The ARB Apex Bank, has applauded the good standing of the Avenor Rural Bank at Akatsi, describing its 2018 performance and prospects as 'resilient and excellent'.
Kojo Mattah, Managing Director, ARB Apex Bank, made the commendation in a message read on his behalf by Mark Odoi Adjei, Manager, Accra Branch, Apex Bank, at the Avenor Bank's 36th Annual General Meeting (AGM) at Akatsi.
"I laud the high resilience and the excellent performance of the Avenor Rural Bank, doing creditably well in the face of the ground-breaking changes going on at the general banking sector", he said.
Mr. Mattah, urged Shareholders, Directors and Management of the bank to work harder, advising that the bank concentrated its efforts on the medium and small business segments.
"I urge the Avenor Rural Bank and all other Rural and Community Banks – (RCBs), to perfect the small business financing as it holds a huge potential for them, but to avoid those 'too good to be true' high risk instruments because of the high potential of locking up their assets in non-recoverable investment portfolios", he stated.
Mr Mattah observed that the rural bank concept had come to stay as a strategic support for the forgotten middle to downstream business sector.
He stressed that the rural banks must continue to improve its systems for efficient business delivery to keep afloat, bringing tangible dividends to shareholders and communities.
He said as the Apex Bank's survival was inseparably linked to the RCBs' success, the Apex bank had kept introducing varied and improved business processes to help diversify the income streams of the RCBs, one of such, the much awaited Apex Bank's Agency Banking.
Mr Mattah said an eight million US Dollar World Bank loan had since been secured and a consultant engaged for the Agency project, aimed at positioning the rural banks to grab a good stake in the country's electronic cash and cash-lite society evolution,
He lamented the cyber fraud challenge to the financial services sector, hinting that a strategically interconnected Security Incident and Events Management System (SIEM) was being deployed to meet that challenge.
Mr. Mattah said the Apex Bank had so far deployed 70 automated teller machines (ATMs) at RCBs, urging those not yet with ATMs to still go ahead to apply to issue ATM cards, which holders could use also at the over 12 universal banks and Savings and Loans Companies.
"I state that the RBCs are financially strong, most of them doing well and the Apex Bank will continue to partner Bank of Ghana (BoG) to remove bottlenecks for the protection of depositors' and share funds", he said.
Mr. Simon Nerro Kodjo Davor, Board Chairman, Akatsi Rural Bank in his report said the Bank had implemented the new BoG GH¢1 million RCBs minimum capital requirement ahead of the effective date in 2018, the meeting also all other prudential requirements including the Reserve Requirements and Capital Adequacy Ratio.
He said the bank's Investment to Deposit ratio of 65 percent as at December 2018 overshot BoG's prudential requirement of 30 percent and stressed that the bank had no liquidity challenge.
Mr Davor said a 36.64 percent growth was made in Profit before Tax, from GH¢ 317, 029.00 in 2017 to GH¢433,185.00 in 2018.
Total Investments also increased from GH¢6,583,449.00 in 2017 to GH¢7,704,893.00 in 2018, that is 17.03 percent, while Total Deposits was up from GH¢10,734,516.00 in 2017 to GH¢11,790,930.00, 9.84 percent rise.
Total Assets Base appreciated 11.19 percent from GH¢13,803,064.00 to GH¢15,347,890.00 in 2018, while Share Liquidity rose 17.65 percent, representing GH¢1,836,053.00 in 2017 to GH¢2,160,194.00 last year.
Gross Advances, however, declined 5.62 percent from GH¢5,877,929.00 in the year before to GH¢5,547,526.00 in 2019.
Total Income grew 9.71 percent from GH¢2,665,298.00 to GH¢2,924,203.00 in 2018, while Operating Expenses saw a marginal 6.41 percent rise, representing GH¢2,228,269.00 in 2017 to GH¢2,371,017.00 in 2018.
He said the Bank’s five-year development plan had a slant to personal and salary loans, so as to reduce the non-performing loans portfolio and bad debts, resulting from commercial and project loans.
He said the Bank last year invested in computer and IT equipment, had discussions with the Apex Bank for ATM installation and was also seeking clearance from BoG to start work on the permanent Akatsi head office block, having satisfied the minimum capital requirements, capital adequacy ratio and reserve requirement.
Mr. Davor said the bank was working to improve efficiency to enhance shareholder value, customer service, staff development, risk management and cost control, adding, "with improvement in profit and enhancement of our solvency and liquidity, the future of our bank looks bright".
The meeting approved stay of share dividend payment till next year to strengthen the bank against unpredictable shockwaves currently hitting the financial services sector.