Bank of Maldives (BML), on Thursday, revealed that its best financial performance was recorded in 2018 resulting from solid business growth across most core business sectors and prudent loan book management.
As per the 2018 annual report, profit before tax (PBT) was MVR 1.6 billion, representing a 13 percent increase compared to 2017 which is a particular achievement considering higher funding costs than the previous year. PBT has consistently surpassed the MVR 1 billion threshold for the last three years.
Additionally, the ratio of non-performing to the total number of loans decreased from 4.1 percent to 3.5 percent with a provision cover of 100 percent. Capital and liquidity ratios also remain above regulatory requirements. Underlying profit has increased to 30 percent on a like-for-like basis
BML's robust financial position prompted the board of directors to propose a record dividend of MVR 129 million for 2018. This amounts to MVR 24 per share.
In 2018, the Bank continued the 'Aharenge Bank’ initiative, an investment programme which supports individuals, businesses and communities across Maldives. BML spent a total of MVR 300 million on more than 110 projects supporting charitable, educational, sports and environmental causes.
BML also opened four new branches, five Self Service Banking Centres in the atolls as well as launched a cash deposit and loan repayment service to be conducted through its agents, the number of which was increased from 230 to 277.
Aishath Noordeen, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BML, stated that the increasing financial strength facilitated significant community investment and will enable the programme's continuation
"The Bank has reached a standard of performance that we are determined to sustain and build upon", stated Noordeen.
The Deputy CEO went on to express gratitude to BML's staff for their diligent work and customers for their confidence.
"We will continue to work tirelessly to meet your expectations in terms of service standards, product offerings and indeed everything we do", stated Noorden, speaking to BML's customer base on behalf of the bank.
Furthermore, the Deputy CEO revealed that 2014's ambitious 5-year plan, which entailed significant changes to the Bank’s structure, business lines, technology and community investment, was fully delivered in 2018.
"...today, the bank benchmarks powerfully against its peers in the region, adhering to the highest international standards.”
In terms of financial highlights, Aishath attributed 2018's performance to solid growth across most core business sectors and income sources rather than one-off gains as was the case in 2017.
Deputy CEO Aishath also noted further improvements in loan book quality which decreased the ratio of nonperforming to total loans to 3.5 percent. The Bank also adopted the new Accounting Standard IFRS 9 Financial Instruments during the year.
Regarding customer service, Aishath highlighted BML's greater use of digital channels and continued investment in technology and innovations which increased customer convenience and efficiency. In 2018, online applications for services such as account opening, loans or cards were introduced along with the technologically advanced international money transfer platform.
"We are committed to continuing to innovate and invest in further technology enhancements for the benefit of both personal and business customers".
Deputy CEO Aishath also mentioned that BML Islamic, the bank's Islamic outlet, continued on its positive growth path. "Our deposit base and lending portfolio increased significantly and several new products were introduced during the year as we continue to offer Shari’ah compliant alternatives to all of our conventional products.”