According to the bank's audited financial results for the 2021 financial year presented to the Nigeria Exchange Group (NGX), the Group achieved year-on-year (YoY) growth in gross earnings of 10% from NGN696.5 billion reported in the previous year to N765.6billion. This was on the back of 23% YoY growth in non-interest income from N251.7billion to N309billion and a 2% YoY growth in interest income from N420.8billion to NGN427.6billion.
Profit before tax also grew by 10% from NGN255.9 billion to NGN280.4 billion in the current year. The increase was due to growth in the top-line and very strong management of the treasury portfolio that increased efficiency, resulting in a drop in interest expense by 12% from NGN121.1 billion in 2020 to NGN106.8 billion in the current year. This further led to a 7% increase in net interest income of NGN320.8 billion in 2021 from NGN299.7 billion in 2020.
Customer deposits increased by 21%, growing from NGN5.34 trillion in the previous year to NGN6.47 trillion in the current year. The growth in customer deposits came from both corporate and retail customers. Retail deposits grew by NGN146 billion from NGN1.72 trillion in 2020 to NGN1.87 trillion in 2021. The Group's continuous drive for retail deposits combined with the strategic rebalancing of its funding base helped to reduce the cost of funding from 2.1% to 1.5% in the current year. Although operating expenses grew by 13% YoY, growth remains below the inflation rate, and the Group improved its Earnings per Share (EPS) which grew by 6% from NGN7.34 to NGN7.78.
Total assets increased by 11%, growing from NGN8.48 trillion in 2020 to NGN9.45 trillion in 2021, mainly driven by growth in customer deposits. With the steady recovery in economic activities, the Group prudently grew its gross loans by 20%, from NGN2.9 trillion in 2020 to NGN3.5 trillion in 2021, with moderated NPL ratio from 4.29% to 4.19% YoY. The Group recorded impressive liquidity and capital adequacy ratios of 71.6% and 21.0%, which remained above regulatory thresholds of 30% and 15%, respectively.
In 2022, the Group intends to consolidate on the gains achieved in the previous year in all business segments and combine leadership in the industry, innovation and technology to drive improved performance and deliver enhanced returns to all stakeholders.
As a testament to its commitment to its shareholders, the bank has announced a proposed final dividend payout of N2.80 per share, bringing the total dividend to N3.10 per share.
Zenith Bank has continued to distinguish itself in the Nigerian financial services industry through superior service offerings, unique customer experience and sound financial indices. The bank remains a clear leader in the digital space with several firsts in deploying innovative products, solutions and an assortment of alternative channels that ensure convenience, speed and safety of transactions.
In recognition of its track record of excellent performance, Zenith Bank was voted as Best Commercial Bank in Nigeria in the World Finance Banking Awards 2021, Best Bank in Nigeria in the Global Finance World's Best Banks Awards 2020 and 2021, Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker's Bank of the Year Awards 2020, and Best in Corporate Governance 'Financial Services' Africa 2020 and 2021 by the Ethical Boardroom. Also, the bank emerged as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands 2020 and 2021, Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital in the "2021 Top 1000 World Banks" Ranking by The Banker Magazine and the Retail Bank of the year at the BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BOFI) Awards 2020 and 2021.
Similarly, Zenith Bank was honoured as Bank of the Decade (People's Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020 and emerged winner in four categories at the Sustainability, Enterprise, and Responsibility (SERAS) Awards 2021, carting home the awards for "Best Company in Reporting and Transparency", "Best Company in Infrastructure Development", "Best Company in Gender Equality and Women Empowerment", and the coveted "Most Responsible Organisation in Africa.