Reflections from the Chairperson
I would like to start my message by acknowledging the intricate web of world events, trends and disruptions that continue to shape the evolution of the global and regional financial services sector. From the ripple effects of international trade agreements to the repercussions of geopolitical shifts, from the transformative impact of emerging technologies to the resilience demanded by global crises, our industry continues to be challenged and tested. External conditions have changed considerably since the pre-COVID period and the world today is more volatile and uncertain, especially in the emerging markets where the Group is active.
I am pleased with the way the Group has responded to the dynamic operating context. We have demonstrated resilience and proven to our stakeholders that we can support them in the midst of external disturbances linked to the geopolitical uncertainty and growing risk of geo economic fragmentation. I also believe that the impact of the cost of living crisis triggered by the heightened inflationary pressures and the expected slowdown in economic activity in the world’s major markets will continue to require our full attention as the forthcoming year unfolds. Yet, I am confident that our people have the capability required to rise to these challenges. In fact, recent history has shown that market turbulences seem to bring out the best in MCB and in our people.
Indeed, despite the challenging environment, investors and key stakeholders will find many reasons to be pleased with the Group’s financial performance for FY 2022/23. Our profit attributable to shareholders increased by 46.7% to reach Rs 14,133 million while return on equity improved to 16.9% compared with 12.8% for the previous financial year. It is equally pleasing to note that we further consolidated our standing as the region’s premier financial services Group. We can be proud to have been ranked as the first banking institution in East Africa in terms of Tier 1 capital while we also improved our positioning globally to stand at the 597th spot as per the ‘Top 1000 World Banks’ of The Banker magazine for 2023. In addition to maintaining its investment grade status by Moody’s Investors Service, MCB Ltd won various awards, including the
‘Best Bank in Mauritius’ by Euromoney Awards for Excellence for a 10th consecutive year as well as the Best Bank in Mauritius by The Banker Bank of the Year Awards 2022.
These results and awards are particularly pleasing because at MCB we recognise the importance of placing our purpose, Success Beyond Numbers, at the heart of everything we do, while building the right culture to sustain our success. This success is defined in terms of our ability to win both in the marketplace and in the workplace. One, without the other, is suboptimal.
As I mentioned above, we delivered a strong set of results in FY 2022/23, on the back of our continuous endeavours to diversify our revenue base at the level of both banking and non-banking entities. Underlying our sustained improvement in net profit, net interest income rose by 30.3%,mainly reflecting the improved margins generated by our foreign currency earning assets amidst the successive hikes rise in interest rates in global markets as well as a further expansion in our interest earning assets, in particular, linked to our cross-border activities. Non-interest income increased by 38.7%, reflecting higher transaction volumes across entities, notably in terms of trade finance and payment activities, and favourable movement in the value of equity financial instruments. As a key source of satisfaction, we preserved our financial soundness in support of our growth strategy. The Group remained well capitalised with our consolidated BIS and Tier 1 capital ratios standing at 19.2% and 16.7% respectively as at 30 June 2023. We also maintained healthy liquidity and funding positions while our asset quality metrics have improved.
Amidst the unsteady landscape, Group entities have, during the course of the last financial year, pursued the execution of their business expansion strategy. Within the banking cluster, in spite of the highly competitive environment, MCB Ltd maintained its leadership position in Mauritius on the basis of its refined and more personalised value proposition and upgraded channel capabilities. It assisted domestic entrepreneurs and corporates to effectively deal with the challenges arising from the prevailing context. On the international front, we pursued our diversification agenda in market segments where we have built expertise. We forged partnerships with globally recognised stakeholders to offer an enriched value proposition towards facilitating cross-border flows among various trade and investment corridors, while in the process, promoting the positioning of the Mauritian International Financial Centre. We continue to partner and support African economies through oil and gas financing alongside accompanying their transition to cleaner energy. That said, we are conscious of the fact that these countries are still highly dependent on traditional sources of energy for their development and that the transition to cleaner sources is likely to require time as well as huge investments. We have also been active on the infrastructure project financing front, with deep commitment towards making a difference in the African energy landscape, especially in the electric generation arena, with emphasis on recourse to renewable energy and gas. Further, we strengthened our involvement vis-à-vis overseas high net worth customers and external asset managers, backed by a wide range of tailor-made investment solutions and advisory services, as well as enhanced market visibility, namely through our Advisory Office in Dubai. Our foreign banking subsidiaries have pursued their balance sheet growth by leveraging a customer centric approach and various value creating initiatives, alongside capitalising on enhanced synergies across the Group to accompany clients doing business in our presence countries. In the non-banking field, our entities have sustained efforts to pursue their market positioning, with MCB Capital Markets, in particular, making inroads in its business endeavours in the region.
“ We realise that a key differentiator in the highly competitive market we operate in is the ability to provide outstanding client experiences.”
For 185 years, we have followed trade and investment flows to support our customers as they pursue their goals. The latest technologies enable us to better meet the needs of customers and increase the speed at which we are able to develop and deploy new products. At the same time, we are conscious that extracting maximum benefit from our digital investments requires us to be agile and more innovative in the way that we work. As such, we are focused on attracting and developing talent capable of excelling in a digital and more sophisticated context so that the level of support we provide to our customers remains world-class and differentiated.
Yet, attracting new talent is only half of the equation. The Group must continue to ensure that we proactively and intentionally create an environment where talented employees can thrive and impact customer outcomes. Deploying the right corporate culture remains a high priority for the Board because it is the surest way to guarantee sustained performance in times of uncertainty and rapid change. We continue to work with the Management team to ensure that the ‘Shared Ways of Working’ are embedded across the Group and appropriately assessed and rewarded. Our efforts to further strengthen our succession pools also remains an absolutely foremost priority.
As I highlighted, digitalisation continues to reshape how our customers access the services provided by the Group. Given our strong market position in Mauritius and our ambition to expand our activities in our other presence countries and beyond, we are continuously investing in digital tools and channels that help to differentiate us from our competitors and enable us to scale the right ideas at pace. In this respect, I am happy to note that MCB Juice, our mobile banking application for individual customers, has recently been endowed with additional functionalities, and that we are continuously increasing its usage not only in Mauritius, but also in Seychelles and Madagascar. We are also strengthening our presence in the entrepreneur and merchant communities through the introduction of new applications and are hence contributing to increase the transition to digital payments in Mauritius.
We realise that a key differentiator in the highly competitive market we operate in is the ability to provide outstanding client experiences. We continue, therefore, to tune our digital operations with a view to delivering differentiated client experiences. Alongside harnessing data and analytics, we are embedding the voice of the customer at the heart of our strategy through our Customer Lab that combines market data, cocreation research and design experimentation with the aim of re-imagining customer experiences. We are keen on doing more to create positive customer experiences, backed by a customer-centric approach. We are reinforcing our efforts to boost customer experience with the setting up of a dedicated strategic office to coordinate and monitor the execution of related initiatives.
Winning in the workplace also entails living our purpose by delivering a positive economic, societal and environmental contribution. In this respect, advancing our sustainability agenda continues to be of paramount importance as we execute our strategy. I am particularly pleased to note that we launched a new Sustainable Loan offer with an envelope of Rs 10 billion which is dedicated to assisting domestic companies in their lowcarbon transition. On the regional front, we have also made inroads in accompanying the execution of clean energy projects. In addition, our focus on ESG extends to our own workplace, where we are nurturing an environment that prioritises the wellbeing of employees while we are also progressively advancing gender equality within the organisation.
Whilst we will continue to navigate uncertain waters, I believe there are compelling reasons to be optimistic as the Group observes, assesses, and acts on the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead to implement our growth agenda and invest for the future. As such, we will continue to create and consolidate the necessary building blocks for achieving sound, diversified and sustained business development, with sustainability remaining at the core of our activities. Emphasis will also be on further scaling up our investments in technology, closely following and embracing the rapid and latest developments in new technologies to uphold our competitive edge and deliver exceptional client experiences. To effectively support this objective, we will strive to successfully embed a strong innovation culture across the organisation and further federate our people around this theme. On this front, I am pleased with our decision to create a Technology and Innovation Board subcommittee, reporting to the Group Strategy Committee, with a view to centralising decision-making regarding the roadmap to be implemented in the technology arena, going forward, and closely coordinating and monitoring the Group’s associated investments. In parallel, the Group will further strengthen its risk management and compliance frameworks to effectively identify and respond to core and emerging risks.
On behalf of the Board, I would like to express my sincere thanks to our customers and shareholders for their continued trust and confidence in the organisation and its leadership. I also extend my gratitude to the Management teams and staff across all Group entities who remain committed to living our purpose and for their resolve and determination. I also wish to thank my fellow Directors for their valuable counsel and continued support in guiding the organisation through the persistently volatile and uncertain operating environment. During the year, we had the pleasure of welcoming Cédric Jeannot and Jayananda Nirsimloo as Independent Non-Executive Directors of the Board. I look forward to both of them making significant contributions to the Board in the years ahead. Jean-Jacques Dupont De Rivalz De St Antoine retired from the Board in November last. On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Jean-Jacques for his dedication and strong contribution over his years of service.
Deploying the right corporate culture remains a high priority for the Board because it is the surest way to guarantee sustained performance in times of uncertainty and rapid change.
On another note, with the retirement of Pierre Guy Noel, Jean Michel Ng Tseung who was appointed as Chief Executive Designate of MCB Group Ltd in September 2021 has been confirmed as Group Chief Executive, with effect from 1st March 2023. On behalf of the Board, I wish to congratulate Jean Michel on his appointment and wish him all the very best in his role at the helm of the Group. The Board also expresses its utmost gratitude to Pierre Guy Noel for his truly remarkable contribution and for his tireless efforts towards the transformation and development of the MCB Group over the years.
Looking ahead, I have no doubt that, thanks to our resilient business model and robust balance sheet, and especially the dedication of our employees as well as the relentless support of our shareholders and customers, we shall continue creating long-term value for all our stakeholders.
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