How FirstBank navigated through the pandemic — CEO Adeduntan

Dr Adesola Adeduntan CEO First Bank of Nigeria Ltd

Managing director/chief executive officer of First Bank of Nigeria Ltd Adesola Adeduntan has given an eye-opener on the bank’s journey through the devastating effects of COVID-19 pandemic.

In a recent interview with ThisDay, Adeduntan said the pandemic disrupted several sectors of the economy including the banking industry.

“However, FirstBank navigated the pandemic crisis successfully and recorded the best financial performance since 2015 in the 2020 financial year,” he said.

“FirstBank delivered a strong performance both on the financial and non-financial front underpinned by resiliency, digital innovation and customer centricity. On financial performance, despite the pandemic, the bank recorded significant growth in its revenue base, profitability and asset. Revenue and Profitability Performance: In the context of the pandemic, FirstBank Group delivered strong financial results, generating gross revenue of N539 billion for the year ended 31 December 2020. The Group’s non-interest income grew impressively by 24 per cent between 2019 and 2020, closing at N154.5 billion for the year ending 31 December 2020.

“The non-interest income growth was propelled by transactional and eBusiness income and credit related fees. In 2020, FirstBank Group delivered its most profitable year since 2015. The Group’s profit before tax increased from N70.8 billion for the year ended 31 December 2019 to N73.6 billion for the year ended 31 December 2020, resulting in a year-on-year profitability growth of 4 percent between 2019 and 2020. Strong Asset Growth and Stable Funding Base: FirstBank Group experienced solid total asset growth of 25.5 per cent to N7.4 trillion as at December 31st, 2020 (2019: N5.9 trillion).”

Amid the pandemic, FirstBank achieved several milestones, one of which was the launch of the FastTrack ATM in Africa, virtual payment card, Firstmonie agent credit among others.

Adeduntan’s tenure was extended last year. The bank executive said the involvement of the Central Bank of Nigeria in FirstBank is essentially about playing the role of the regulator in the interest of the bank’s stakeholders and its performance.

Adeduntan said the bank does not see the emergence of payment service banks as a threat but an opportunity.

“The introduction of Payment Service Banks (PSBs) is another step taken by the CBN in line with its goal of promoting financial inclusion and enhancing access to financial services for the unbanked, underbanked, and underserved segments of the population across all parts of the country,” he said.