- Access management says it is in a period of growth during which spending is inevitable
Ratang Icho-Molebatsi, Access Bank’s finance director, says in the next two years profitability will likely remain flat year-on-year owing to investments the group has embarked on.
Icho-Molebatsi was responding to a question from this publication through and Q and A session recently. The Business Weekly & Review sought to establish the trend of expenses going forward, given the bank’s expansion drive and what impact this is likely to have on expected profitability. “We are going through periods of growth as a business … and we are going to need to spend to expand,” she responded.
The bank revealed that it has invested P200 million in more ATMs, digital banking platforms, increased footprint as well as acquiring talent to complete its transformation as it aims to become the Number 1 bank in Botswana by 2027. Management said Access will deploy 55 ATMs in the next three months, 36 of which should be available for customer use by the end of April and the rest by the end of June.
Access aims to reach 100 ATMs within next 12 months and to open nine new service centres in new areas in Botswana to service customers within their geography. “For the next two years, we are going to be almost flat year-on-year and then we will start seeing some of our investments starting to come into real revenue,” Icho-Molebatsi said.
Before making that growth, she said, Access needed to put money into the business. “The good thing about the current majority shareholder is the commitment towards ensuring we have that,” she noted. According to Access Bank Botswana, the first half of 2022 will be dominated by ensuring technology integration to its platforms, including core banking and cards platform upgrades and migration, as well as deployment of Access Bank digital channels.
Integration costs are expected to continue into the financial performance of the bank in 2022. In addition, the Board approved a refreshed five-year strategy whose execution has already begun immediately. The strategy aims to enhance the bank’s distribution footprint, to leverage Group digital assets to move beyond a lending-dominated book into a full-service digital banking ecosystem with diversified revenue lines.
During the past year, performance was impacted by certain non-recurring write-offs and integration costs consistent with transitions of this nature. Thus, total expenses increased by 18 percent to P497.8 million. Bottom line was therefore reduced significantly by these transitional factors. Profit after tax reduced from P88.3 million to P16.7 million.