Ecobank’s reputation took a battering last year as it became mired in a well-publicised corporate governance crisis. Its new chief executive, Albert Essien, has restored some calm, and he tells Paul Wallace how he hopes to make the kind of returns that will entice more international investors to buy its stock.
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Contracting growth in Italy since the beginning of the year has dampened any optimism for good first-half results at the country’s largest banks, after record losses in 2013. Although lenders have largely cleaned up their balance sheets, the credit quality of smaller businesses remains a problem.
Business is picking up for Rwanda’s banks following 2013’s slowdown. But competition is becoming more intense as foreign banks increasingly look to enter the fast-growing east African country.
Caught up in European regulation, Germany’s public banks are trying to adapt to new challenges. Across all three banking pillars in the country, financial institutions are particularly struggling with increased competition in retail banking and low profitability.
New regulatory pressures and slow economic growth have been taking their toll on the US's small regional lenders, leading to worries that many of them will be squeezed out of the market. But results from the first quarter of 2014 show that these smaller players are actually performing better than the country's larger lenders.
The complicated geographical and political make-up of Bosnia-Herzegovina, combined with its struggling economy and low purchasing power, makes life difficult for its overcrowded banking market. However, hope is on the horizon as economic growth picks up and looming elections bring promise of a more investor-friendly financial system.
With a global aggregate income of $12,500bn, and spending power beyond that, women represent one of the world’s largest banking markets. Yet most banks still seem unwilling or unable to service the unique needs of their female customers.
Computers have reached such a level of sophistication that they can now outperform their human counterparts at some tasks, a fact that has not gone unnoticed in the banking community. But, while smart machines are increasingly being utilised in customer service and data analysis capacities, advocates of these new technologies maintain that they are designed to complement rather than replace the traditional workforce.
There are commentators within the country who claim that the Saudi Arabian economy and its banking environment may well be the best in the world, with strong profits, a high level of capital investment and robust demographics. But there are concerns that small and medium enterprises do not have enough access to lending, providing a new focus for bank efforts.
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