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February 26, 2019updated 01 Mar 2019 10:40am

Standard Chartered plans cost reduction as private banking loss widens

Standard Chartered private banking business has reported a statutory loss before tax of $38m for the year ended 31 December 2018, versus a loss of $16m a year ago.

The unit’s underlying pre-tax loss was $14m, as against a loss of $1m last year.

Operating income at the division rose 3% to $516m on a year-on-year basis.

The increase in income is said to be due to “improved product margins across Retail Deposits and Wealth Lending and higher Managed Investment income”, the bank said in a statement.

Compared to last year, wealth management income increased 2% to $305m while retail products income increased 5% to $211m.

Operating expenses at the private banking arm dipped 6% to $530m from $500m in the previous year.

Group profits surge

Overall, the banking group reported a statutory profit before tax of $2.5bn in 2018.

The figure is a 6% rise from $2.4bn in the previous year.

The group’s underlying profit before tax also increased, with a 28% surge to $3.9bn from $3bn.

Operating income at the group was $15bn in 2018, up 5% from $14.3bn in 2017.

The group CET1 ratio at the end of December 2018 stood at 14.2%, a rise of 60 basis points from last year.

Three year growth strategy unveiled

Alongside the results, Standard Chartered also unveiled its three-year growth strategy.

Under the plan, the bank intends to reduce $700m in costs and remove residual drags on returns from low-yielding markets such as India, Korea, UAE and Indonesia.

At the same time, it aims to ramp up growth in affluent client businesses.

The bank targets return on tangible equity of a minimum of 10% by 2021.

Besides, it plans to distribute shareholders surplus capital that is not used to support growth.

Standard Chartered group CEO Bill Winters said: “Over the last three years we have fundamentally overhauled the bank. It is now a solid platform off which we can grow profitably and sustainably to deliver a double-digit return on tangible equity by 2021.

“We will achieve this through relentlessly focusing on where we have a distinct competitive advantage, attacking the residual causes of lower returns and ramping-up innovation and productivity.”

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