ASB full-year profit lifts 34 percent to $1.2 billion the year to June

It follows a 20 percent decline in the year to June 2020, due to COVID-19.
It follows a 20 percent decline in the year to June 2020, due to COVID-19. Photo credit: File.

ASB has declared a cash net profit of $1.295 billion in the year to June 30, 2021.

That's up a whopping 34 percent on the previous year (an increase of $330 million), when the bank reported a 20 percent decline in profit due to COVID-19.

The bank said the result was driven by 10 percent growth in total lending. As a result of New Zealand's buoyant property market, home lending was up 12 percent on the year before.  Business lending was up 9 percent. 

The bank confirmed it lent money to almost 15,000 first-home buyers over the year.

Operating expenses increased 5 percent, which ASB said was due to investment in people and technology. Its workforce grew by 10 percent, adding over 500 new roles through the year.

The bank's loan impairment expense decreased $311 million.

ASB chief executive Vittoria Shortt said the full-year results reflected a stronger than expected recovery.

"A decisive response from Government and our banking system supported Kiwi businesses and households to be resilient during the pandemic," Shortt said. 

"While a balanced recovery is still a significant way off, ASB is in a strong position to keep supporting Kiwis as we work together towards a productive and sustainable New Zealand."

The bank’s net interest margin increased by six basis points. It follows a decrease of 11 basis points the previous year.

ASB said it delivered on its promise to use the Reserve Bank Funding for Lending programme to the benefit of all New Zealanders. Almost $4 billion was set aside for purpose led loans.

Initiatives such as 'Back my Build' were launched, offering a 1.79 percent variable (floating) interest rate. This offered cash back for customers who committed to build an energy efficient home, or who were building their first home.

"Demand for Back My Build has significantly exceeded expectations - in just over a month, we received applications to support the construction of around 3000 new homes," Shortt said.

At least $1 billion of this discounted lending had been earmarked to support businesses investing in infrastructure and sustainability projects, with over $450 million in loans already approved. 

Over $100 million has been set aside to provide low-cost to farmers taking positive steps to reduce their environmental impact, available through ASB's rural sustainability loan.

The bank said it provided COVID-19 relief on over $13 billion in loans. It expected fees either removed or reduced would save customers $28 million in the year ahead.