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Heritage Bank’s MD calls for more impactful role in banking to aid speedy economic recovery

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In the quest to aid speedy economic recovery and impactful service delivery to stakeholders caused by macro-economic headwinds and Covid-19, banking sector’s players have been charged to maximize the opportunities by re-strategizing its roles that will address emerging risks.

The MD/CEO of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo made the call during the 47th Quarterly Meeting of the Association of Chief Audit Executives of Banks in Nigeria (ACAEBIN) with the theme “Elevating Internal Audit’s Role in the Face of Emerging Risks and Opportunities” held virtually on Microsoft Team’s platform, which was organized and hosted by the Heritage Bank, at the weekend.

Sekibo who was represented by his Executive Director, Jude Monye, whilst addressing internal auditors of banks, inquired from the bankers on the readiness of the Internal Audit function to lend the necessary support in exploiting and maximising the opportunities without impairing their independence.

He, however noted that with the rapid changing developments forced by the pandemic sweep across globe that have upended organisations in every sector of the economy, banking inclusive; internal auditors would notice that their modus operandi are outdated.

To this end, he stated that this was the most auspicious time for Chief Audit Executives to rethink how they perform various aspects of their audit assignments.

Sekibo suggested that auditors must “become versed in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, data analytics, fraud management, regulatory pronouncements, forensics etc and having equipped himself, present balanced, objective audit reports to Executive Management while striking the right balance between the assurance and consulting responsibilities.”

He further hinted, “Embracing new processes and tools to modernize and maximize the audit function helps not only with the perception of internal audit’s value, but also the reality of its contributions. Opportunities to evaluate include virtual auditing, electronic workflow management, and distance team-building and development.”

According to him, it becomes imperative for audit teams to embrace change, harness it and use this season to strategize on what internal audit can be in the future, whist noting that only Chief Audit Executives that maximize the opportunity to refresh and reposition will make their role more relevant and impactful for stakeholders.

Meanwhile, he commended auditors for their contributions to the industry including inputs made in shaping policy directions by regulators and the fight against fraud and other financial crimes which helped in no small measure in deepening confidence of the banking public.

In the same vein, the Chairman of ACAEBIN, Yinka Tiamiyu, reiterated the need for internal auditors to maximize opportunities of the current challenges facing the industry, as each day brings new developments that directly influence the likelihood and potential impact of banking future.

According to him, there are challenges on our part as Bankers in meeting up with the needs of our customers and the general public, and we must ensure that such challenges are surmounted.

He stressed on the need for regular annual audit plan to be reviewed quarterly to address current events that have significant impacts on the business, whilst ensuring that the key players continuously provide banking services to customers in a convenient and safer way.

“On our part, the need for improvement in service delivery and safety of customer’s funds as we digitalized our product offerings are concerns facing the industry, as such we must not relent in our efforts to get strong authentication mechanisms as we make our services more convenient and easier for Customers.  Banks should strive to find solution to the problems associated with identity theft as we pursue digital products and inclusive banking. This is to ensure that customers are happy with us and complaints minimized,” Tiamiyu urged internal auditors of banks.

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FIRSTBANK PARTNERS LSETF TO OFFER FUNDING AT ATTRACTIVE INTEREST RATE TO LOW-COST PRIVATE SCHOOLS IN LAGOS STATE

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial inclusion services provider, has announced its partnership with Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) in a matching fund scheme.  The scheme aims to cushion the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on low-cost private schools by ensuring lending at an attractive interest rate.

 

The programme will provide access to finance where participating schools can each be availed up to N5 million as well as capacity development, business and financial advisory. There will be monitoring and evaluation to ensure prompt loan repayment.

 

To enjoy this funding opportunity, applications will be submitted via the LSETF portal for screening while successful applicants will be passed on to FirstBank for the loan appraisal and disbursement process. The loan is meant for working capital and asset finance to enable schools resuscitate their practice, acquire needed materials, upgrade their facilities, as well as pay staff salaries in order to bounce back, especially after the lockdown.

 

This scheme promotes entrepreneurship in Lagos State which is in tandem with the vision of LSETF to create employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for Lagos residents. It has provisions for Micro Enterprises (ME) and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) across all the 57 LCDAs in the 20 LGAs in Lagos State.

 

Sanwo-Olu, the Executive Governor of Lagos State said the N5 billion Education Loan Programme was a precursor to many more human development sector-specific support programmes that would be unveiled by the LSETF on behalf of the State Government next month.

The Governor explained that the intervention was necessary, given the importance of education to building human capital. He said his administration took education as critical building 21st century economy and realising objectives set out in the T.H.E.M.E.S. agenda.

The beneficiaries, Sanwo-Olu said, will have access to single-digit loan facilities to fund the provision of the amenities and services needed to aid learning.

He said: “It is thus heart-warming to have First Bank of Nigeria electing to be our exemplary partner for this intervention. With their support, players in the education sector would be getting the financial support they need to boost learning at a single-digit interest rate.

“I also commend the Board of LSETF and the management for this significant accomplishment. They have helped the Lagos State Government build an institution that has engendered public trust and elevated the hope of small businesses and young people, irrespective of challenges faced.”

According to Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, “at FirstBank we recognise the indelible role played by the education sector in the growth of any economy and this underscores our partnership with Lagos State Government for continuous development of the education services in Lagos State and the nation as a whole. The commitment by the Lagos State Government – including this partnership – to enable schools is quite commendable as this will mitigate the challenges caused by the lockdown on the education sector following the COVID-19 pandemic.”

 

“With the single-digit funding targeted at about 2,000 low-cost private schools in the State, we are delighted at this opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the development of education in Lagos State, thereby contributing our quota to further the mandate of the Lagos State Government – in partnership with LSETF – on economic growth, enhanced opportunities for employment and bridging societal gaps in education,” he concluded.

 

Commenting on the Eduloan programme, Mrs Bola Adesola, Chairperson, Board of Trustees, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) stated that; “According to the NESG the Education Sector remains a growth area for job creation and a report on job creation by the NBS states that the Education Sector is one of the top 5 sectors that created over 59m jobs in 2019. This fact is buttressed by the data collected by LSETF in previous loan programmes. The objective of the LSETF-FirstEdu loan is to create employment, improve the quality of education for our youth by providing access to affordable finance to low-cost private schools and vocational training centres.

 

“We are confident that this intervention fund, which is complemented by our free professional and institutional support structures, will ensure that the education ecosystem in Lagos State will witness an improvement in the overall learning outcomes for our children, while positively impacting on the Lagos local economy through wealth and job creation.,” she stated.

 

Only recently, FirstBank partnered with the Lagos State government, Robert & John, IBM and Curious Learning with a resolve to enable the education of 1 million Nigerian students through innovative eLearning solutions that will drive sustainable efforts towards improving education for all. As part of the partnership, the Bank donated 20,000 units of e-learning devices to the Lagos State government.

 

These partnerships reinforce FirstBank’s “You First” brand promise of putting not just its customers first but the economy of its host communities.

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FBN Holdings posts 56.65% growth in profit in 6 months

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By Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma

FBN Holdings Plc on Wednesday announced Profit After Tax (PAT) of N49.5 billion for the six months that ended June 30.

The PAT represented an increase 56.65 per cent when compared with N31.6 billion achieved in the corresponding period of 2019.

Profit Before Tax (PBT) grew by 14.36 per cent to N41.4 billion from N36.2 billion posted in the comparative period of 2019.

FBN Holdings unaudited results released by the company by the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) show that gross earnings stood at N296.4 billion from N280.3 billion in 2019, an increase of 5.74 per cent.

Also, its total assets stood at N7.1 trillion, an increase of 14.9 per cent against N6.2 trillion achieved in December 2019.

Its customer deposits rose to N4.4 trillion compared with N4. 0 trillion in December 2019.

Commenting on the results, Mr Urum Kalu Eke, FBN Holdings Group Managing Director, said they reconfirmed its consistent focus on enhanced shareholder value.

“The H1 (first half) 2020 financial results are impressive and reconfirm our consistent focus on enhanced shareholder value.

“Despite the difficult operating environment, the H1 results demonstrate our resilience and capacity to deliver on long-term ambitions.

“The growth in profit after tax for the period is a testament to the strength of our organisation to continually deliver exceptional services to our customers in these unprecedented times.

“We have been able to achieve this feat by leveraging our agent banking network, innovative e-banking capabilities, and operational efficiency, utilising technology,” said.

Eke said that FBN Holdings successfully divested from the underwriting (insurance) businesses to focus on banking operations.

“We are confident this will enhance greater value to our stakeholders and strengthen the group’s resolve to consolidate its leadership of the banking sector.

“Following the divestment, FBN Holdings injected Tier 1 capital into FirstBank, effectively increasing its capital adequacy ration to 16.5 per cent.

“This provides a comfortable buffer against regulatory requirements with the potential to support any emerging business opportunities.

“Looking ahead, we remain cautious, but we are confident that our business is fundamentally strong to withstand any future challenge toward enhanced performance,” he said.

Also commenting, Dr Adesola Adeduntan, FirstBank Chief Executive Officer, said the commercial banking group, during the period, increased its gross earnings and PBT.

“Over the period, the commercial banking group increased its year-on-year growth in gross earnings and PBT by 6.1 per cent and 9.2 per cent respectively, despite the economic shutdown and varying degrees of challenges in the operating environment.

“Notwithstanding, we have continued to provide services to our customers with minimal disruption in a safe environment, supported by seamless transactions through our increasing agent banking network and digital platforms (FirstMobile and USSD).

“Furthermore, continuous focus on operational efficiency remains a priority, as improvement in non-performing loan ratio has further been sustained.

“As the economy reopens gradually in Nigeria and other key markets, as in the rest of the world, we are adopting a pragmatic approach with optimism on propelling our performance for enhanced profitability through customer-led innovation and disciplined execution,” Adeduntan said.

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UBA Reiterates Importance of Small Businesses, Hosts MSME Workshop

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www.securenigeria365.com

In its continuous bid to support the growth of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises(MSME) and equip them with the necessary tools aimed at strengthening and sustaining their businesses, Pan African Financial Institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc is set to organise another MSME Workshop for entrepreneurs.

The workshop which will hold on Wednesday via Microsoft Teams, will host professionals who will share their experiences and give essential tips to MSME and business owners on how to their businesses to the next level.

This Workshop which will be in two separate sessions, will specifically target financial record keeping in business which has been established as one of the major challenges that business owners face and it promises to be an eye-opener to participants.

The Founder, Accounting Hub, Chioma Ifeanyi-Eze, will take the first session as she gives insights and shares practical knowledge on Bookkeeping and Accounting Basics for Small Businesses, while in the second session, UBA’s Group Head, Tax Management, Emeka Amadi, will take participants though practical steps om Tax Management for Small Businesses.

UBA’s Group Head, Consumer and Retail Banking, Jude Anele, who spoke on the bank’s deep passion to help small businesses, explained that as the engine of any developing economy, MSMEs should be armed with the necessary tools that will help galvanise their businesses, adding that this necessitated the regular MSME workshops organised by the bank to assist both its customers and non-customers to boost their businesses.

He said, “UBA is committed to the overall growth of its customers beyond banking services, and the bank’s passion is hinged on ensuring that customers and entrepreneurs run businesses that can stand the test of time with the knowledge and experience required to take their businesses to the next level.

“Because of our interest in Businesses and customers, we conceptualised the SME workshop to fill the existing gaps observed in businesses thus assisting them to learn new ways of doing business and how to package their businesses for increased patronage,” Anele noted.

UBA’s Group Head, Marketing & Customer Experience, Michelle Nwoga, said the seminar is open to all business owners and leaders across Nigeria reiterated its important because of the long-term impact which range from strengthened confidence, skills, knowledge, and resources.

Participants who register for the Teams session here, will be trained in record keeping, cost reduction, stock compiling, financial and taxation planning, maximising opportunities, financial planning and projections.

Nwoga explained that the bank is on the constant look-out for top business personalities who are able to share their growth strategies with other upcoming business owners, adding, “Our business leaders for this workshop are experienced in every sense of the word and willing to share insight with others on how to grow their business.”

Emeka Amadi is a seasoned Chartered Accounting and Tax professional with14 years’ experience. He has facilitated several seminars and training to Finance professionals and sensitising SMEs on the importance of Tax and Accounting function in business value creations.

Chioma Ifeanyi-Eze who is the Founder, Accountinghub, a tech-accounting firm, is a Chartered Accountant. She is a recipient of several awards, both academic and entrepreneurial, as well as an amazing speaker and writer.

Kindly register: http://bit.ly/UBA-MSME-Worskhop-Registration

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