By Ngozi Onyeakusi — Sustained double-digit growth of top and bottom-line posted full year 2017 and in its 2018 earnings results released Friday to the Nigerian Stock Exchange has affirmed the potency of Sterling Bank’s medium to long-term strategy.

The lender, recently named the most Innovative Bank of the Year by the Central Bank (CBN) and Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), has reported a profit after tax of N9.2 billion on gross earnings of N152.2 billion for the financial year ended December 31, 2018 compared with a net profit of N8 billion on gross earnings of N133.4 billion in the corresponding period of 2017.

This represents an increase of 14.9 percent in net profit and 14 percent in gross earnings.

Commenting on the financial performance, Abubakar Suleiman, Chief Executive Officer of the bank said, “Our 2018 performance demonstrated our commitment to the race we set out on at the beginning of the year. We continued to identify more with our strategic pillars – agility, digitisation and specialisation – enabling us to set the stage for positive and sustainable growth across the business. Our investments in people and technology platforms drove significant traction in the retail and consumer segment, in line with our medium to long term goals. Overall, the Bank delivered a 14.9 percent growth in profit after tax to N9.2 billion.”

Reflecting on key performance drivers during the financial year, Abubakar disclosed that consumer loans were up 108.3 percent driven by SPECTA – Nigeria’s leading lending digital platform. He added that mobile channel usage grew over 80 percent following the launch of Sterling OnePay, an omni-channel mobile banking platform as transaction volumes doubled on the instant payment platform.

In line with the bank’s commitment to sectors that will create jobs, improve living standards and bring about economic growth for the country, Sterling increased its financing efforts in the agriculture sector which accounted for about 10 percent of its loan book. The bank maintained a healthy capital and liquidity position at 13.3% and 42.2% respectively on account of additional tier 2 capital injection.

On future prospects, Abubakar said, “We would maintain a more customer-centric approach to achieving growth and strive to scale our digital products. Specifically, we will further diversify our loan book by targeting 20 percent share to Health, Education, Agriculture, Renewable Energy and Transportation – our HEART sectors.”

According to him, Sterling Bank would increase access to loans for a wider customer base through other exciting variants of SPECTA and further decentralise the investment market through digital platforms, refocus its corporate and investment banking segment with emphasis on providing innovative solutions to key corporates and banking the value chain.