From afar, the Nigerian banking industry seems very competitive, but when the financial statements of each bank are examined, double figures running into millions separate them.

In return for their heavy investments, banks and shareholders expect to make a profit. From the audited and reported financials, the profitability of Nigerian banks is not in doubt.

A major factor in banks’ performances was the Covid-19 pandemic, which impacted plans to roll out digital services earlier in the year. Nonetheless, the pandemic worked in their favour as Nigerians increasingly rely on mobile banking for transactions and avoid banking halls for fear of contracting Covid-19.

Methodology: The Gross Earning of a bank is an aggregation of all the income sources received by the bank without accounting for operating expenses, interest expense, or loan impairments. It determines how well a bank has performed in sweating its entire assets and resources available to make money. Important to note that the bank with the most gross earnings is not always the bank that is most profitable. Profitability is determined by how well the bank manages its operating costs, loan losses, and taxes.


Nigeria’s most valuable bank by market value and second most profitable bank last year reported a 7.65% decline in gross earnings.

  • As published in the company’s audited half-year report, its gross earnings for H1 2021 fell from N225.14 billion in the corresponding period of 2020 to N207.91 billion.
  • The reason for the decline was because net interest income fell by 16.11% from N127.62 billion in H1 2020 to N107.06 billion in H1 2021.
  • GTCO’s augmented the drop from receiving higher commissions and fees compared to the year before but it was not enough.  To make matters worse, its operating expenses also rose in the first half of the year affecting its profits. Thus, profit before tax fell by N166.58 million to N93.06 billion, and earnings per share dropped to N2.79 from N3.32.

GTCO has always been a consistent performer so we expect the bank to bounce back by year-end. It has also just adopted a HoldCo structure which will need time to start to reflect on all-round earning capacity.


According to reports from one of Nigeria’s oldest banks, gross earnings during the first half was N291.2 billion (-1.7% year over year). A 22% decline in Interest Income caused by a 56% drop in Investment Securities Income led to a slight earnings drop.

  • FBNH also earned significant revenue from commissions which rose from N46.7 billion to N57.3 billion helping it compensate for the lower-income earned from interest on loans.
  • FBNH also showed strong growth in net earnings from commission and fees going from N46.7 billion to N57.3 billion one of the highest in the sector (only just behind Access Bank).
  • Operating expenses surged up by 9.6% y/y, as all major contributory lines spiked – personnel expenses (+3.4% y/y to N51.24 billion), AMCON levy (+35.4% y/y to N30.68 billion), and NDIC premium (+9.4% y/y to N6.81 billion).
  • We did note a significant drop in First Bank’s Cost to Income ratio falling to 77% in the first half of the year one of the best it has had.
  • Managing Director of FBN Holding, U.K. Eke stated that owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and low interest rates, macroeconomic conditions remain challenging.

FBN Holdings is confident that it will continue to deliver innovative solutions that will enrich customer experiences as well as deepen financial inclusion, despite these negative factors negatively impacting overall revenue generation.


The gross earnings of Nigeria’s third most profitable bank rose from N300.6 billion to N316 billion, while assets rose from N7.7 trillion to N8.3 trillion.

  • This is one of the few banks that recorded higher gross earnings year on year.
  • UBA impressively recorded a much lower loan impairment going from N7.8 billion last year to N4.1 billion in the period under review.
  • Deposits by customers crossed the N6 trillion mark as well, growing by 7.4% to N6.1 trillion in the period under review, compared to N5.7 trillion as of December 2020.
  • UBA also recorded significant growth in its net commissions and fees income growing from N38.5 billion to N45.7 billion.

UBA Plc Board of Directors has declared an interim dividend of 20 kobo per share for every ordinary share of 50 kobo each that is held by shareholders as per its culture of paying interim and final cash dividends.

Zenith Bank

Its gross earnings for the half-year of 2021 decreased by 0.15% from N346.09 billion in 2020 to N345.6 billion.

  • Based on its audited interim report for the half-year ended June 2021, the bank’s Interest income declined from N216.9 billion in the first half of 2020 to N203.9 billion same period this year. Zenith also reported a significant increase in net commission and fees growing from N33.5 billion to N47.6 billion. This helped mitigate the drop in interest income.
  • Also important to note that Zenith also had a higher net interest income in the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2020.
  • Zenith Bank also grew its customer deposits to N5.7 trillion from N5.3 trillion at the end of 2020.

Michael Otu, the bank’s Company Secretary, said in a statement that shareholders whose names appear in the register of members on the 10th day of September 2021, will receive an interim dividend of 30 kobo for each share of N50k.

Access Bank

Nigeria’s largest bank by total assets and customer base reported a  13.6%, increase in gross earnings to N450.6 billion from N396.7 billion by far the best performing of all the banks under our review.

  • Access Bank appeared to have achieved this feat by aggressively increasing its loan book from N3.6 trillion to N3.9 trillion. However, the most significant impact on gross earnings was its earnings from commission and fees which rose to N58.7 billion from N40.5 billion.  Access Bank appears to be leveraging on its asset base to drive revenue growth.
  • But while Access Bank raked in billions in gross earnings its loan losses remained high at N28.6 billion in the first half of this year compared to N29.6 billion incurred last year. This has been a major strain on the bank’s profitability.
  • It’s important to note, however, that PricewaterhouseCoopers’ independent auditors noted increased provisioning by the bank for loans that could prove unsustainable in the future, as this trend may limit the bank’s upside.

A total of N10.7 billion has also been allocated by the Board of Directors of Access Bank Plc as dividends to shareholders for the period ended 30th of June, 2021.


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