Ambode reiterates corporate governance at banking awards

Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode

Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode

Access emerges Nigeria’s ‘bank of the year’

Lagos State Governor, Akinwumi Ambode, has lauded Nigeria’s financial institutions for their resilience in helping the government achieve its monetary policies as part of efforts geared towards economy improvement, also said there is need for strong corporate governance.

In what seemed like a night of positive commentaries and caution for the struggling banking industry, stakeholders were thrilled with revelations of performance at the yearly banking award of BusinessDay.

Already, the banking sector has attracted a lot of attention in the past one year, as it has no doubt had its fair share of the backlash expected in an economy that was battling to shrug off recession, but later caved in.

The governor noted that from then till now, practitioners are being challenged to demonstrate high level of professionalism in their quest to meet the expectation of various stakeholders, including the regulatory authorities.

Meanwhile, Access Bank Plc has emerged the Best Bank of the Year award in a contest that was open for all banks, as some emerged in other categories.The bank rode on high performance in its first half of the year, which placed it on a good stead to sustain strong year-on-year growth, scaling up its profile as one of the top three banks in all weathers. It had recorded a a positive performance in 2015 as pre-tax profit rose by 44 per cent to N75.04 billion.

The bank paid final dividend of N8.68 billion in addition to earlier interim dividend of N7.23 billion, bringing total dividend for the 2015 business year to N15.9 billion.

Cost of funds, which measures the ability of the bank to attract relatively cheaper funds, improved to 3.6 per cent in first half 2016 compared with 5.3 per cent in comparable period of 2015. Strong income growth and improved cost controls impacted cost to income ratio, which rose from 59.2 per cent in the first half of 2015 to 53.7 per cent in first half 2016.

No doubt, the banking sector remains critical to the growth of any modern economy, as it plays the role of ensuring that the monetary policy of government achieves the desired goals, especially in charting a new direction for the economy. The quest for the diversification and the development of the non-oil sector cannot be realised without ensuring access to funds in addition to other incentives.

The governor, who was represented by a former deputy governor of the state, Femi Pedro, said, it takes hard work, commitment and exceptional display of expertise to remain on the top, given the challenging operating environment.     

The present economic challenges that we are experiencing, according to him, would only bring out the best with strong corporate governance in place. “Celebrating achievers in the financial and money market institutions in Nigeria, would continue to inspire excellence and greater dedication among players in the industry.
“The pedigree of previous recipients says a lot about the industry, its reputations and institutions, which has added value to our economic despite the turbulence of the global economy,” he said.

He congratulated the organisers for sifting through collated data and financial report to shortlist deserving recipients of the 2016 banking award.
The Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank, who also doubled as the ‘CEO of the Year’, Herbert Wigwe hinged the growth of the financial institution on hard work, determination, resilience and effective adaptation to the challenging operating environment. 

Wigwe noted that the prevailing macro-economic issues had put a strain on business performance across the industry, with increased concerns about asset quality deterioration. “Despite these challenges, the bank’s asset quality remained stable, as non-performing loans remained below industry average, in line with our guidance. Our capital and liquidity levels were also sustained above regulatory limits,” he said.       

He appreciated the efforts of its bank’s team on their effortless support in the development of the institution and urged the recipients in other categories of the award to see the recognition as an inspiration and motivation to move up the ladder.

“You should continue to be shining light and brand ambassadors in the banking world, he said.Earlier in his remarks, Publisher of BusinessDay Newspapers, Frank Aigbogun, said the award is aimed at recognising and acknowledging the significant role played by the Banking and Financial institutions and those that lead them.

Aigbogun noted that the year is an interesting one for the country as the country is passing through difficult times, saying “during tough times, the tough gets going.”
“The BusinessDay banking award is the product of a rigorous process from BusinessDay’s Research and Intelligence Unit designed to feed the editorial and also drive commercial research.

“Great institutions and leaders deserve to be recognised to boost healthy competition, we would continue to promote and declare transparency in the banking industry,” Aigbogun said.

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Akinwumi Ambode
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