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Guaranty Trust Bank plc (GTBank) on Wednesday has released its unaudited financial results for the nine months ended September 30, 2017 to the Nigerian and London Stock Exchange with Profit Before Tax (PBT) gaining 8.7 per cent to N150 billion from N137.99 billion reported in nine months of 2017.

The group Profit After Tax also rose by 7.3 per cent to N125.6 billion from N117.08 billion in prior nine months of 2016, driven by 36 per cent increase in interest income to N248 billion from N181.9 billion reported in nine months of 2016.

The Bank’s Loans and advances to customers dipped by 10 per cent from N1.590trillion recorded as at December 2016 to N1.43trillion in September 2017 and customer deposits decreased by four per cent to N1.89 trillion from N1.98trillion in December 2016.

The Bank had proposed interim dividend of 30k per ordinary share of 50 kobo each for period ended June 30, 2017.

Commenting on the half-year financial results, the Managing Director/CEO of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Mr. Segun Agbaje,  said that  “Despite the challenging environment of slow economic growth, we focused our resources on strengthening relationships with our customers, creating business platforms that seek to add value across all customer segments, whilst consolidating our leading position in all the economies in which we operate”.

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Banking

LCFE, Heritage Bank, others unlock N445trn commodities ecosystem for economic industrialization

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Lagos Commodities and Future Exchange (LCFE), Heritage Bank Plc, Capital Market players and other stakeholders have unlocked the $1trillion (N445trn) commodities ecosystem as avenue to diversify the economy from a crude oil dependent economy to other critical economic sectors.

This was revealed at the historic Commissioning Ceremony and Official Launch of Lagos Commodities & Futures Exchange, with the theme, “New Order, Driving Nigeria’s Economy Through the Commodities Ecosystem,” on Thursday in Lagos.

This feat, according to key stakeholders will catalyze and transform the Nigerian economy to create value, wealth restore growth and build global competitive economy.

Giving his Goodwill message, the MD/CEO of Heritage Bank, Ifie Sekibo, specifically stated that as the Lead settlement bank in partnership with key stakeholders that are critical to the success of this project, it considered the launch of LCFE as huge potential to unlock the opportunities and wealth of the four asset classes- Agriculture, Solid Minerals, Oil and Gas and Currencies.

“I believe that this is the beginning of how we are going to possibly create values in areas that hitherto we have taken for granted. First thing it will bring about is sustainable commodity trading ecosystem, being a catalyst for capital formation, unlocking the long-time financing for the solid mineral and mining space. A frontline push to diversify the economy of this country from oil,” he emphasized.

Hinting on the partnership, Sekibo explained, “the Collaboration between Heritage Bank and LCFE is designed to align the market to transparent price discovery, standardised platform for trading of commodities across defined asset classes and straight through processing to settlement.”

He affirmed that the promotion of investment in commodities ecosystem by Heritage Bank in partnership with LCFE in its various assets traded Agriculture, Solid Minerals, Oil and Gas and Currencies would increase liquidity support from local commodity exportation to boost the race for the $200billion in FX repatriation and reduce the pressure on exchange rate.

Sekibo added that the partnership was one of the many initiatives of the bank’s foundational objectives of wealth creation, preservation, and transfer across generation.

In his address, the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu who appreciated the efforts of all the stakeholders, stated that the successful commissioning of LCFE will better fulfil the catalysts of growth which is to attract cutting-edge ideas and innovation and improve the inflow of financial transactions and great ideas that will enable businesses to flourish.

This, according to him, will improve the living environment, for businesses, and for the investments in Lagos and our country.

Akin Akeredolu-Ale, MD/CEO, LCFE said, “As we are all aware, the Capital size of the Nigerian Commodities Ecosystem is so large and like I have said in the past, it can be considered as a $1trillion economy cutting across Agriculture, Oil and Gas, Solid Minerals and Currency. With a capitalisation this large, it was important to lay the right foundation as the means determined the end for us and we could not afford, not to get it right.”

He said the Exchange identified that Nigeria’s crude oil has been traded extensively outside the country in Switzerland and other areas by large scale trading companies.

“Nigeria produces only high value, low sulphur content, light crude oils – Antan Blend, Bonny Light, Bonny Medium, Brass Blend, Escravos Light, Forcados Blend, IMA, Odudu Blend, Pennington Light, Qua-Iboe Light and Ukpokiti This makes Nigeria’s crude very desirable.

“By way of sovereignty, our oil and gas products should be traded and priced within Nigeria. 400,000bbls on arbitrage can be traded on the LCFE. Whenever prices drop, we can plan for our trades in the future. This will boost the balance sheet, enhance liquidity, and shore up the value of the Naira; External reserve will become both external and internal reserves. The Exchange is currently setting up frameworks and structures to achieve this and more details will unfold in due time,” Akeredolu-Ale explained.

He noted that one of the asset classes in which LCFE has made tremendous giant strides in is the Solid Minerals asset class.

“We noticed there was an urgent need for structure, regulation, funding, and data collation in this sector and this is where Commodities Exchanges play strategic roles in introducing structure to this ecosystem,” he stated.

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BOOSTING SMES GROWTH THROUGH FIRSTSME ACCOUNT

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited created FirstSME Account to add to its SME product family in support of small and medium scale business owners by sustaining and expanding their business. AMAKA IFEAKANDU looks at what the facility offers and how SMEs owners can key in to boost their businesses.

There is no doubt that Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs) are essential for rapid and sustained economic growth and development of any nation, including Nigeria, Africa and other growing countries of the world. First Bank of Nigeria Limited, the nation’s most valuable bank brand, has over the years shown commitment towards the success and growth of SMEs business in Nigeria.

The bank has severally introduced different customised products to provide solution that would grow SMEs in the country. Given that SMEs industry is the backbone of the economic development and the major contributor to employment  opportunities and export growth, First Bank is committed to ensuring  the sector  sustains business growth by providing all the necessary financial support needed to grow their businesses and Nigeria economy at large.

Although the SME sector is awash with various industries and business, FirstBank is always at the forefront of packaging products and service that suit their various businesses. The bank, which has been in existence for over 127 years, has been a pillar of support to businesses in Nigeria and always develop the right products to provide flexible and dependable services that would help SMEs achieve the expected growth profile in all areas of their business lines.

 

FirstSME Account 

The FirstBank’s leading SME Initiative – FirstSME account – was specifically created on August 2020, to support SMEs towards the sustenance and expansion of their businesses.

The FirstSME account, which comes in two variants – FirstSME Classic and First SME Deluxe – is offered to SMEs irrespective of industry and a tailor-made current account with a clear value proposition aimed at harnessing the huge opportunities available in the SME sector in Nigeria.

The product also exposes SMEs to a wide range of services that are essential for their continued growth and playing their roles in contributing to national development.

Apart from supporting SMEs, FirstSME account is also available to all non-individual entities like Limited Liability Companies, Public sector institutions, Enterprises/Sole proprietorships, Partnerships & Associations, Religious Bodies, Traders NGOs.

Benefits to customers

FirstSME account has been beneficial to a lot of companies, especially SMEs, in terms enhancing the capacity to sustain growth. The major benefits of these accounts include; access to Temporary OverDrafts (TODs) and other facilities subject to meeting Risk Adjustment Capital (RAC) of each product; immediate enrollment on all digital platform; free access to FirstBank SME events; free access to extensive business promotional and networking opportunities on the SMEConnect portal; access to a wide range of discounted and promotional offers and access to SMEConnect.

Other opportunities

Other available opportunities for operating   FirstSME account is its connection to   SMEConnect initiative of FirstBank which is a platform through which SMEs access the bank’s unique description   that will equip them with the essential tools required for the growth of their business.

The SMEConnect portal is also designed to help SMEs identify various gaps affecting the growth of their business. Beyond financial support, SMEConnect offers strategic advisory services, business seminars periodic updates as well as information that will guide you in growing your business.

 

Importance of SMEConnect

SMEConnect is created to bring under one umbrella relevant resources, products and services aimed at helping SMEs in Nigeria. FirstBank has tailored -made products targeted at the specific needs of SMEs in Nigeria. These loan products have been designed for financing the activities of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) under the U-First Scheme

The leading financial institution also provides Business Advisory and Support services and business-oriented credit access, customer/market, financing structure, access/availability of raw materials sales/cash flow  projections, marketing/distribution/logistics  and business strategic plan.

The platform provides other features including the SME Connect blog, business categories, e-newsletter, special offer and upcoming events and programme.

Accessibility/criteria for opening account 

The FirstSME classic account is specifically designed to support small scale enterprises to   grow and scale up their business with a minimum opening and operating balance of N50,000 and turnover limit caps at N100 mIllion with annual maintenance charge on the excess at 0.50k/mile.

The account also attracts Zero/mile annual maintenance charge subject to minimum operating balance and turnover limit.

But on the other hand, the FirstSME Deluxe account expects holders to have minimum opening and operating balance of N500,000 and N1 million respectively with zero annual maintenance charge subject to minimum operating balance and with no turnover limit caps.

FirstSME Connect’s scope of coverage

FirstBank’s SMEConnect services cover small/medium scale manufacturing firms, merchants (both suppliers, distributors), professional firms including law, consulting, audit, agricultural, Churches, Mosques and NGOs whose annual debit turnover is between N5 million and N500 million.

SMEs and FirstBank’s FirstSMEs account

The FirstBank’s FirstSME account is unique when compared with other SMEs accounts operating  in the  nation’s banking industry and the  bank is passionate about helping SMEs to grow on all fronts

 Another thing that makes the product stands out from products of other banks  is that FirstSME customers get to enjoy services such as; zero account maintenance charge, access to webinar/training, various credit facilities, workplace resources, access to SMEConnect portal and directory and It is specially made for MSMEs and SMEs.

SMEs’ importance  to FirstBank 

 Across the globe and Nigeria in particular, SMEs are known to be responsible for the majority of new jobs created and they are crucial to Nigeria’s success in the global economy, in so many ways namely: For government, SMEs, contribute to wealth creation and generate tax revenues; in business, SMEs represent an important source of innovation and in the society, they are an important source of employment.

Furthermore, SMEs drive consumption because they operate in every sector of the economy, and they have extensive local knowledge of resources, supply patterns and purchasing trends. In the same vein, the sector constitutes an important source of local supply and service provisions to larger corporations and makes a significant contribution to the revenue profile of most financial institutions.  The SME sector stimulates growth and development within the economy.

NBS data

Available data from Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that SMEs in Nigeria have contributed about 48 per cent of the national GDP in the last five years, account for 96 per cent of business and 84 per cent employment. With about 1.7 million people , the sector accounted for about 50 per cent of the industrial jobs. In other word, SMEs is one of the sectors that cannot be ignored in any given country

These also imply that First Bank of Nigeria Limited understands what it takes to turn around the nation’s economy, knowing fully well that supporting the SMEs will bring multiple effects on individuals, society and economy in general.

The bank also has deeper understanding that providing support, loans facilities and training to SMEs through SMEConnect would not only help their business to thrive, but increase employment opportunities, reduce high rate of crime, open doors for more investments in the country and bring return on investment and increase  individual’s  ability to save.

Impacts beneficiaries/economy 

The FirstBank FirstSME account will go a long way to reducing cost of operating corporate account which frees up funds for the beneficiaries to grow their businesses faster. The resultant effect on the economy is the increased growth of SMEs.

Challenges of SMEs

Without any iota of doubt, the SMEs in the country is faced  with different challenges ranging from poor capital structure, high cost of production, limited access to long term funds, poor business continuity/succession plan, weak value chain: supply, distribution, logistics, poor managerial and technical skills to lack of access to international market.

 The FirstBank’s FirstSME account has  provided an answer to some of the SMEs challenges by its readiness and commitment to  providing  the Nigerian SMEs with the  necessary support needed to grow their various businesses

In all, for any SMEs company  to move its business to the next level- both locally and internationally-, such business owner needs to open FirstSME account to avail him/herself of all the advantages provided by First Bank of Nigeria through its SMEConnect.

Operating FirstSME account is one step away from any form of distress, as all the  training opportunities from SMEconnect and credit facilities embedded in the account  will help to revive the company and place it on the path of growth.

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FIRSTBANK BAGS A HAT TRICK OF AWARDS AT THE GLOBAL BANKING AND FINANCE AWARDS 2021

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial services provider, has been awarded the 2021 ‘’Retail Banking CEO of the Year Nigeria’’, ‘’Most innovative Retail Banking App Nigeria’’ and ‘’Best CSR Bank Nigeria’’ awards by Global Banking and Finance magazine.

The respective awards conferred on the Bank are in recognition of the indelible roles it plays in deepening financial inclusion in the country; advancing the digital banking eco-system as well as impacting people in its host communities with technology to make learning available to individuals of all ages, amongst many others.

The Global Banking and Finance Awards reflect the innovation, achievement, strategy, progressive and inspirational changes taking place within the Global Financial community. The awards were created to recognize companies of all sizes which are prominent areas of expertise and excellence within the financial world.

With its over 750 branches and 100,000 Firstmonie Agent banking network spread across the nook and cranny of the country, FirstBank’s robust retail banking framework has been at the forefront of bridging the financial exclusion gap, thereby empowering Nigerians to carry out their financial and business-driven activities in contributing to national growth and development.

Also, in order to put customers ahead in enjoying state of the art digital banking services, the Bank’s industry-leading banking application, FirstMobile, is configured with modern banking functionalities which are regularly upgraded and designed with self-service features to ease the navigation capability and proficiency of customers to carry out their respective transactions with no hassles.

The smart banking application is also embedded with a card protection service for customers to enable and disable cards on channels, account switch off as well as second-factor authentication and device registration. With the upgraded FirstMobile, customers can remotely initiate the request for a new debit card as well as the replacement of a lost or damaged one.

Woven into the fabric of society for over 127 years, overcoming challenges and remaining a dominant player in Nigeria’s financial services landscape, FirstBank has been partnering and supporting various sustainable activities towards the continued growth of its host communities and the nation at large.

As a responsible corporate organisation committed to supporting all its stakeholders in the most sustainable manner possible, the bank partnered with various state governments through the private sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) intervention to promote the readiness and efficiency of health care professionals and other compatriots at the forefront of fighting the pandemic.

The Bank also forged a formidable partnership with the Lagos State government, Robert & John, IBM and Curious Learning amongst others to promote e-learning of school children that were affected by lockdown at the height of the pandemic. The initiative is still enjoyed by thousands of individuals, irrespective of age.

Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, the CEO of FirstBank commenting on the awards said ‘’we are proud to be recognized with these awards, which speak to the investments we have made over the past years in bolstering our electronic platforms for our customers; enhancing financial inclusion through agent banking as well as empowering our communities in the education space especially by bridging the digital divide through e-learning initiative.

These awards are dedicated to all our customers, as the trust they reposed in us being their bank of first choice in meeting their business and financial needs has been instrumental to the success we have achieved in our existence of over 127 years. We remain committed to putting You, our customers First as we contribute to the growth and development of our host communities” he concluded.

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