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Zenith @32: A bank difficult to match

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COMFORT EKELEME, Business Editor 

Remaining focused on set goals and readiness to be proactive have been the major reasons Zenith Bank Plc has continued to record huge successes in the last thirty-two years of existence as one of the Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) in Nigeria.

Interestingly, going into the remaining part of 2022, the bank will focus on sustainable growth across all its business segments and deploy technology platforms and digital assets intuitively to serve its millions  customers’ needs to deliver enhanced returns to its stakeholders.

Over the years, Zenith Bank has continued to thrive on the strong values, brand equity, the corporate culture of professionalism, and service excellence which are the foundations upon which it was built.

Established in May 1990, Zenith Bank commenced banking operations in July of the same year with a capital base of $4 million at inception.

At the end of the 2021 financial year, the Bank’s customer deposits stood at N6.47 trillion, a development industry watchers believe will increase at the end of this financial year, following the strategies and innovations put in place by the bank.

The growth in customer deposits, the bank said came from both corporate and retail customers, adding that retail deposits grew by N146 billion from N1.72 trillion in 2020 to N1.87 trillion in 2021.

Following its success stories in the last thirty-two years, industry watchers have, however, described Zenith Bank as one of the financial institutions in Africa that others might wish to beat, but are difficult to match.

Over the decades, the bank has continued to grow its profits, living up to the expectations of stakeholders. For the fourth consecutive year, Zenith Bank has been ranked as the number one banking brand in Nigeria with a brand value of $275 million, moving up two places from 392 in 2020 to 390 in the 2021 global ranking of banks. Notably, Zenith Bank is the only Nigerian bank among the first 400 banks in the global ranking.

Speaking with Daily Champion, a Shareholder Activist, Alhaji Olatokunbo Gbadebo recalled that Zenith Bank was one of the new generation banks at inception that came with mission/vision statements that were more focused and determined.

He said that the management of the bank was focused on the set goals with doggedness and proactiveness.

According to him, Zenith Bank has in the last 32 years of existence,  lived up to the expectation of stakeholders, adding that the standard on its objectives was always on the edge to birth the set goal at all times, leading to the huge success recorded in the bank today.

He further noted that the establishment of the bank came with more determined objectives, saying that has remained to date.

“Zenith Bank has been a bank with many advantages on policies/products that were there to make things easy for impressive advantages on the new ways of doing businesses; therefore we couldn’t expect less from the bank,” he said.

Speaking further, Olatokunbo maintained that Zenith Bank continues to distinguish itself in the Nigerian financial services industry through superior service offerings, unique customer experience, and sound financial indices.

He noted that the bank is the clear leader in the digital space with several firsts in the deployment of innovative products, solutions, and an assortment of alternative channels that ensure convenience, speed, and safety of transactions.

In its unaudited results for the first quarter ended 31st March 2022, the bank recorded a growth of 22per cent in gross earnings from N157.3 billion reported in the First Quarter (Q1) of 2021 to N191.5 billion in Q1 2022.

Profit After Tax (PAT) also grew by 10 percent, from N53.06 billion to N58.19 billion over the same period. The growth in the topline arose from both interest income and non-interest income.

Interest income grew by 25per cent, from N101.12 billion in Q1 2021 to N126.38 billion in Q1 2022, while non-interest income grew by 12per cent, from N51.20 billion to N57.23 billion.

Also, the growth in interest income and non-interest income arose from the combined effects of an improvement in interest income on loans and advances (as risk assets continue to grow and pricing is gradually improving) and an improvement in non-interest income as the Bank continues to deploy its retail strategy, thereby acquiring more customers and expanding its electronic banking income from the increased volume of transactions across all its channels.

Total assets grew by 9per cent from N9.45 trillion to N10.32 trillion in 2022, mainly driven by growth in customers’ deposits. Customer deposits grew by 12per cent, from N6.47 trillion in December 2021 to N7.25 trillion in March 2022. Savings account balance, which is solely retail grew by over N68 billion and is a validation of the robust customer acquisition strategy and versatile electronic platforms and digital channels.

Loans and advances also grew by 6per cent, from N3.5 trillion in December 2021 to N3.7 trillion in March 2022, boosting the Group’s interest income and displaying the Group’s appetite for high-yielding risk assets creation. This development also helped to boost the Net Interest Margin (NIM), as it improved from 6.0per cent in March 2021 to 7.3per cent in the current period, while the capital adequacy ratio improved slightly from 21.1per cent to 22.1per cent.

Over the last 32 years, Zenith Bank has clearly distinguished itself in the Nigerian financial services industry as an institution that is committed to building a more sustainable and inclusive economy and one that promotes responsible business practices in Nigeria through the integration of sustainability principles in its business operations.

Zenith Bank’s Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility (CSR) initiatives are hinged on the belief that today’s business performance is not all about the financial numbers. The Bank believes that an institution’s social investments, contributions to inclusive economic growth and development as well as improvements in the condition of the physical environment, all constitute a balanced scorecard.

Through its CSR initiatives, the Bank has embodied the overarching objective of the 17 SDGs, which provide a framework for addressing the major challenges confronting our society. Its social investments are targeted at health, education, women and youth empowerment, sports development, and public infrastructure enhancement.

The Bank remains committed to furthering the economic, cultural, and social development of host communities, particularly through community-based initiatives and philanthropy. As a good corporate citizen, it continues to deliver projects that have long-term social and economic benefits for the communities because it believes that its business is only as strong as the communities in which it operates.

To demonstrate its commitment to creating and expanding opportunities, the Bank regularly makes donations towards the setting up of ultramodern ICT centres in several educational institutions across the country. It also supports various developmental projects, and healthcare delivery causes in Nigeria and contributes to the development of sports through its sponsorship of the Zenith Women Basketball League and the Zenith Bank Delta State Principals’ and Headmasters’ Football Competitions, to mention a few.

The Bank also demonstrates leadership when its host communities deal with a crisis. For example, following the unfortunate gas explosion incident of March 15, 2020, which led to the loss of lives and properties at the Abule-Ado area in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State, Zenith Bank made a donation of NGN100 million to the Emergency Relief Fund set up by the Lagos State Government for the victims of the explosion.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Zenith Bank’s commitment to sustainability has not waned, as the Bank donated N1 billion as part of the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), a private sector-led initiative to support the Nigerian Government to combat the Covid-19 crisis.

Zenith Bank’s track record of excellent performance has earned the brand numerous awards, including being voted as Best Bank in Nigeria in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards, for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, Best Commercial Bank in Nigeria in the World Finance Banking Awards 2021, Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2020, and Best in Corporate Governance’ Financial Services’ Africa 2020 and 2021 by the Ethical Boardroom.

Also, the Bank emerged as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands 2020 and 2021, Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital in the “2021 Top 1000 World Banks” Ranking by The Banker Magazine, and the Retail Bank of the year at the BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BOFI) Awards 2020 and 2021.

Similarly, Zenith Bank was honoured as Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020 and emerged winner in four categories at the Sustainability, Enterprise, and Responsibility (SERAS) Awards 2021, carting home the awards for “Best Company in Reporting and Transparency”, “Best Company in Infrastructure Development”, “Best Company in Gender Equality and Women Empowerment”, and the coveted “Most Responsible Organisation in Africa. It also bagged the Champion Newspapers’ 2021 Bank of the Year which will be conferred on the financial institution on Friday June 3rd at the Champion Awards slated for the Convention Centre, Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island Lagos.

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