Shareholders were greeted by the Chairman of AFS, Mr. Rex James, who introduced the company’s Board of Directors. Mr. James praised his management team and staff and thanked shareholders for their support in 2016 as the company enjoyed a successful year and noted this, “reflects a steadfast commitment to the execution of strategies focused on growth.”
Following the Chairman’s opening remarks, the meeting was then turned over to Mr. Marcus James, Chief Executive Officer, who reiterated, the company enjoyed a fruitful year. Mr. Marcus James further stated, “notwithstanding the developments in the sector and increased competition, 2017 financial year closed with AFS achieving revenue of $1.4 billion, net profit of $678 million and an earnings per share of $2.47.” Access Financial Services recorded total assets of $3.1 billion with loans and advances making up $2.8 billion. Mr. James attributed this to the, “growth in the Company’s personal loan portfolio as well as growth in the Company’s business product lines,” Growth in the loan portfolio was also attributed to the acquisition of Damark Limited’s net assets.
The acquisition came off the back of the strategic initiatives pursued last year which were, “increasing the Company’s market share of the local micro finance and SME market, improving the quality of customer interaction, and enhancing operational efficiency,” according to the CEO. With the strategic initiatives set, the company acquired the net assets of Damark Limited in June 2016 as the Mr. James further stated, “the purchase was strategic, and resulted in the addition of new customers and synergies which can be achieved to enhance the Company’s operations.” The company also improved internal processes to increase process flow and reduce customer waiting time, resulting in an overall enhanced customer experience. Mr. James stated, “currently our personal loan disbursement timeline is two hours, for the submission of a completed application. We are seeking to implement enhancements which will reduce the operating timeframe even further.”
Speaking on the importance of the microfinance sector, the CEO noted, “Government’s interest in the sector has prompted the passage of a micro-credit bill. The primary intention of the bill is to formalize the sector by requiring operators within the sector be “fit and proper” and the lending is conducted in a transparent manor.” He further noted that, “it is anticipated that the Government will continue to allow interest rates to be determined by market forces along with basic emphasis on consumer education.”
Speaking on the outlook for the company, Mr. Marcus James assured shareholders AFS will work, “to ensure continued operational success in achieved in this environment. Focus must be placed on providing customers with excellent service, maintaining a lean and operationally efficient organization driven by technology and supported by a highly-motivated team.