Fidelity Bank held its virtual annual general meeting (AGM) on Friday, May 31, 2024, showcasing a year of remarkable recovery and record profits.

The meeting streamed live from the Bank's Head Office, provided Shareholders with an opportunity to review the Bank's performance for the year ended December 31, 2023, and receive updates on strategic initiatives.

Strong Financial Performance

James Reynolds Baiden, Board Chairman of Fidelity Bank, addressed Shareholders, highlighting the Bank's resilience in a challenging economic climate.

"Notwithstanding the macro-economic challenges, 2023 was a year of strong performance and significant recovery for Fidelity Bank, evident in our record revenues and profits," Mr. Baiden stated.

He announced a significant turnaround, with operating income rising 40% year-on-year, from GHS1.43 billion in 2022 to GH¢2.03 billion in 2023.

Profitability also saw a dramatic shift, reversing a recorded loss of GH¢518 million in 2022 to a profit of GH¢1.17 billion in 2023.

Mr. Baiden attributed this growth to the Bank's strong performance across all business segments including Retail Banking, Corporate and Institutional Banking, and Financial and Capital Markets.

Balance Sheet Expansion and Growth

Mr Baiden reported that the Bank's Total Assets grew by 25% to reach GH¢17.22 billion at the end of 2023, driven by a 28% increase in Customer Deposits, which closed the year at GH¢12.65 billion.

The incremental funding enabled the Bank to grow its Loans and Advances Portfolio by 17% to GHS 3.21 billion, and its Investment Securities book by 28% to GHS 7.70 billion in 2023.

The Bank witnessed a notable 119% increase in Shareholder Funds, reaching GH¢1.44 billion at the end of the year.

This growth followed a sharp decline to GH¢0.66 billion in 2022, attributable to the Bank's provisioning for expected credit losses occasioned by the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP).

The strong financial performance of the Bank improved its year-end Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR), with regulatory reliefs, from 16.8% in 2022 to 20.9% in 2023, indicating that the Bank remains adequately capitalized.

The Bank’s Balance Sheet performance places it as the 5th largest bank in Ghana by Total Assets.

Commitment to Innovation and Sustainability

Mr. Baiden emphasized Fidelity Bank's focus on innovation.

"We continue to invest in technology-driven solutions to improve efficiency and customer satisfaction in this digital era," he said.

"The Bank is also forging partnerships with FinTech (financial technology) firms and sustainable development organisations to align our strategies with emerging growth areas in financial services and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) propositions for greater value creation," Mr Baiden added.

Supporting Local Businesses and Agriculture

The AGM also highlighted Fidelity Bank's commitment to supporting the Ghanaian economy. Julian Opuni, Managing Director, stated, "Fidelity Bank is committed to empowering local businesses and fostering economic growth.

"In 2023, we provided over GH¢2 billion in credit to businesses across key sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, services, and commerce."

Recognizing the importance of agriculture, Mr Opuni further stated, "Over 10% of our loan portfolio is dedicated to supporting agricultural businesses, from established enterprises to small-scale entrepreneurs.

"Leveraging partnerships with the major like-minded players in the agribusiness space such as Development Bank, Ghana and the Ghana Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (GIRSAL), we extended credit combined with capacity-building services to agricultural entrepreneurs."

Looking ahead, Mr. Opuni announced plans to expand support for early-stage agribusinesses, particularly those led by female entrepreneurs.

He highlighted the Mastercard BRIDGE-in Agriculture program, which aims to support 200,100 smallholder farmers, impacting over 280,000 women and youth, and creating over 20,000 new jobs in the next five years.

AGM Outcomes and Recognition

At the AGM, Shareholders of the Bank adopted the reports of the Directors, Auditors, and the Financial Statements for the year ended December 31, 2023.

The Shareholders also passed a resolution to declare a final dividend per share of GH¢3.41 for the same period; ratified the appointment of a Non-Executive Director; re-elected three Directors retiring by rotation; and authorized the Directors to fix the remuneration of the Auditors.

Additionally, the AGM showcased Fidelity Bank's achievements and numerous awards received throughout the year, including Best Bank for Financial Inclusion Ghana 2023, CSR Bank of the Year, Best Commercial Lending Firm Ghana 2023, and Best Bank for Digital Solutions in Ghana.

Fidelity Bank's strong 2023 performance positions the bank for continued growth and leadership in the Ghanaian financial sector.

The bank's commitment to innovation, customer service, and supporting local businesses highlights its distinctive role as a key player in driving Ghana's economic development.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.