THE FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY is one of the consistent success stories of the country, attracting talent and investment both locally and internationally and posting robust growth year after year. The three main sectors, banking and finance (including Non-Bank Financial Services and Forex Bureaux); insurance; and financial market/ capital markets all have major players actively competing, giving credit to government policy to liberalise the sector while maintaining strong regulatory oversight.
Government policy is contained in the Financial Sector Strategic Plan (FINSSP), approved in 2003, which aims at broadening and deepening the financial sector. Improved governance in the financial markets remains an important focus for the continued reform agenda.
Through the implementation of the FINSSP the Government of Ghana intends to promote the evolution of a financial sector appropriate for the needs of a country moving towards middle-income status. The vision is one of a financial sector which is responsive to the needs of the 21st century, particularly given the prospect of greater international and regional competition and opportunity for Ghanaian financial market participants.
The Banking Act 2004, amended to Banking Act 2007, established the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC). This is set to increase the competitiveness of the Ghanaian financial sector. Under the IFSC, Barclays Bank has been given the licence to operate the first offshore bank in the sub region. More than 37% of bank branches are located in Greater Accra.
Following significant improvements in the financial system, there is no doubt that the sector is now in a better shape to play the effective role of harnessing financial resources for sustainable economic growth of the country.
Developments in the banking system as of January 2014 show a continuous surge in asset growth resulting mainly from credit expansion. Banks' deposits and borrowings were used to fund the growth in assets.
Total assets of the banking industry grew on an annual basis by 46.2% to GHcents7,807m as of January 2014, compared with 38.1% growth for the same period in 2013.
As of January 2014 net loans and advances had reached GHcents3,868.7m, recording an annual growth of 59.2% compared with growth of 37.6% a year earlier.
Banks' investments reached GHcents1,363m in January 2014 recording a year-on-year deceleration of 0.4% compared with 37.5% in the 12-month period to January 2013.