Bank of the Year Nicaragua: Banco Lafise Bancentro

Bank of the Year Nicaragua: Banco Lafise Bancentro

Nicaragua’s political crisis has taken a toll on the economy, which contracted by 4% in 2018, the greatest dip since the country’s 1980s civil war.

And forecasts for this year suggest the economic troubles will continue, with the World Bank predicting the economy will shrink by another 5% in 2019.

Among Nicaragua’s banks, Banco Lafise Bancentro stood out for how it has navigated the economic and economic turbulence.

Faced with the deteriorating economy, the bank raised a total of $634 million in funding, including $99 million in senior debt, $52 million in subordinated debt, $132 million in short-term debt, along with $350 million in repurchase agreements with the central bank.

“Nicaragua was going through a period where deposits were falling significantly and one of our priorities was to shore up our liquidity,” says Justo Montenegro, the bank’s chief financial officer.

“Given the economic and political context, we set key goals: improving our liquidity, strengthening our solvency, and improving our revenues, efficiency and the quality of our assets.”

The focus on funding helped the bank raise its cash and cash equivalents to 89.4%, well above the industry average of 75%.

Lafise also grew its foreign exchange, remittance and investment securities commissions business. Over the last year, the bank saw its earned fees from remittances grow 34.6%, representing a 19.3% market share. The bank also decreased its administrative expenses by 4.6%, making it the most efficient bank in the country.

“I’d say we successfully accomplished what we set out to do,” says Montenegro.