NCB embraces digital strategy during COVID-19

NCB embraces digital strategy during COVID-19

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

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Amid the continued negative impact on businesses as a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak, NCB Financial Group (NCBFG) said that its early adoption of a digital strategy assisted the financial institution to pivot in the wake of the pandemic.

Speaking at an investor's briefing held last Friday, November 13, Patrick Hylton, president and group chief executive officer (CEO) said that the company in its response to the pandemic quickly moved to accelerate its digital strategy, which led to the migration of certain transactions to digital channels.

“The physical distancing requirements required us to accelerate our plans to migrate services to digital channels in order to safely facilitate our customer's financial needs. These objectives were required earlier than anticipated and were met earlier than anticipated,” he said, noting that the digital push has also helped several of its business customers to launch e-commerce platforms and online payment options.

The engagement of these strategies, the company said, also help to secure growth in operating profits which totalled $27.3 billion, increasing by three per cent to $817 million over the prior year.

In its fourth quarter ended September 30, the country's largest financial institution and its subsidiaries recorded a net profit of $26.9 billion, though some 14 per cent less when compared to last year's out-turn and $19.1 billion of the amount was attributable to shareholders— reflecting a 36 per cent or $10.8-billion decrease.

In its segment performance, the bank's earnings, which was continuously impacted by the pandemic in the quarter, also saw a reduction in profits of $3.3 billion to total $6.6 billion. Other results such as its insurance activities also recorded an increase, when compared to the five months in the prior period, of $18 billion due to the consolidation of a full year of Guardian Holdings Limited's (GHL) results, in which it now holds a 62 per cent stake. Due to strong underwriting performance in Guardian's health, life and pension businesses, the entity was able to record a strong performance despite the challenges resulting from the pandemic.

Hylton, however, said that despite the fall in profits, the group remained on track to meet its 2024 targets and aspirations as set out previously, among which was an objective for the bank to fast-track its agenda in becoming digital to the core.

“Whenever we return to normal, it will be a different normal, and while we cannot control what happens to us, we certainly can control how we respond and we have acknowledged that sitting around and waiting without acting provides the clearest path to disruption,” he said, adding that the pandemic provides the opportunity to do what one thought could not be done before.

In its quarterly report to shareholders, NCBFG said that this also aligned with its commitment to relentlessly pursue aspirations of becoming the region's leading financial ecosystem. During the period the company's asset base grew 11 per cent stronger to $1.8 trillion with $156 billion in equity, a 1.6 per cent return on assets, 12.6 per cent return on equity and earnings per share of $8.01.

“We continue to focus on enhancing customer experience, improving operational efficiency and developing our digital capabilities, while safeguarding the health, well-being and economic interests of our stakeholders,” Hylton said.

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