PARAMOUNT BANK: WE’VE TAKEN UP GREEN FINANCING

The concept of responsible banking is gaining credence globally. Describe how your bank is engaged in responsible banking.

 


Responsible banking has always been an important aspect of the bank’s culture and is not new. However, as the rest of the world becomes more aware and sensitive to the principle of sustainable finance, it is important to note that the bank is taking up green finance to ensure environmental preservation is fulfilled. The bank has partnered with a solar power energy company that will soon be feeding to the main grid.

 


Are you currently using the ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) factors to measure your sustainability and the social impact of your business?

 

Yes. The bank is a responsible and ethical entity that shares in the values enshrined in the Constitution of Kenya and expectations of the citizens through its ESMS policy. To promote a culture of good governance the bank has in place a comprehensive code of conduct which all members of staff are expected to read, sign off and follow every year.

 

How far are you from fully implementing the Banking Sector Charter?

We have implemented the Banking Sector Charter as required and guided by the regulator. The documents providing information as required by the Charter are all available on our website for our clients and members of the public to access.

How have you responded to your customers banking needs in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic?

The bank has maintained platforms both internet and mobile banking during the period of lockdown to ensure that clients have access to their accounts and banking services. The bank has also reduced the handling of cash and advised clients to utilize our mobile and internet banking platforms. The bank has also adhered to the COVID-19 Ministry of Health guidelines by ensuring that sanitizer dispensers are available in all areas accessed by clients, social distancing is observed, provided all staff with masks and provision of temperature guns to the security personnel manning the building entrances. Aside from this, the bank has accommodated borrowing clients by giving moratoriums on either interest payment or principal repayment or both where it is required. The bank will continue supporting clients as is necessary as these are challenging times.

How would you describe your performance in 2019? (one word).

Stable

 


Where did growth come from if any?

Increase lending activities following slight improvement in economic activity in the year 2019.

 


Overall, how do you rate the quality of your loan portfolio?

Good but expecting a decline in quality following the effects of the Pandemic

What is your average loan size and average loan repayment period?

Average Loan size of 10 million and average loan repayment period of about four years

 


What is the distribution of your credit portfolio by sector, i.e. agriculture, manufacturing, construction, housing, trade and commerce etc.?

 

How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted your performance so far and going forward?

So far there has been a limited impact on the financial performance. We however expect to feel the impact of declining economic activity from the 3rd and 4th quarter of the year. We are aware of many of our clients struggling to meet their obligation to us and we have been actively trying to assist them by restructuring or rescheduling their obligation to us. We have already undertaken a comprehensive business impact analysis and are well placed to whether any unexpected economic shocks as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic.

 

How would you describe the performance of your bank over the last 10 year?

Over the last 10 years our balance sheet has grown by over 3.5 times in size. A compounded annual growth rate of about 15%.

 

What does the year 2020 and the next 10 years portend for your bank?

We expect the year 2020 and perhaps also the year 2021 to be challenging largely due to the Covid 19 Pandemic. The year 2022 is an election year in the country so there is likely to be subdued economic activity. We will concentrate on our bank’s stability and consolidation for these three years. Thereafter we expect the bank to return to historical and natural growth trajectory.

The interest rate capping that has had a major impact on the banking sector has finally been scrapped. What does that mean for your bank and the industry?

 

Scrapping of the interest rate capping law was a positive outcome for the bank and industry. It means that the bank can now consider taking on more risk that is commensurate with the return. However, it is going to take some time to fully operationalize in order to work well for both lenders and borrowers.

How has the removal of the law affected your financial performance so far?

 

Not significantly as the deposit rates have remained high whilst we have not increased lending rates due to prevailing economic situation for most borrowers. Without a change in the margins, profitability remains at the same level.

Any new investments or advancements in ICT at the bank?

Technology is at the heart of our business and we continue to invest in our infrastructure to ensure that we continue operating safe and secure platforms. We are in discussions with a potential technology partner in order to improve our product offerings to clients. To this end we have:

  • Upgraded our mobile banking product to add functionalities and improve user experience.
  • Fully connected to Pesalink and I-tax platforms
  • Partnering with Little Cabs to support them launch digital wallets.

Does your bank have a mobile money lending platform?

Not yet.

What is the loan uptake from the platform and the overall quality of the loans taken?

Not applicable.

How is Pesalink’s usage as compared to EFT, RTGS and other funds transfer methods?

Uptake of Pesalink was initially slow due to competition from more mature methods of funds transfer which clients were already familiar. However, in the past year we have seen volumes tick up on Pesalink as the platform gains acceptance by clients. In the end, Pesalink’s volumes will grow depending on the value proposition it delivers to clients.

 

What is the growth trend in the adoption of online and mobile technology in your bank?

It is a good thing that we have invested in both online and mobile technology as clients demand and the competitive environment dictates. Uptake of these is very high among our clients due to the convenience they offer at reasonable cost. Our mobile banking platform is very popular and has been particularly useful during this period of COVID-19.

Any changes on your business model?

No. We have not changed our business model as stipulated in our current 5year Strategic plan which is coming up for review this year. The Board and Management will decide on the new strategic direction to be taken during the review.

 


How is the scrapping of interest rate cap going to affect your strategy?

The bank does not intend to engage in unsecured lending as competence is in other market segments. Where the bank engages with riskier borrowers, it will be on the basis of risk sharing so that capital exposure is minimized. And such products will be targeting SMEs that are critical for job creation and economic growth.

What is your growth plan, where do you see yourselves in 5 years?

My vision for the next 5 years is to see the bank continue growing with the existing clients, ensuring that the bank remains on a sustainable balance sheet and profitability path as well as safeguarding the interests of its clients and all other stakeholders. Partnerships and collaborations will be critical in our next 5 years growth plans. This will enable the bank to leverage on more resources financially and enhance capacity in areas that it currently has shortcomings in. The bank has been built on a foundation of gradual solid growth yielding a robust and resilient institution able to withstand the shocks of a dynamic operating environment. 

How would you describe our macroeconomic environment currently (globally and locally)?

The current macroeconomic environment both locally and globally are more challenging than we have witnessed before. Economic growth has slowed down considerably impacting both households and businesses. The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has made a bad situation even worse. The level of uncertainty is like that never experienced in the lifetimes of most people globally.

What do you see as the biggest threats to Kenya’s banking sector?

The banking sector in Kenya is exposed to both local and international threats. Locally, the operating environment is very unpredictable due to ever changing laws and regulations, a slow judicial process, inefficiencies at the land registry, losses due to fraud and other malpractices. Externally, trade wars among the big economies expose the sector to political risks as the banking sector could be a victim of unfavorable trading sanctions depending on the leaning of our government.

What are the next growth drivers in Kenya’s banking sector and why do you think so?

The SMEs and the youth will be the main drivers of growth in Kenya’s banking both as new clients or as existing clients scaling up to take advantage of a favorable economic climate. The government’s Big 4 agenda if implemented properly and devolution will act as catalysts for this potential growth. This is because of the importance of both county and national governments in stimulating growth that benefits the youth and SMEs. It is purely a game of numbers.

 

 


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Bank Profile

  1.  Recent developments within the last one year
  • ISO 9001 Certified.
  • Partnered with Africa Guarantee Fund for SMEs.
  • Added Crown Agent Bank UK to our list of corresponding banks
  • Formed a Bank Subsidiary PB Capital Ltd to drive alternative investments especially in the ICT and Energy Sectors.

 List of Current Directors (Attached)

Auditors (As at 31st Dec 2019) Deloitte & Touche

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