…Dazzles stakeholders with growth across key metrics
Rising from a lower profit margin of N10.2billion and a debilitating Non-Performing Loan portfolio of 45 per cent in 2015, to an impressive profit of N147billion and a significantly lowered NPL rate of 5.6 per cent in 2022, FirstBank has proven that its back-to-back profit-making is far beyond recoveries made, but rather it’s a reinforcement of a well-articulated growth trajectory driven by a committed, competent and experienced Board and management team, writes Festus AkanbiThere seems to be a consensus among watchers of the Nigerian banking sector that these days, the changing dynamics foisted on the nation’s economy by both the current local and international economic realities are already taking their toll on Nigerian banks.As the nation’s population rises, so also the need for banking services by the people. However, the rise in population and the corresponding rise in the number of unbanked and underbanked Nigerians are creating a new dimension of competition among banks in the country.Therefore, as competition for the sphere of influence becomes fierce, analysts said only banks with a track record of consistent preparation for emerging challenges will stand the test of time, especially in a period of regime change with its attendant restructuring in the Nigerian economic policies.FirstBank Returns with Solid FundamentalsTop on the list of banks in this category is FirstBank Limited, a subsidiary of FBN Holdings Plc. This is because, from whatever angle one looks at its performance trajectory, especially in the last seven years, what is constant is the sustained growth in its deliveries coupled with its stabilisation and return to the top of the ladder of the Nigerian banking industry.The bank has over the years taken some far-reaching decisions, which observers said have created a new benchmark in the Nigerian banking industry, especially with its triumphant return to solid profitability within a period of seven years.For example, in its full-year results for 2022, the bank was been able to record tremendous improvements in all performance metrics surveyed by our correspondent. It grew the number of total customer accounts from 10 million in 2015 to 41 million customer accounts as of December 2022. Its total number of issued cards rose from seven million in 2015 to 12 million last year.Also within a spate of seven years, the number of its FirstMobile users rose to 6.1 million, while the number of FirstOnline users was put at 1.1 million in 2022. Its USSD users were said to have hit 14.7 million while the number of its total digital banking customers rose from 600,000 in 2015 to 22 million in 2022.