Thirteen banks listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange collectively spent N178bn as personnel expenses during the first quarter of 2020, representing a 9.5% increase when compared to N162.6bn which same banks spent in the same quarter of 2019.
A breakdown shows that Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) recorded the biggest personnel expenses in the period under review with N43.3bn spent on workers across African countries where it operates.
FBN Holdings Plc, which comprises First Bank of Nigeria and other subsidiaries such as FBNQuest and FBN Merchant Bank came second with a personnel budget of N23.9bn on employees’ salaries and other benefits.
Meanwhile, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc came in third. The tier-1 bank spent about N21.9 billion for its staff’s remuneration during the first three months of the year. UBA had about 13,237 employees, according to information gleaned from its full-year 2019 financial statement.
Access Bank Plc witnessed a significant increase in its personnel expenses from N12.8 billion in Q1 2019 to N19.6 billion in Q1 2020. This is partly due to the fact that its total number of employees jumped from 4,273 in FY 2018 to 6,898 as of December 2019. As you may well know, this increase followed the merger/acquisition of Diamond Bank which became effective in early 2019.
Also, Nigeria’s most profitable bank (Zenith Bank Plc) spent about N18.1 billion as personnel expenses in Q1 2020. Interestingly, this is slightly less than how much (N18.2 billion) the bank spent for the same purpose in Q1 2019. Note that the reduction is most likely due to the fact that the bank’s staff strength reduced from 6,253 as of December 2018 to 5,982 as of December 2019.
It is important to mention that Guaranty Trust Bank, which is Nigeria’s second most profitable bank, spent N9.2 billion for personnel remuneration in Q1 2020. The tier-1 bank is known for its very minimal operating cost approach. This probably explains why its staff strength as of December 2019 stood at 3,509.
Fidelity Bank expended N6.398bn as against the N5.347bn spent in the first quarter of 2019, while FCMB spent N7, 263bn on personnel in the first quarter of 2020. Stanbic IBTC Holdings expended N9.240bn as against the N9, 135bn spent in the first quarter of 2019.
Sterling Bank, Union Bank, Unity Bank and WEMA Bank spent N3.712bn, N8.134bn, N2.650bn and N3.674bn respectively.
It is uncertain, at this point, whether the COVID-19 pandemic would have any impact on how much bank workers would earn for the rest of the year.
Recall that after the pandemic hit, Access Bank Plc was among the first to consider salary cuts and layoffs as a cost-cutting approach to cope with the negative effects of the pandemic. However, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had warned banks against laying off any staff.
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