Zenith Bank: Beating market expectations

World Finance Awards: Zenith Bank wins best commercial bank

Zenith Bank under the leadership of Ebenezer Onyeagwu has continued to churn out positive results as can be seen from its recently released full year 2021 financial statement, writes Dike Onwuamaeze

Zenith Bank Plc recently announced its financial results for the year ended December 31, 2021, showing impressive performance despite a challenging macroeconomic environment aggravated by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The bank recorded a double-digit growth of 10 per cent in gross earnings which rose to N765.6 billion from N696.5 billion reported in the previous year.

According to the bank’s audited financial results for the 2021 financial year presented to the Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX), the Group achieved 10 per cent year-on-year (YoY) growth in gross earnings on the back of 23 per cent YoY growth in non-interest income from N251.7 billion to N309 billion and a two per cent YoY growth in interest income from N420.8 billion to N427.6 billion.

Also, Zenith Bank’s profit before tax (PBT) grew by 10 per cent from N255.9 billion to N280.4 billion in the current year under review. The increase in PBT was due to growth in the bank’s top-line and very strong management of the treasury portfolio that increased efficiency, resulting in a drop in interest expense by 12 per cent from N121.1 billion in 2020 to N106.8 billion in the year under review. This further led to a seven per cent increase in net interest income of N320.8 billion in 2021, from N299.7 billion in 2020.

Its customer deposits increased by 21 per cent, growing from N5.34 trillion in the previous year to N6.47 trillion in 2021.

The growth in customer deposits came from both corporate and retail customers. For instance, while retail deposits grew by N146 billion from N1.72 trillion in 2020 to N1.87 trillion in 2021.

The Group’s continuous drive for retail deposits combined with the strategic rebalancing of its funding base helped to reduce the cost of funding from 2.1 per cent to 1.5 per cent in the current year.

Although operating expenses grew by 13 per cent YoY, growth remained below the inflation rate, and the Group improved its Earnings per Share (EPS) which grew by six per cent from N7.34 to N7.78.

In addition, Zenith Bank’s total assets also increased by 11 per cent, growing from N8.48 trillion in 2020 to N9.45 trillion in 2021, mainly driven by growth in customer deposits. With the steady recovery in economic activities, the Group prudently grew its gross loans by 20 per cent, from N2.9 trillion in 2020 to N3.5 trillion in 2021, with moderated non-performing loan (NPL) ratio from 4.29 per cent to 4.19 per cent YoY.

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Furthermore, the results showed that the Group recorded impressive liquidity and capital adequacy ratios of 71.6 per cent and 21 per cent, which remained above regulatory thresholds of 30 per cent and 15 per cent respectively.

In 2022, the Group intends to consolidate on the gains achieved in the previous year in all business segments and combine leadership in the industry, innovation and technology to drive improved performance and deliver enhanced returns to all stakeholders.

As a testament to its commitment to its shareholders, the bank has announced a proposed final dividend pay-out of N2.80 per share, bringing the total dividend to N3.10 per share.

Rated on key parameters such as asset quality, profitability and return to investors, Zenith Bank’s track record has remained impressive as an industry leader. In addition, the bank places a premium on its core business strategy anchored on people, technology and service, to create value for its numerous clientele.

Zenith Bank has continued to distinguish itself in the Nigerian financial services industry through superior service offerings, unique customer experience and sound financial indices.

The bank remains a clear leader in the digital space with several firsts in deploying innovative products, solutions and an assortment of alternative channels that ensure convenience, speed and safety of transactions.

The bank has been making significant progress in its retail banking drive, as evidenced by remarkable growth in transaction volumes and value across its digital platforms and strong growth in customer acquisition.

Also, as part of efforts to entrench itself in the retail segment of the market, the bank recently re-introduced its Zenith Bank Beta Life Promo Season 2. The initiative is a bi-weekly raffle promo wherein the bank would give gifts worth N150,000 each to 20 customers from February 1, 2022 to January 31, 2023. The raffle draws hold on the second and fourth Friday of each month.

To qualify, customers are expected to simply open a Zenith Bank account; fund the account with a minimum of N5,000 for the period; request and collect a Zenith Bank Debit Card (virtual or physical).

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The promo is open to new and existing Zenith Bank customers that maintain a minimum deposit of N5,000 for the period; request and collect a Zenith Bank Debit Card (virtual or physical) and download and register on the Zenith Bank Mobile App or register for *966# EazyBanking.

“If you do not have a current or savings account with us, or have a dormant or zero balance account, this is the best time to open an account, fund or reactivate your account to win exciting rewards every week. Rewards will be allocated to the winning accounts chosen via raffle draw by our computer program designed specifically for the purpose of the Promotion.

“The random selection and allocation of Prizes to the respective Winning Customers will be verified by external auditors. Customers must maintain an active account with N5000, get a card and register for USSD or download the mobile app to become a winner. You can open an account by just dialing *966# on your phone and following the prompts, or you can open an account on our website,” the bank stated.

 This is possible. However, you are encouraged to make additional deposits in subsequent weeks.

The savings promo is one out of the numerous introduced by the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Zenith Bank, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu to ensure the financial institution retains its leadership position in the industry.

This followed its recent introduction of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered Chatbot on WhatsApp named ZIVA (Zenith Intelligent Virtual Assistant), which enables customers to perform financial transactions and enjoy real-time customer service from their mobile phones.

With this solution, customers would be able to enroll by simply adding the bank’s verified WhatsApp mobile number 07040004422 on their mobile devices, agree to the legal terms of use and then initiate a conversation.

This product provides the convenience for the bank’s customers to interact and transact on a 24 hours basis on the encrypted WhatsApp platform, it added.

The bank further explained that with the capability to respond to chats/queries anchored on the existing WhatsApp platform, customers would be able to open new accounts, receive instant transaction notifications, check their balances on the go, transfer funds and top up airtime. They would also be able to confirm cheques, pay bills, apply for loans, block their accounts, and request mini statements, amongst other banking services.

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Commenting on the AI banking solution, Onyeagwu said: “The launch of ZIVA is driven by the need for additional secured channels of communication with our customers as we deepen our retail penetration.”

Speaking further on the WhatsApp chatbot, Onyeagwu noted that, “since the behavioural pattern of the modern customer dictates that they want to engage with brands over the channel of their choice, it was really important for us as a leading financial services institution and a pioneer of several technological innovations in the financial services industry to implement this solution in order to continue to create value for our teeming customers who incidentally were already using WhatsApp as a primary channel of communication.”

Onyeagwu is a vastly experienced banker and financial expert who has trained in reputable institutions of learning in Nigeria, the United Kingdom and United States of America. An accounting graduate from Auchi Polytechnic where he obtained the Ordinary National diploma in 1984 and Higher National Diploma in 1987, Onyeagwu qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1989 while he was still undergoing the compulsory National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) and was named a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (FCA) in 2003. He is an alumnus of the prestigious University of Oxford, England, from where he obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Strategy, and certificate in Macroeconomics. He also undertook extensive executive level business education in Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia Business School of Columbia University, the Harvard Business School of Harvard University (all in the United States) and Lagos Business School of the Pan African University, Nigeria.

Clearly, Zenith Bank’s commitment to world-class service standards has led to several product innovations, including the Zenith Timeless Account”, which allows Nigerians aged 60 years and above bank for free, the “Zenith Save4me a high-interest target savings account and the deployment of contactless payments and QR on ATM points, amongst others.

The bank has continued to distinguish itself in the Nigerian financial services industry through superior service offerings, unique customer experience and sound financial indices. It remains a clear leader in the digital space with several firsts in the deployment of innovative products, solutions and an assortment of alternative channels that ensure convenience, speed and safety of transactions


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