The last has definitely not been heard of the economic impact of COVID-19, despite the seeming normalcy that is beginning to return to the economy post lockdown. The Nigerian banking industry, which has consistently been the most profitable single sector traded on the NSE and accounts for over 50% of investors’ stock traded daily, may be set for hard times ahead notwithstanding their 2020 Q1 profits and their best efforts to adapt to the new normal.
From the shutting down of the economy for months to the closing of borders and business offices of banks, here are the 3 major ways in which COVID-19 will affect the 2020 profits of Nigeria’s Lenders:
Increase in impairment and bad loans
Impairments are an additional financial cost to the lender resulting from the reduction in the creditworthiness of the borrower while bad loans are literally loans that have gone… Bad (you guessed that). Whereas bad loans are to be written off completely by the lender, impairments are deductions that should reflect in financials of the lender pending when the loans become active.
In the wake of the pandemic, the CBN took proactive measures to ensure that Banks are protected from ruinous impairments by approving the request of the Lenders to restructure loans in their books allowing more time for debtors to pay.
Notwithstanding this initiative, loans (especially in the retail space) would most likely end up being written off as unemployment rates soar and the economy slowly recovers from the effects of the pandemic. Education, aviation, and the oil and gas sector do not seem on the path of recovery yet, and their delay would most likely cost lenders with sizable exposures in their respective industries.
FX scarcity and Liquidity squeeze
These two sides of the same coin are causing painful gut-wrenching groans to be heard in the Banking sector, especially amongst lower-tiered Banks.
The oil price crash coupled with border closures have worsened Nigeria’s FX deficit and caused the CBN to employ unconventional means and policies to stabilize the Naira, even after a long-awaited devaluation.
Banks who are unable to meet the FX needs of their customers rush “cap in hand” to the CBN to get FX intervention for their corporate customers for whom the exorbitant parallel market rate is not an option. Instead of getting their requests met, their positions are debited and added to their CRR forcing them to reduce their FX demands and leave their customers dissatisfied. While this may lead to loss of deposit from these customers taking their businesses elsewhere, the major issue the Banks have with this discretionary CRR, is the foregone earnings that their extra CRR would have earned in the money market or through commercial loans.
Over N2trillion has been arbitrarily debited from Nigerian lenders since April in tranches of N1.4trillion, N300billion and N459.7billion causing some banks to have CRR in excess of the 27.5% agreed upon by the CBN Monetary Policy Committee in January 0f 2020.
The depreciating Naira is also inimical to Banks with FX denominated bonds, and is expected to impact their bottom line.
The macro economy and unfair competition
The relationship between Banks and the economy is complex. They are the gauge through which the pulse of the economy is felt, and the channel through which its life force can be restored. At no time is this complex relationship more evident than during severe economic strain, such as this pandemic. It is at this time that the Banks experience unfair competition from their regulators who are forced to provide direct, and cheaper funding to the economy sacrificing short term profitability of the Banks for long term sustainability of the economy.
In the wake of the pandemic, the CBN has provided series of intervention funds, ranging from the N50b household support, to the Agric fund, CIFI and MSME support funds at single interest rates, lower than the commercial Banks can afford.
Although the commercial Banks are listed as PFI (Performing Financial Institutions) for most of these funds, the commissions they stand to earn are in no way comparable to what it would have been had they been the direct lenders at commercial rates. This arrangement would definitely impact their creation of new risk assets and the accompanying income that would have found its way to their annual profit.
It’s not all gloom though, Bankers who chose to speak off-record claimed that the lockdown played a key role in increasing enrolments on their online platforms and the timing of the nationwide cashless policy was a “masterstroke” in ensuring that customers bought into e-channel transactions on which the Banks would earn fees and commissions. They claim that the pandemic also offered some Banks a rare opportunity to prune their operations cost without alarming their customers, as they were able to shut down not too profitable branches in some locations and redeploy their staff accordingly.
A top Treasury official in one of the new generations Banks who sought anonymity said that Banks who have earned income in FX prior to the pandemic would enjoy revaluation profit, but was quick to add that this little margin would not offset their loss of income from Letters of credit not done due to border closures, nor will it write off the rate decline in risk-free investments of Banks buying Government Bonds.
With increased cost for operational branches due to adaptability to COVID-19 protocols amongst other things, it remains to be seen how Nigerian Banks would fare in this remarkable year. Their H1 results should give more insight.
Young female professionals in insurance are constrained by inadequate opportunities – Dive In
Young female professionals in the insurance sector are constrained by inadequate opportunities, a survey has revealed.
A survey has revealed that despite the ambition to attain a top-level career, young female professionals in the insurance sector are constrained by inadequate opportunities relative to gender bias and unequal pay.
The survey, which was conducted by Dive In team, also found that female professionals in the sector face limitations on their rise to leadership amid other challenges.
The survey, which was disclosed at the Dive In Nigeria Festival webinar on Thursday, further highlighted that females are willing and ready to take up more challenging roles within the sector and have to resort to professional bodies for support and guidance in their careers.
At the webinar themed ‘Promoting Inclusion & Diversify in the Nigerian Insurance Industry for a Quantum Leap, which was attended by Nairametrics, the immediate past Managing Director, African Alliance Insurance Plc, Funmi Omo, one of the top 100 women CEOs in Africa, explained that equal opportunities, equal pay, female empowerment, and commitment from leadership in firms are crucial to the development of the sector in Nigeria.
She said, “Women should be seen as the backbone of any economy, and as such, they need to be given more attention. From the insurance standpoint, we need to have a more structural and deliberate approach to thrive. Diversity is very good, it brings about balance. Leaders have to step up to make the insurance sector more welcoming and structured. They need to be flexible and avoid being rigid and also take advantage of the newness and freshness of the younger generation. Do not micromanage them, let them explore, allow them to breathe, and make their own mistakes so they can see a future in the industry.”
Some leading females in the industry also lent their voice to the younger female professionals in insurance & finance in a campaign titled “Letters to my younger self.”
They shared lessons that would help the younger generation develop a mindset and character required for success within the sector.
Other speakers included Adetola Adegbayi, Executive Director, General Insurance Business Division, Leadway Assurance Company Ltd, a Legal Practitioner with extensive experience in Legal Research, Corporate Legal Practice, Insurance, and Financial Services; Nike Anani, Co-Founder African Family Firms, a firm dedicated to assisting second-generation family members (“NextGens”) in identifying and implementing new opportunities, shortening the journey from identification to impact.
On steps being taken to promote diversity and inclusion in hiring strategies, MD, African Reinsurance Corporation, Dr. Corneille Karekezi said, “We are aware that women are not well represented in the workplace and as such at Africa Re Group, we make special provision for women inclusion in nomination for senior roles, provision for tribal diversity and inclusion to drive equality within the corporation.”
He stressed that the mandate for them at his firm is, integrating Africa, and to achieve this, it is important that diversity and inclusion are promoted.
“Communications and the intention to achieve equality helps us ensure diversity and inclusion,” he added.
About Dive In
Dive In is a global movement in the insurance sector to support the development of inclusive workplace cultures. Its mission is to enable people to achieve their potential by raising awareness of the business case and promoting positive action for diversity in all its forms.
CBN reduces MPR from 12.5% to 11.5%
The Governor of the CBN has announced the reduction of MPR from 12.5% to 11.5%.
The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has voted to reduce the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR), from 12.5% to 11.5%. This was disclosed by Governor, CBN, Godwin Emefiele, while reading the communique at the end of the MPC meeting on Tuesday.
The committee retained CRR at 27.5%, stating that the recent inflationary pressures is not driven by monetary policies, rather as a result of structural policies.
Highlights of the Committee’s decision
- Reduce the MPR by 100 basis points, from 12.5% to 11.5%
- Adjust asymmetric corridor, from +200/-500 to +100/-700 basis points around the MPR
- Retain CRR at 27.5%
- Retain liquidity ratio at 30%
Explore the Nairametrics Research Website for Economic and Financial Data
According to Emefiele, the Committee reviewed the choices before it, bearing in mind its primary mandate of price stability, and the need to support the recovery of output growth. Consequently, the Committee noted that the likely action aimed to address the rise in domestic prices would have been to tighten the stance of policy, as this will not only moderate the upward pressure on prices, but will also attract fresh capital into the economy, and improve the level of the external reserves.
The Committee however, noted that this decision may stifle the recovery of output growth, and drive the economy further into contraction.
On easing the stance of policy
The MPC was of the view that this action would provide cheaper credit to improve aggregate demand, stimulate production, reduce unemployment, and support the recovery of output growth.
In addition, the Committee noted the tendency of an asymmetric response to downward price adjustments by ‘Other Depository Corporations’, thus undermining the overall beneficial impact of a reduction, to the cost of capital.
After all considerations, members were of the opinion that the option to loose will complement the Bank’s commitment to sustain the trajectory of the economic recovery, and reduce the negative impact of COVID-19.
He also stated that, liquidity injections are expected to stimulate credit expansion to the critically impacted sectors of the economy, and offer impetus for output growth and economic recovery.
Based on the foregoing, the Committee decided to reduce the MPR by 100 basis points to 11.5% and adjust the asymmetric corridor to +100/-700 around the MPR.
MPC projects economic growth
Recall, that the Nigerian economy contracted by 6.1% (year-on-year) in the second quarter of the year, as a result of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The MPC however, projects a positive growth in the last quarter or at least Q1 2021.
“With a persistent focus on activities meant to reverse the contraction, the MPC projects growth at positive levels in Q4 2020, or latest by Q1 2021, based on the anticipated positive results from the coordinated and sustained interventions by both the monetary and fiscal authorities.”
CBN grants Greenwich Trust Limited operational license for merchant banking
CBN has upscaled Greenwich Trust Limited to the status of a merchant bank.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has upscaled Greenwich Trust Limited and granted it, operational license for merchant banking in the country.
According to an official statement released by the firm, the entity would be known as Greenwich Merchant Bank Limited. This license allows Greenwich Merchant Bank to upscale and offer such diverse services as corporate banking, investment banking, financial advisory services, securities dealing, treasury wealth and asset management, etc., making it possible to provide increased value to stakeholders beyond its previous scope.
Explore the Nairametrics Research Website for Economic and Financial Data
Recall that the minimum capital requirements for establishing a merchant bank according to Merchant Banking Licensing Regulations in 2010 are N15 billion
With the addition of Greenwich Merchant Bank, Nigeria now has six merchant banks. The others are; FBN Quest, Coronation Merchant Bank, DSH Merchant Bank, Nova Merchant Bank and Rand Merchant Bank.
About Greenwich Trust Limited
Greenwich Trust Limited is an investment banking firm duly registered with relevant authorities such as the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). It is a diversified firm with subsidiaries such as Asset management, GTL Properties, GTL Securities Limited, Cedar Express Limited and Meyer Plc.