NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bank of The Bahamas (BOB) saw a $2.37 million profit for the first quarter ended September 30, 2020, rebounding from a prior loss of $7.3 million for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2020.
The BISX-listed lender’s net loss for the year ended June 30 stemmed from loan loss provisioning due to COVID-19-related impacts such as the downgrade of the country’s credit rating, a significant increase in the unemployment rate and reduction in forecasted GDP, the bank noted in a release on its website.
Reporting at the bank’s recent Annual General Meeting, CFO Jihanne Hosmillo-Williams said, however, that BOB is now back to net income of $2.37 million at the end of its first-quarter fiscal 2021, with capital and liquid asset ratios well above required levels.
“Total revenues for this period continue to be consistent with the prior year, although noted are some minimal decreases in fees and commission income, directly attributable to a certain level of decreased business volumes and transactions due to the current environment under COVID-19,” Hosmillo-Williams said.
She noted that the bank’s balance sheet also continues to be strong, with total assets increasing from $822 million as of June 30, 2020 to $874 million as of September 30, 2020.
“Loans and advances to customers, which account for more than 40 percent of our total assets, continued to increase, as well as our cash and cash equivalents,” Hosmillo-Williams said.
“Our total liabilities, primarily customer deposits, also showed a significant increase since June 30, 2020, so this continued to show a strong balance sheet position for the bank.”
With the continuing effects of the pandemic on the economy and uncertainty concerning the return to full recovery, BOB Chairman Wayne Aranha said it would be difficult to speak with any degree of confidence about the bank’s prospects for fiscal year 2021.
“Costs will have to be closely managed in an environment where top-line growth is limited,” Aranha said.
“We are undoubtedly operating in a more challenging environment, and this will require strong portfolio management and resourcefulness in developing new sources of income.”
Despite COVID-19’s impact on the Bahamian economy and the bank, BOB Managing Director Kenrick Brathwaite said he is encouraged by progress made to ensure the bank becomes the most efficient, customer-centric bank in The Bahamas.
While stating that the bank’s overall strategy has not changed, he noted that the pandemic has resulted in adjusted completion deadlines for some projects.
“Presently we are still in our initial phase of strengthening the foundation, which we expect will be completed by May 2021, allowing your bank to move to phase two of accelerated growth,” Brathwaite said.
“We will point out that phase one is an aggressive and ambitious plan to address upgrading our core banking system, restructuring of our corporate organization, updating of our policies and procedures, implementation of succession plans and automation of most of our procedures.
“Additionally, we expect to address our desire to enhance our online platform, improve our website and embark on a digital expansion to facilitate our ability to reach the persons on the Family Islands, especially those unbanked potential customers.”
As BOB moves into phase two of its strategic plan during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021, the bank expects to address its list of products, inclusive of debit cards and an enhanced Merchant Services Department.