By G9ija

Sterling Bank Plc has reported a trading income of N7.1 billion for the third quarter (Q3) which ended Sept. 30, compared with N1.9 billion achieved in the corresponding period in 2019.

This was achieved despite the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and recent fiscal reforms by the government

Mr. Abubakar Suleiman, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the bank, said in a statement, made available to newsmen on Thursday in Lagos.

He said the profit recorded represented a 264.7 percent increase.

Suleiman said that the bank achieved the remarkable performance in spite of the prevailing uncertainties that characterized the macro-economic environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the attendant fiscal reforms by the Federal Government.

The bank’s profit after tax dropped to N7.36 billion during the period under review as against N7.57 billion recorded in the corresponding period in 2019, just as gross earnings also fell to N106.07 billion during the period under review, against N109.7 billion achieved last year.
According to him, with economic activity picking up in the third quarter, following the gradual ease in the nationwide lockdown, the bank would continue to leverage on existing remote work policy to enhance workforce productivity and ensure uninterrupted service delivery to both new and existing customers.

“Our performance continues to reflect positive results of strategic decisions and investments in our focal areas as we continue to record significant improvement in both funding and operational costs.

“Overall, we delivered a 7.2 percent increase in operating income and a profit after tax of N7.37 billion despite prevailing uncertainties around the COVID-19 pandemic and recent fiscal reforms.

The CEO said a 26.2 percent dip in fee income caused by the downward review of electronic banking fees coupled with slower loan origination, due to the protracted lockdown, was moderated by a 264.7 percent spike in trading income.

“Growth in the balance sheet was driven by a 26.5 percent growth in low-cost funds, which saw the bank’s CASA mix improve to 71 percent from 60 percent, delivering a 6.6 percent growth in customer deposits.

“Our cash and short-term balances increased in line with the higher regulatory reserves, while interest income also declined by 6.7 percent, which was offset by a 17.0 percent decline in interest expense. This delivered a 120-bps drop in the cost of funds and, consequently, a 100-bps increase in net interest margin,” he said.

In terms of asset quality, Suleiman noted: “We proactively increased our cost of risk by 100 bps to 1.9 percent, while recording a marginal increase in NPL ratio to 2.9per cent, well below our target of 5 percent.

He explained that the decline in OPEX was achieved by moderating administrative expenses despite growth in other operating expenses, including AMCON and insurance fees

The CEO said that the bank was also able to maintain a strong capital and liquidity position of 16.1 percent and 32.5 percent respectively, above the regulatory benchmark.