Commercial banks in Kenya have posted good financial performance as indicated by ROA and ROE. This coincides with a period of enormous diversification occasioned by global financial sector liberalization, allowing banks to venture into a range of businesses while maintaining the traditional intermediation business. Theory and empirical evidence is equivocal on the financial performance impact of diversification. Often, theory provides an isolated analysis of the diversification – performance relationship which limits their generalizations especially in the face of systemic financial risks and crisis. Using an ex post facto explanatory design we investigate whether bank diversification affects financial performance and whether this effect is moderated by solvency and credit risk based on panel data from 34 commercial banks in Kenya over nine firm years. The authors find that income and asset diversification negatively and significantly affect commercial bank ROA while geographical diversification significantly – positively affect both ROA and ROE. We also find a significant positive moderation effect of credit risk on relationship between income diversification and ROA but a significant negative effect on relationship between asset diversification and geographical diversification with both ROA and ROE. On solvency risk, we find a significant positive moderation effect on relationship between geographical diversification and ROE.
ISSN: 2241-0996 (Online)