Bank Characteristics and Dividend Payout of Tier One Commercial Banks in Kenya
Mwangi, Simon Kirembu
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Commercial banks have been identified as one of the priority sectors that would remarkably participate in attainment of Kenya’s Vision 2030 since they perform a critical part in enabling and transforming the economy through mobilization of savings. However, dividend payout for Tier I banks in Kenya has remained relatively stagnant over the years even with improved financial performance. Central Bank of Kenya reports show that Kenya’s banking sector is very profitable with the average return on asset being about 2.6 per cent for the years between 2016-2021. During the same period, commercial banks have been registering improving financial performance. Firms can be differentiated from one another based on distinct characteristics which can be financial or non-financial. Studies done on this area observed significant correlation between various firm characteristics and dividend payout. However, there are gaps on academic literature and studies on large financial institution characteristics as well as replicating the same in the Kenyan context. Thus, this study sought to determine the effect of bank characteristics on dividend payout of Tier I banks in Kenya. The study specifically aimed at objectively quantifying effect of bank size, liquidity, and profitability on dividend payout of Tier I banks in Kenya. Profitability indicators were used as performance indicators and specifically earnings per share. The study was directed by several theories including Fama-French theory, pecking order theory, free cash flow theory and dynamic trade-off theory. Positivism philosophy, descriptive statistics and inferential analysis were employed for empirical evaluation of data. Descriptive statistics employed comprised of mean and standard deviation which are measures of central tendency and maximum values and minimum values. Inferential analysis comprised of regression analysis and Pearson’s correlation analysis. Target population was all nine (9) Tier I banks listed at the Nairobi Securities Exchanges (NSE). Secondary data was acquired from audited and published financial reports of the nine (9) banks for the period between 2016-2021 using document review guide. Descriptive analysis and panel regression were applied for data testing. Independent variables were bank size, liquidity, and profitability while dependent variable was dividend payout. Market capitalization was used as a measure for bank size, book-to-market value as a measure for liquidity and earnings per share as a measure for profitability. Results indicated liquidity had negative statistically significant effect on dividend payout while both bank size and profitability had negative statistically insignificant effect on dividend payout. The study thus determined that bank characteristics had insignificant effect on dividend payout for Tier I banks. The study therefore recommends that bank management ought to focus on increasing their profitability through growth of interest income, non-funded income as well as employ cost cutting measures and making investments on innovations and latest technologies that increase efficiency. Additionally, the study recommends that prospective investors ought to invest in commercial banks with higher profit margin, with relatively lower liquidity which indicate strong future profit projections, with better policies on retained earnings and with better efficiencies including better credit and reputational risk management policies. The study also recommends that CBK consider reducing Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) and NSE consider an alternative stock classification system which will categorizes stocks in same sector based on size which will give a clear insight of the risk-return trade off characteristics at the NSE. The study recommends more research should be done to establish effect of bank characteristic on dividend payout on Tier 2 and Tier 3 banks in Kenya then a comparison can be made to this study which is on Tier 1 banks.