Commercial banks’ operating expenses jumps to N874bn over high Inflation, regulatory costs


Nine commercial banks in Nigeria recorded an aggregate operating expense of N874.8bn in the first half of the year.

This figure indicates an increase of N51.9bn from the total OPEX of N822.9bn recorded in the corresponding period of 2020.

The banks are United Bank for Africa, Access Bank, First Bank Holdings, GTBank, Zenith Bank, Fidelity Bank, Sterling Bank, Union Bank and First City Monument Bank.

The banks, in their audited financial results for H1, identified double-digit inflation rate, regulatory costs such as the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria charge of 0.5 per cent on total assets and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, fall in domestic currency, among others as factors that contributed to the rise in OPEX within the review period.

During the period under review, headline inflation hovered between 16 per cent and 18 per cent, data obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.

A monthly breakdown of inflation rate within the stated period shows that in January, inflation stood at 16.47 per cent but increased to 17.33 per cent in February. In March, inflation hit a record high of 18.17 per cent.

However, in April, inflation rate fell to 18.12 per cent; it fell further to 17.93 per cent and 17.75 per cent, in May and June respectively.

Further analysis of the reports shows that in H1 2019, the operational cost of the nine banks stood at, indicating an increase of N147.2bn, while in H1 2018 the banks recorded OPEX of N657.8bn.

Access Bank recorded a steady rise in operation cost from H1 2018 to H1 2021. It reported about 26 per cent increase in operating expenses from N98.3bn in H1 2018 to N123.3bn in H1 2019 and a nine per cent rise from N174.3bn in H1 2020 to N189.8bn in H1 2021.

The bank explained that the nine per cent increase recorded in H1 2021 was driven by the enlarged franchise following acquisitions in Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia.

“OPEX at bank level was flat despite the increase in regulatory costs (17 per cent), depreciation and amortization (16 per cent). We continue to optimise our costs despite the inflationary environment,” the bank said.

In H1 2018, Zenith Bank’s operating expenses stood at N126.5bn, but rose to N126.8bn in H1 2019; it grew further in H12020 to N135.8bn and N149.8bn in H1 2021.

UBA recorded operating cost of N103.7bn in H1 2018; N109.6bn in H1 2019; N132.1bn in H1 2020 and N132.8bn in H1 2021.

First bank recorded an operating cost of N119.3bn in H1 2018 and N148.3bn in H1 2019. The bank reported that its OPEX fell to N139.2bn in 2020 but rose by 9.6 per cent to N152.6bn in H1 2021.

In H1 2018, FCMB operating expenses was N37.4bn. By H1 2019, the bank’s OPEX increased to N39.7bn and N44bn in H1 2020. Its latest financial report showed that in H1 2021, FCMB’s operating cost rose nine per cent to N48bn.

GTBank recorded a consistent increase in operation cost from H1 2018 to H1 2021. It reported about N3m increase in operating expenses from N69.6bn in H1 2018 to N69.9bn in H1 2019 and a N6bn rise from N83.3bn in H1 2020 to N89.3bn in H1 2021.

The operating costs of Fidelity Bank during the review period are N32.3bn in H1 2018; N34.3bn in H1 2019; N46.8bn in H1 2020 and N42.2bn in H1 2021.

Sterling Bank reported N32.3bn opex in H1 2018, N34.3bn in H1 2019; N32.1bn in H1 2020 and N35.5bn in H1 2021.

A cursory look at the performance of Union Bank showed that the bank continued to witness a reduction in operational expenses until H1 2021 when its OPEX rose to N36.8bn from N35.4bn in H1 2020. In H1 2018, the bank’s OPEX was N39.2bn. It fell to N37.26bn in H1 2019.