June 28, 2021: The Pakistan Credit Rating Agency Limited (PACRA) has maintained ratings of Allied Bank Limited (ABL) at ‘AAA’ for the long term and ‘A1+’ for the short term with a stable outlook, reflecting a strong financial profile as evident from robust liquidity, and sound asset quality indicators.
According to the press release issued by PACRA, Allied Bank Limited’s franchise, spread over a network of 1,402 branches, has enabled sustainable footprints into the country’s deposit base. The Bank’s risk absorption capacity, as reflected in its sound equity base, has grown over the years. Another reflection of this is ABL's significantly robust CAR (25.2% as of Dec20), beyond the industry average.
While ABL has a realistic approach towards lending, increased attention is being diverted towards deepening current business relationships. An enduring emphasis is laid on building trade business. Also, more diversification is being planned to be achieved by enhancing portfolio in consumer, housing finance and auto loans.
The Bank’s technology platform is a strength. This has facilitated fast and effective decision making while extending quality counter Banking and e-Banking services to its customers, additionally, this also has enabled itself to operate with high efficiency and capacity even in the current pandemic situation. The related benefits would continue to unfold over the years. A more focused digital drive is one of the pillars of the envisaged strategy. In order to encourage the seamless flow of payments transaction between consumers and merchants through digital channels, ABL launched NIFT ePay, a domestic e-commerce gateway service launched by National Institutional Facilitation Technologies under “Digital Financial Services Platform” with a focus to re-align digital transformation and augment e-Banking ecosystem in the Country.
The ratings recognize the management's concerted efforts in sustaining the sound asset quality, which covered the high advances concentration comparatively to financially sound groups; ensuring that aggregate risks are within the Bank’s overall risk acceptance limits. The low infection ratio and good coverage ratio are considered positive.
The continued strengthening in the retail deposit market would enable further improvement in deposit granularity in terms of concentration as well as funding cost as CA has reported significant growth during the year. The market share needs to be harnessed. At the same time, achieving efficiency in terms of utilization of its healthy CAR may help in further boosting ABL’s market share and profitability.
Going forward, an enhanced focus on digitalization and process automation to enhance efficiency and reduce cost would augment the banking’s risk profile.
COVID-19 is an ongoing challenge. While it has taken a toll on many businesses, its ramifications are still unfolding. The proactive measures taken by the regulators and other concerning bodies have mitigated the potential damages much anticipated from this pandemic. As a result, the Banking industry remained protected and in fact posted record profits. Continued focus on strengthening its credit review procedures as exhibited earlier is required as the loan repayment cycle remains stretched amid variants of the pandemic continue to re-emerge.