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HOW FIDELITY BANK EMERGES SIXTH TIER 1 BANK   

Fidelity Bank, a financial institution well known for its ingenuity and audacity, changes status, becomes Tier 1 Bank

Amos Adetunji 

 Fidelity Bank, one of Nigeria’s most innovative banks has finally joined the country’s five top banks in the exclusive Tier-1 league. .

The recognition came from its strong Tier-1 Capital , one of the key parameters used for ranking of banks in the Weighted Proshare Bank Strength Index of 2021 [see the table below]. The procedures employed by Proshare Nigeria , an influential financial firm , is in line with the global standards as a tier bank ranking is usually globally  based on Tier-1 capital and other relevant metrics. .In this sense, many things including capital adequacy, the bank’s financial strength from the regulator’s point of view and other issues such as common stock, disclosed reserves, retained earnings and minority interests in equity of subsidiaries were also factors that did not escape the evaluators keen eyes for details.

The success story of Fidelity did not take anyone unaware . Everybody, including the management and staff of the bank, industry watchers or even the banking public saw it coming; it was indeed a victory foretold. For instance, in 2021, Fidelity Bank’s capital adequacy ratio was not only awe-inspiring, it was also the envy of its peers in the sector. As a matter of fact, its capital adequacy ratio stood at 20.1 per cent in 2021 and that was how the bank overtook ETI, First Bank, Wema, UBN, FCMB and Sterling with 14.8%, 17.4%, 15.45%, 14.6%, 16.88% and 14.8% respectively.

Similarly, Fidelity has one of the best assets qualities with 2.9 per cent non-performing loan ratio with Stanbic Bank as the only challenger.  The average score of Fidelity Bank for the ranking is 31.3 . By this it beats ETI , First Bank ,Wema ,UBN ,FCMB and Sterling Bank which scored 30.1 ,28.29 ,26.88, 26.56 ,26.41,and 23 respectively

Clearly, this elevation is producing intense feeling of euphoria in the Fidelity family, and this is understandable for various reasons. In fact, the promotion could not have come at a better time, and the bank is soaking it in and working round the clock to justify the confidence reposed in it by regulators and assessors. But who would not, given the highly competitive environment that faces today’s banks, especially in this era? This vote of confidence on Fidelity Bank by Proshare Nigeria Limited, an influential financial firm therefore promises to strengthen the bank and position it for the coming high-level impact that is already within touching distance.   

 Expectedly, the ranking is generating a real buzz within and outside the financial sector. Luckily for the bank, the positive reactions are also reverberating and engendering hope and confidence among investors and the banking public. Speaking recently on Fidelity Bank’s favourable outcomes in the banking industry, a top-ranking staff of the bank said: “This ranking is a demonstration of our resilience and doggedness as an institution given the very challenging macroeconomic environment which had a significant deleterious impact on business globally. It is also an affirmation of our commitment to delighting and creating value for our customers through a broad range of superior product offerings, best-in-class services and top-of-the-range technology’. He also expressed his appreciation to the bank’s numerous customers for making Fidelity their bank of choice.

Before now, Fidelity had actually showed perceptive industry observers that it was the bank to watch. In addition to all its exploits in the last few years, the bank also has the credit of successfully issuing the largest Tier-11 Local Bonds in Nigeria. This success in issuing 10 years N41.21 billion in fixed rate unsecured subordinated bond at 8.5 per cent coupon rate due in 2031, the impressive portfolio of landmark transactions structured by the bank and its other remarkable operations show the bank’s ability to successfully execute debt capital market transactions and other ancillary duties.

However, many people are excited about Fidelity’s commitment to creating employment by assisting owners of small businesses across the country. For example, last December, the bank announced its decision to issue fixed income securities with 10-year in support, growth and development of Small Medium Enterprises, SME’s, Retail Businesses as well as an upgrade in its technology infrastructure. At the end of the day, the bank successfully conducted the debt issuance under its registered N100 billion bond issuance scheme and drew attention to itself.

In his reaction to the significance and success of the bond issuance, Mustapha Chike-Obi, Fidelity Bank Chairman said that the bond issuance is a demonstration of the bank’s confidence in Nigeria’s debt market. “It all validates the continued investor confidence in our corporate strategy and aspirations, strong corporate governance structure and solid and stable executive management team with robust history of superior financial performance and returns”.

In the same vein, Fidelity Bank Chief Executive Officer, CEO, Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe assured that the proceeds from the transaction would be utilized judiciously in support of growth in the issuer’s risk assets in SME and retail businesses. According to her, Fidelity’s giant strides especially under very harsh economic climate brought about by the Corona Virus pandemic and the fact that they stayed afloat in spite of the challenges is an indication of the stuff they are made. She added that all the hard work and efforts are all in line with the bank’s Tier-1 aspirations which is now a reality. “This successful bond issuance highlights the confidence in Fidelity brand, as well as our capability to expand our funding sources, and deliver innovative financial services to our esteemed customers”.     

Another undeniable fact is that Fidelity Bank’s service delivery, values and innovation are improving by leaps and bounds and this is clearly the face of the future. In the coming years, there is every likelihood that the bank will sustain the momentum as it continues to work harder in the race for relevance dominance and more recognitions.  

In many quarters, there is a belief that Fidelity Bank’s string of successes may have only just begun. Those who hold such view hinge their argument on a solid and visionary management team and a highly motivated workforce that are willing to travel the extra mile to sustain these achievements.

Steering the leadership wheel of Fidelity is Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, a woman of uncommon financial and management skills who knows where she is headed. Since assuming office as the bank’s first female CEO on January 1, 2021, she has left no one in doubt about her vision and mission. Above all, she is also very conscious of the verdict of history, so she is not leaving any stone unturned in her resolve to take Fidelity to the top. Already, she is religiously following her seven-point agenda which include among other things, brand building and architecture, talent development and transformation, product and service delivery, agility and performance discipline, digital transformation and regulatory compliance.

Fidelity Bank, an emerging banking superpower and a financial powerhouse is ready to take on the world. They are also prepared to make another record and even create upset in the banking world. With over 5.7 million customers who are serviced across its 250 business offices and other digital banking channels, it is now clear that even the sky will not be a limit for this bank of the moment.     

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