Board Chairman of GCB Bank, Jude Kofi Arthur, has said publicly listed companies that have large shareholder numbers, should make virtual features a regular aspect of annual general meetings even after normalcy returns in a post COVID-19 world.
“It is something that large companies should use. Outside Ghana, some of these major investment funds with shareholders across the world, these shareholders get emails and passwords to access the meetings. This is a novelty here and we must look at to see how it can be used even in normal times,” he said in an interview with the B&FT at the bank’s virtual AGM in Accra.
“For GCB Bank with about 80,000 shareholders spread all over the country, this kind of technology would help because you cannot congregate everyone. I would not say it should replace normal AGMs but it should be a permanent addition. Because even in normal times, there are many people who can’t attend AGMs,” he said.
He told shareholders that the bank’s strategic pursuit of transformation, underpinned by digitalization has yielded a record in the banking industry with GCB Bank investing in a cutting edge mobile wallet technology which resulted in the launch of an industry-first product called G-Money: a mobile money wallet backed by equivalent cash which works across all networks.
“We are very optimistic this will enable us access market space which hitherto was not available to us and increase our market share of deposits. The game changer in this product is its capacity to enable us provide a platform for cash collection and movement of funds for customers in both the private and public sectors.
We invested in an Interactive Teller Platform to automate the front office for improved and secured services and completed the centralization of our back office processes. These projects will no doubt enhance operational efficiency and provide better service to customers. Your Bank also launched a new internet banking portal with enhanced business solutions. In all these initiatives, we worked closely with our digital advisors and we will pursue the objectives we have set for ourselves,” he said.
Expanding on the bank’s performance for 2019, Mr. Arthur, an experienced banker, said the focus has been on growing the balance sheet and diversifying its income base and the strategy was backed by a robust Risk Management framework and a solid agenda for resourcing its Internal Audit and strengthening the Combined Assurance functions.
This led to yet another significant growth in Profit before Tax of GH¢573.67 million from GH¢450.17 million in 2018, up by 27.4% in 2019. The impressive financial performance was driven by solid revenue growth.
The bank’s Net interest income was up by 20.8%, from GH¢967.10 million to GH¢1,168.45 million. Net trading income went up by 57.3% to GH¢141.75 million from GH¢90.14 million whilst net fees and commission income also increased by 22.2% to GH¢241.51 million from GH¢197.60 million year-on-year.
“Our performance notwithstanding, we still have huge challenges in the management of our operational costs,” he said, adding that the bank’s Cost-to-Income Ratio only decreased marginally to 59.1% from 60.5% in 2018 and it is still above the industry average of 50.1%.
The board, he said, has stepped up interventions to control cost with a project to evaluate the cost benefit of assets in real estate and its impact on profitability, and a review of the procurement framework to focus on value for money.
Outgoing MD’s views
Managing Director, Anselm Ransford Adzete Sowah, who is leaving the bank after serving notice to the board to not renew his contract, noted that despite the digital drive, a new branch was opened at Dzorwulu, a suburb of Accra and contiguous to the Airport Residential Area.
“The purpose is to mobilize deposits in the Airport Residential Area, Dzorwulu, the GIMPA Stretch and their environs. During the year, the Spintex Branch was relocated to more spacious and bigger premise. It was done to provide customers with the greatest level of satisfaction and convenience.”
Strategic focus for the Year 2020
The bank, he said, seeks to consolidate its efforts to ensure that ‘G-Money’ is well implemented. “Your management seeks to garner additional customer deposits that will help the bank leverage its activities and on-board some potential big ticket assets,” he said.
He added that the bank also seeks to make additional investments aimed at securing the its system against cyber fraud, deepen its participation in the non-funded income business, introduce mortgage financing as a new product, as interest rates trend downwards, upgrade the GCB Learning Center for running internal and external programmes.
Jude Kofi Arthur, Board Chairman of GCB Bank