In an increasingly competitive marketplace, one of the chief
aims of Ecuador¹s Banco Pichincha over the past year was
to diversify its services, says Jorge Chiriboga, the
bank¹s vice president for financial control.
The bank¹s total assets grew by 13.6% from December
2011 to August 2012 to $7.67 billion, with consumer credit
growing by 19.6% and commercial credit by 18.8%. But the
bank¹s profitability was down, to give a return on equity
of 13.8% from 15% and a return on assets of 1.3% from 2.1%.
In fact, the profitability of the entire financial system
declined, as changes to the regulatory environment hit balance
sheets and forced banks to become more adaptable.
ROE for the sector dropped from 18.9% in December 2011 to
14.9% in 2012.
This has called for nimble planning and strategy, says
Chiriboga. Measures have included price ceilings on interest
rates and fees on financial services, as well as tax reforms,
and divestment of assets.
³These levels of performance are the result of a
strategy that favors efficiency and strict cost control, and
whose focus is to generate adequate levels of profitability and
solvency,² says Chiriboga.
As part of regulations introduced this April, financial
institutions are limited in which services they can charge for.
This, added to another layer of restrictions announced in
July 2011 but which came into force this July has
prevented private sector financial institutions from holding
stakes in insurance and brokerage companies.
The bank has sold off its Fondos Pichincha, Seguros del
Pichincha, Pichincha Casa de Valores and Consorcio del
Pichincha plans to increase its national presence and to
attract more customers to the formal banking sector. It is
looking to expand its non-bank network to some 5,000 so it can
cover more ground, Chiriboga says.
The bank bought Lloyds Bank¹s assets and liabilities
for $20 million in 2010. It bought GMAC¹s assets in 2011
for $38.5 million. The Lloyds acquisition heightened
relationships with corporate clients, and the latter helped
Pichincha consolidate in vehicle financing, says the bank.
Further expansion through M&A remains a possibility,
though the bank indicates that it ³does not rule out the
evaluation of opportunities that may be of interest in the
country and the region.² Pichincha is weighing up issuing
a dollar bond possibly for $100 million in the
international markets, though timing has yet to be determined.
(The bank has issued shorter-term dollar debt domestically but
has yet to sell long-term debt internationally.) Presidential
elections next February will play a large part in determining
the future regulatory environment for banks and analysts
say a win by incumbent Rafael Correa could mean yet more
controls on financial institutions. LF