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The FICOBanking Way 2020

The Philippines has one of the most vibrant economies in the East Asia Pacific region. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, dimmed the country’s growth prospects for 2020 unexpectedly. The year that has just ended is characterized by a gloomy Philippine economy wherein millions of Filipinos go jobless, food prices rise, government debt balloons, consumption and investment growths decline, tourism and remittances slowed down, etc. In response to such sluggish economic setup, the Bangko Sentral put in place certain policy measures to cushion against the economic shocks of the pandemic crisis, such as regulatory reliefs to banks’ borrowers, assignment of lower risk weight for MSMEs exposures that are covered by government guarantees, among others.

  For us, at FICOBank, 2020 is indeed the most extraordinarily challenging year for our more than four decades of doing community banking, where our business continuity and resiliency was put in a great deal of turmoil. This pandemic year has been a litmus test for our ability to remain true to our brand promise of staying in the business of providing opportunities for the economic ascendancy to our clientele for good, and our capability to withstand the toughest tests of time.

  On one hand, our Board of Directors maintained its active oversight role, deliberating on the potential risks and imminent challenges that could impact our Bank and its stakeholders. On the other hand, we, at the Management, made mobilizing decisions to enable and direct necessary changes to keep our people, operations and performance at their optimal levels, as much as possible. More so, the collaborative efforts of the Operation & Banking Services Group (OBSG) and the Treasury & Corporate Services Group (TCSG) have always been amenable in maintaining our market dominance and financial strength.

  At the onset of the community lockdown and toward year-end, we resolved in calibrating our planned business initiatives for the year and have adopted countermeasures to address the variable risks of the ongoing pandemic. In staying vigilant to any business disruption that may occur at any given time, we primarily anchored on (i) prioritizing the health and safety of our employees and clients; (ii) conducting series of stress testing on our liquidity, credit and business continuity throughout the year; (iii) implementing cross-posting and cross-training among our personnel; and (iv) conducting risk assessment on some of our IT systems.

  During the year, we have also optimized the efficacy of our banking network—at a great extent—while adopting preventive measures, including alternating work schedules of our personnel, limiting banking hours in our operating units and observing proper health protocols at all times. While many establishments suspended their operations, we strived to remain open to meet the banking needs of our clientele.

  Our production thrusts for the year 2020 were certainly hampered by the adverse effects of the pandemic, like other financial institutions. Generation of loan accounts has been a struggle for our operating units, as we tightened up on some of our credit-granting policies and become more conservative in selecting our borrowers. Such business resolutions are for tempering those risks on our lending operation—our core line of business. As a financial organization, we were mandated as well to adopt the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act and Bayanihan to Recover as One (BARO) Act, granting loan-repayment extensions for our borrowers without incurring penalties and other charges. In effect, our Bank’s total loan portfolio in 2020 narrowed to Php3.00-billion level, lower by Php261.71 million from that of 2019’s Php3.26-billion figure.

  Nevertheless, and to some extent, our Bank—with its distinct identity as ang bangkong pinagtibay ng panahon—managed to survive and still able to wrap up the year with a better bottom line. For the year ended 31 December 2020, a net income of Php145.92 million was recorded, slightly higher than previous year’s record of Php145.31 million.

  It is worth mentioning, too, that despite the uncertainties and difficulties this time of crisis, individuals and businesses preferred to entrust their untapped savings to our Bank, making our deposit level soared to Php2.95 billion at end-December 2020. Similarly, our capital accounts grew by Php130.66 million, from Php1.08 billion a year ago to Php1.21 billion at end-2020.

  For 2021, our time, efforts and resources will be directed toward these new key points, namely: FICOBank reinforcement, IT infrastructure and automation of processes, complementary actions and services, organized and timely reports, vigilant lending operation, administrative empowerment, and compliance, control and risk management—or FICOVAC, for short.

  In closing, I extend my sincere gratitude to all our shareholders, directors, employees, funders and clients for your continuing trust and loyalty to FICOBank. And on a personal note, I am incredibly thankful to all our frontliners, who have continued to fulfill their responsibilities in serving our clients throughout this pandemic.

  All of you have been a source of great support and strength for us during this difficult time and we look forward to be working again on your behalf in 2021.

 

 

 

 

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