NCBA Bank is a regional banking powerhouse that operates a network of more than 100 branches in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Ivory Coast. With over 60 million customers, NCBA Bank is the largest banking group in Africa by customer numbers, according to statements published by the lender in its 2021 Integrated Annual Report.
NCBA Bank as an entity is the result of one of the largest and most successful corporate mergers in Kenya’s banking industry. NCBA officially started operations in October 2019 following the merger of the NIC Group and Commercial Bank of Africa, two homegrown Kenyan banks with world-class customer service, strong and respected brands, and a combined 110 years of experience in the Kenyan and the larger East African banking sector.
Following the merger, NCBA Bank Kenya, the Group’s flagship bank, became the third largest bank in by assets. The bank’s audited 2021 financial statements indicate that its total assets hit Sh591.1 billion at the close of December 2021, a 12 per cent increase from Sh527.9 billion in 2020.
NCBA Bank is an interesting case study on successful corporate growth strategy. Its extensive scale, recent business reorganization, and full-scale rebrand to NCBA – the bank that wants to build a distinguished brand known for customer service – have not come at the expense of growth or innovation.
In the two years since the merger was completed, NCBA Bank has performed exceptionally well on key metrics such as financial performance, market leadership, brand equity, sustainability, and corporate citizenship.
NCBA Bank is in the best financial shape it has ever been. By the end of 2021, NCBA Bank had doubled its profits from the previous year. It raked in Ksh10.2 billion in profit after tax in 2021 compared with Ksh4.6 billion profit after tax in 2020. The bank has sustained this strong earnings momentum in 2022. For the first quarter ended March 31, it reported profit after tax of Ksh3.41 billion, a 20 percent jump compared to the Ksh2.84 billion posted in the first quarter of 2021.
NCBA Bank has also successfully maintained market leadership in asset finance, digital banking, and corporate banking. Statements published in NCBA Bank’s 2021 Integrated Annual Report show that the bank’s asset finance disbursements increased by 21 per cent to Ksh 19.7 billion during the year. This makes it number 1 among the top 7 asset finance banks and translates to a market share of 33 per cent.
NCBA continues to grow its market presence and leadership in digital banking. The bank’s earnings report for the first quarter of 2022 indicates digital loan disbursements increased significantly in the period to Ksh163.4 billion, a 26 per cent increase from Ksh129.9 billion in the first quarter of 2021. Together with Safaricom, NCBA operates the M-Shwari and Fuliza platforms, two of the largest and fastest growing digital lending products in Kenya.
Growth on the agenda
NCBA Bank is one of the few banks in the Kenyan market that is growing – rather than reducing – the number of branches in the country and region. This a clear indication that growth is still top on the agenda as far as NCBA Bank is concerned.
In 2021, NCBA Bank had the fastest growing branch network in Kenya. During the year, the bank opened 13 new branches across key strategic towns. This investment paid off as customer deposits grew 11 per cent during the year. Customer deposits came in at Ksh197 billion in 2019, Ksh214 billion in 2020 and Ksh237 billion in 2021. NCBA intends to continue scaling up its branch network in 2022 by opening 12 new branches in Kenya and an additional two new branches in Rwanda. NCBA’s cost to income ratio remained flat at 42.18 per cent in 2021, indicating that the bank has managed to remain efficient despite the huge investments in branches and growth.
NCBA Bank is growing aggressively while keeping an eye on staff performance, job satisfaction and its attractiveness as an employer of choice. The lender had more than 2300 employees in Kenya in 2021, with an employee retention rate of 90 per cent, its Annual Report notes. Impressively, the bank promoted 219 or close to 10 per cent of its staff last year, indicating that it is not only able to attract talent, but also develop it, a top consideration for professionals looking to grow their careers. It is no surprise that NCBA Bank is performing well against its 2020 -2025 strategy, whose key planks the bank’s Group Managing Director, John Gachora, outlined in the bank’s 2021 Integrated Report.
“In 2020, we developed a 5-year strategic plan that called for investments in initiatives that: Build a Distinguished Brand Known for Customer Experience, Scale Retail Banking, deepen our Market Leadership in Corporate Banking and Asset Finance, Enable Digital Transformation, and Develop a High-Performance Culture,” Mr. Gachora notes in his published remarks in the report.
The NCBA brand has continued to gain relevance and earn consideration among Kenyans. It ranked third among Tier 1 banks in the Kenya Bankers’ Association Customer Experience Award 2021 and improved its ‘Brand Power Score’ and ‘Net Promoter Score’ in 2021, according to a brand survey by Kantar.
Responsible corporate citizen
NCBA Bank is also keen on building its profile as a responsible corporate citizen. It has consistently invested in reforestation efforts, education, and charity drives. Under the environmental campaign dubbed #ChangeTheStory, NCBA has planted more than 46,000 trees around the country as part of reforestation efforts.
NCBA has also partnered with the Palmhouse Foundation, Edumed Trust, MPesa Foundation, Dr. Choksey Albinism Foundation and SOS Children’s Villages Kenya to deliver educational sponsorship programmes to deserving children. NCBA has also partnered with Junior Achievement Kenya, under its job shadow programme, to educate over 40 students and youth on entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy through experiential programs.
NCBA’s patronage of golf is also worth mentioning. In 2021, it launched the inaugural NCBA Golf Series, attracting over 3000 golfers to participate in tournaments across 16 golf clubs countrywide. In 2022, the Series expands across the Region with 18 tournaments in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.