The Banker Magazine, a publication of the Financial Times of London, has named FirstBank Plc as it’s Nigerian Bank of the Year for 2012.
The award was received by FirstBank’s Head of Marketing & Corporate Communications, Folake Ani-Mumuney, from Paul Wallace, Africa Editor of The Banker and Michael Buerk, a former CNN correspondent and award host. The award ceremony, now in its 13th edition, celebrates the success and major achievements of the world’s leading financial institutions. It was attended by leading players in business and finance circles.
The award is regarded as the banking industry’s standard for banking excellence and nominees were judged by their ability to deliver shareholder returns and gain strategic advantage in terms of market visibility and positioning. According to the award committee, FirstBank led the sector largely due to its sustained topflight performance over the years across several indices.
According to the committee, “Its balance sheet, which at the end of September this year stood just shy of $20 billion, grew 23 per cent in 2011. Its net profits rose a particularly impressive 95 per cent to N66 billion ($410 million). This year looks even better, based on interim results.”
The committee also noted that FirstBank had begun to focus more on costs and efficiency in the past two years. “Plenty of emphasis has been placed on cross-selling to generate non-interest revenues, which grew 36 per cent in 2011 to N75 billion. During the same year, it halved its average cost of funds from 3.2 per cent to 1.6 per cent by attracting more low-cost deposits,” it added. The Banker acknowledged that while FirstBank had continued to build its already large network of branches, its recent focus had been on mini-branches, which are cheaper than full-service ones.