When Co-operative Bank of Kenya (COOP) announced last week that they were hiring global consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, for advice on improving operational efficiency, investors took notice. The stock has jumped 12.4% since the news appeared.
So why are investors so excited? How much scope does COOP — Kenya’s fifth-largest bank in terms of market capitalization — have to streamline its operations? And how might such restructuring impact the bottom line?
First, it’s important to note that COOP isn’t the only Kenyan bank to call in “The Firm.” Less than a month ago, Equity Bank (EQTY) also revealed that it had asked McKinsey to advise it on strategy. And, in 2011, KCB Bank Group (KCB) brought them in to assist with a restructuring that eventually slashed the bank’s management payroll by 42%.
Quite simply, McKinsey is very good at what it does, and its growing roster of blue chip clients in East Africa is testament to this.
To get a sense of what they might be able to do for COOP, let’s take a look at how well Kenyan banks presently manage the cost of doing business.
The chart below shows each Kenyan bank’s cost-to-income ratio over the first six months of 2014. We calculate the cost-to-income ratio by dividing total operating expenses by total operating income.
Kenya’s Most Efficient Listed Banks
[table id=198 /]
Judging from the data above, it would seem that McKinsey’s consultants have lots of fat to trim at COOP.
The bank keeps less than 42 shillings as pre-tax income for every 100 shillings it generates in the form of net interest income and fees. Meanwhile, the lean, mean banking machine that is I&M Holdings (IMH) keeps nearly 61 shillings for each 100 shillings of operating income.
If COOP could cut its cost-to-income ratio to 50% (a level that remains well above its most efficient peers), it would result in a 20.1% boost to pre-tax profit. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
But how realistic is it to expect such a reduction in expenses?
Salary Costs at Kenyan Banks
Well, for most banks, the biggest cost of doing business (apart from interest expense) is staff compensation. Thus, this is what McKinsey will likely try to slash first.
The table below compares the proportion of operating income that each Kenyan bank spends on staff salaries and compensation.
[table id=199 /]
As you can see, COOP’s wage bill isn’t nearly as bloated as that of National Bank of Kenya (NBK), but it’s not exactly svelte either. The leanest banks on the list reap more than five shillings of operating income for every one shilling they pay out in the form of salaries. COOP gets just four shillings.
Look for this gap to narrow over the next year or two. If McKinsey can help COOP bring staff costs down to 20% of operating income, downsizing alone could boost pre-tax earnings by nearly 12%.
This will doubtless mean hardship for some of Cooperative Bank of Kenya’s 4,177 employees, but it will also give the bank more flexibility to lower its lending rates, putting growth capital within reach of more Kenyan households and businesses.
What Do You Think?
Did it surprise you that Co-operative Bank of Kenya ranks as one of Kenya’s least efficient banks? COOP shares now trade at a price-to-book ratio of 2.7. Considering the potential impact of cost-cutting, does the stock look like a good buy to you at today’s prices? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.
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13 thoughts on “Here’s Why Co-operative Bank of Kenya Stock Popped 12%”
Hi…you should have revised this as national bank of kenya recently engaged the firm which saw more than 200 staff opt for voluntary early retirement.This saw nbk shares rise to above ksh.35.00 but later dropped…what was the positive impact on the efficiency ratio…the drop could be attributed to rights issue that is likely to take place early 2015.
Many thanks for bringing this to our attention, Saphan. I hadn’t realized that NBK was also working with McKinsey. Do you know when the retirements took place? It could be that staff costs actually increased temporarily as NBK incentivized staff to leave.
We have been experiencing a change of tactic by manufacturing firm that have opted on importing products ready to be sold to the Kenyan market rather than manufacturing them locally.This has seen a number of Kenyan’s loose their jobs within a very short time.This spells doom for Kenyan economy as it is likely to negatively Kenyan economy…what i fail to understand what is making this firms to exit Kenya with the presence of cheap man power,furthermore this is likely to reducing the purchasing power of Kenyans…hence further more prompting other firms in production reduce their production as a result of reduced market resulting to more job cuts.The Laffer curve well explains well ”the arithmetic and economic effect” of government taxes…telecommunication firms have opted to exit Kenyan market…this will be a blow to consumers due to future likely monopoly in the rapid growing telecommunication industry.
Kindly expedite the economic effect of this change of tactic by manufacturing firm…the other day Sugar firms directors would prefer importing sugar then repackaging and selling the same as local sugar which saw farmers go for months without pay…how are manufacturing firms in other countries able to lower cost of production contrary to firms in Kenya.
Very educative piece and being an investor am grateful for finding this page. What surprises me is that am already invested in I&M and Stanchart bank yet I’ve never used the metrics u’ve explained in the article. So the rankings provide some reassurance. Keep up the good work.
Thanks, Patty! So glad you found the site useful. And congrats for owning shares of I&M and Standard Chartered Kenya. They’re two of the tightest ships in the business.
Ryan, thanks for this insightful report! Appreciate updates Shapan and agree with Patty.
Many thanks, Rachel. Glad to see you here!
Good Work Ryan
Thanks, Anon. 😀
The voluntary early retirement took place in August,2014 and for this NBK must have reduced their staff cost and furthermore they have increased their branch network n off site ATMs.This a strategy to ensure presence in all the 47 counties as soon as possible.
Hope you already have a book by Martin Oduor-Otieno…a biography…”Beyond the shadows of my dream”…the former CEO of Kenya Commercial Bank who had previously worked with Barclay’s Bank,British American Tobacco and the Government of Kenya during president Moi’s tenure.
A very good article but i would like to know what is the most favorable/recommended cost-income ratio for banks in kenya