repeatedly narrates the tales and cycles of the greats and empires that fall, while underdogs rise time and time again. To me, this represents the greatest opportunity of life — a choice to either defend or attack, depending on your state. When on top, leave nothing to chance. When under, work with all you have to change the status quo.
It is often “The Little Foxes”
Great men often die from small and insignificant attacks. Never allow little things lie. Kill those casual unhealthy habits, dislodge weak adversaries, refuse to allow a slight pain or itch fester. Address the big issues and don’t let the simple matters slide because they will come back to haunt you.
Depth is the Key to Lasting Success
How far are you willing to go? Like a submarine, build extensively below the radar. Cover all basis, prepare for all angles, act out all possible scenarios, learn beyond the requirement, build depth beyond your rivals — it’s one of the greatest protection you can build. So again I ask: How far are you willing to go?
See It and It’s Yours to Keep
Anything the mind can see, the mind can give. All that is required is for you to believe. Impossible things have been done before. More challenging tasks are being achieved. Many more difficult exploits will yet be conquered. You just have to believe to make it happen.
Start a pot today. Not tomorrow, today
For more context, see my previous article on The “Pot” Strategy.
Refuse to be Bewitched
Beware of the three witches — Greed, Anger and Envy. Build immunity towards them and protect yourself from them in other people. They intoxicate the mind and take over your being to certain reins.
Gratitude is a potent strategy. Use it always, excessively and continuously. The only sin of gratitude is not showing it.
I know you’re wondering why but make sure you sleep. Sleep some more (and for some people, probably a bit more). It fuels and enhances your mental agility, and your mind is your greatest asset. Without sleep, you cannot function at your optimal capacity. Don’t ask me how long I sleep; I am still learning how to.
Finally, and most importantly, never limit yourself. You are potentially your own greatest ally or limitation. And until you overcome the later, you’ll keep getting in your own way. Break out of your comfort zone, try new things and embark on new experiences.
Stop fantasizing and start realizing your ambitions. 2018 is gone, live your best life now and decide to make 2019 count today.
Nonso Okpala is a visionary and serial investor. Managing Director/CEO of VFD Group Ltd and Father-In-Chief.
Secret behind MTN’s blistering performance
Despite COVID-19 disruptions, MTN Nigeria’s 2020 financials showed marked improvements compared to its 2019-year-end.
MTN Nigeria Communications Plc (MTN Nigeria) released its audited financial results for the financial year ended December 31, 2020.
Despite a challenging 2020 to individuals and businesses caused by COVID-19 disruptions, MTN Nigeria’s financial and non-financial information showed marked improvements compared to its 2019-year-end as well as prior quarters of 2020 results that were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Indeed, the evolving pandemic which intensified lockdown, remote working, and work-from-home procedures, appeared to have led to increased adoption of MTN Nigeria data and digital services.
Specifically, year-on-year on non-financial information, mobile subscribers increased by 12.2 million to 76.5 million; active data users increased by 7.4 million to 32,6 million while the company’s mobile money business continued to accelerate with a 269.2 % increase in the number of registered agents to over 395,000 and 4.7 million active subscribers from approximately 553,000 in 2019.
Year-on-year on financial information, service revenue increased by 14.7 % to NGN1.3 trillion driven principally by voice (with revenue growth of 5.9 %) and data revenues (rising by 52.2 % led by increased data use and traffic); profit before tax (PBT) grew by 2.6 % to N298.9 billion; profit after tax (PAT) increased by 0.9 % to N205.21 billion; while Earnings per share (EPS) rose by 0.9 % to N10.1 (N9.93, 2019).
Nonetheless, significant increases were noted in its operating expenditure as well as capital expenditure. First, there was a 2.3 % increase in operating expenses arising from the rollout of new sites and the impact of naira currency depreciation affecting the costs of MTN Nigeria lease contracts. Secondly, EBITDA margin declined by 2.5 %age points to 50.9 % (from 53.4 % in 2019) There were also other significant cost rises including a 25.4 % increase in net finance cost, and 19.4 % increase in capital expenditure which had a 11.7 % knock-on increase in depreciation and amortization costs.
On the back of the year-end result, MTN Nigeria has proposed a final dividend per share (DPS) of N5.90 kobo per share to be paid out of distributable income and brings the total dividend for the year to N9.40 kobo per share, representing an increase of 18.7 %. MTN Nigeria paid N4.97 as final dividend for the year ended December 31, 2019. This was in addition to an interim dividend of N2.95, which brought its total 2019 dividend to N7.92 per share.
The proposed dividend implies a yield of 3.4%. Having paid an interim dividend of NGN3.50 in 2020, the proposed dividend, if approved, will bring the total dividend per share to NGN9.40 or c.19% higher compared with 2019. We expect a positive reaction from the market due to the marked improvement in earnings. However, the market’s reaction may be dampened by negative investor sentiments on equities arising from the uptick in yields on fixed-income securities.
We expect that the introduction of additional customer registration requirements requiring subscriber records are updated with respective National Identity Numbers (NIN), and the continued suspension of the sale and activation of new SIM cards will affect subscriber growth.
MTNN share price remains unchanged at the end of trading yesterday at N174 per share.
Tade Fadare PhD, is an economist, and a professionally qualified accountant, banker and stockbroker. He has significant experience working or consulting for financial institutions in Europe, North America, and Africa.
How does a bank make N19 billion a month?
The strategy for banks globally is to attract deposits at a lower rate than it lends out to borrowers.
How does a Financial Services Group make N19b a month, post a Profit After Tax figure of N230b in an environment where global commerce virtually ground to a halt in 2020?
The Zenith Bank Plc (Zenith) Year-end 2020 final results are a blockbuster, not just in the quantitative, but the qualitative as well. In all major headline numbers, Zenith posted growth on a Year-on-Year basis, specifically, Gross Earnings are up 5.2%, Net Interest Income up 12%, Customer deposits up 15.3%.
Somehow Zenith grew her loan book by 18% in a recession and reduced the volume of Non-Performing Loans in the same period. Zenith was also able to post a higher revenue number from non-interest income even as yields on fixed-income fell across Nigeria. I must stress, Zenith has posted these results by servicing her target segment of the high-end corporates in Nigeria.
So how did Zenith achieve this? I want to do a deep dive into how to make profits in a recession. However, it is important to start with a background on how banks make money which is basically in two ways;
- Interest income: which is income generated from the bank gathering deposits from customers and investors and “renting” out these funds to individuals and corporates for a fee called interest. Interest Income is seen as the main business of banks. It is a measure of how well the bank has fine-tuned its people, process, and systems to generate returns from a commodity called cash.
- Non-Interest Income: This is the income the bank generates from deploying its brands and people to juice revenues from activities that do not necessitate a transfer of cash. For Example, a bank asset management business leverages the bank’s skillsets to earn fees by providing investment advice to clients. Does a business want to expand? The bank can advise on the process to make that happen.
The strategy for banks globally is to attract deposits at a lower rate than it lends out to borrowers. This allows the bank generate a spread between cost and revenue. The bank’s interest spread can be magnified by the number of quality loans it creates as Interest Income rests also on the quality of the loan book. Positive spread drives the funding of other banking services and is supported by the banks internal competencies to manage risk
So a bank makes profits by
- Attracting cheap deposits
- Earning positive spread
- Providing value addition for a fee
- Effective Risk Management
All these have to happen simultaneously. A bank that sources expensive deposits by paying higher rates generates a lower spread. Lower spread exposes the bank to cost overruns and will prove fatal to long-term growth.
With this in mind, let’s review Zenith FY 2020 Performance
- Attracting Cheap Deposits: In 2019, Zenith’s total interest expense, which represents how much it paid to get deposits was N148b, that figure dropped in 2020 to N121b. this means the bank was able to grow deposits by 25% but at a lower cost. How? Zenith changed her deposit mix, reducing borrowed funds/leases and time deposits by 41% and 38% respectfully and increasing the share of current accounts by 155%. By swapping the deposit mix, the bank’s cost of funds ratio fell by 18mn%.
- Earning Higher Spread: Zenith grew Net Interest Income by 12.2% in 2020. This figure represents income earned from the deposits and investments of the banking group. Again, this was achieved by asset mix reorganization. In the face of falling rates especially on shorter-dated FGN instruments, Zenith shifted allocation from Treasury bills to longer-dated FGN bonds which paid a higher yield. Zenith’s Non-interest Income also grew to N275b a 5% jump from 2019. This is driven largely by extraordinary items including foreign currency revaluation gain, which is the gain realized from the revaluation of foreign currency-denominated assets. I must highlight this. Zenith was able to post a gain of about N43b which is a 256% gain from FY 2019 based on the Naira being devalued to the US Dollar.
- Providing Value Addition: Value addition will include all non-core banking services Zenith Group provides to the public including subsidiaries like the Zenith Penson Custodians which has N4t in assets under custody. Commission on agency and collection was a big contributor to Zenith’s non-core banking revenue.
- Risk Management: Zenith was efficient in deploying its internal competencies to minimize and avoid risk and impairments from the ordinary and extraordinary course of business. Zenith like other financial institutions saw a pullback in commercial activities from her clients. Take the Commerce subsector, the Non-Performing Loan share in that sector grew from 9% to 24%. Zenith, booked an increase in the number of NPLs by volume to N125m in FY 2020 but the bank was able to keep the NPL ratio down to 4.29%. An extraordinary feat.
Overall, the bank was able to navigate a difficult year and post a good return and a handsome dividend of N3 to investors. Zenith was able to achieve all this while increasing the staff strength by 4.6% to 7555 employees.
However, there are red flags as well:
- Net Interest Margin was down in FY 2020 as yields declined. If yield continues to stay muted, can Zenith keep finding profitable avenues to invest that N5.34 deposit base?
- Interest income positive in FY 2020 at 420b but when compared to 2017, interest income is falling.
- If you ignore the revaluation gain, then Non-Interest income will be considerably muted, possibly negative in FY 2020
- Fees on electronic products fell 36% in an environment where online banking has been not just sound business practice, but life-saving as well.
Overall, in an environment with months of local and international shutdowns, Zenith has posted good numbers and demonstrated it is possible to eke out gains from a hard environment. When one looks at the dividend yield, P.E. Ratio of the bank, for me, this is a Buy.
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