Standard Chartered has issued its Q1 2021 results revealing a pre-tax profit of $1.4bn, up from $1.2bn in Q1 2020.

For the three months to 31 March 2021, reported net interest income was down 11% to $1.75bn, while other income fell 9% to $2.3bn.

The loss in income reflects changes to derivative valuations, which if discounted, would have seen a 4% rise in income following strong performances from Wealth Management and Financial Markets businesses.

Bill Winter, group chief executive commented: “Our first quarter performance was strong. Economic recovery advanced in many of our markets leading to improved transaction volumes and profitability.

“This was particularly the case in our Financial Markets and in Wealth Management, which had its best ever quarter.”

The group also saw an increase in operating costs, slightly offset by a 98% year-on-year fall in provisions for bad loans.

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Expenses increased by 6% to $2.5bn, which was attributed to “performance related pay normalisation with underlying efficiencies funding higher investment”.

The bank did not pay a dividend and instead completed a share buy-back programme, purchasing $255m of shares across the quarter. Share price increased by 7% following the announcement.

Indicative of the digital transition taking place across the financial sector, Standard Chartered revealed a growth in digitally initiated transactions, up 3% points in Q1 2021 to 44%. Subsequently, it anticipated further increases in expenses as it continues to invest in its digital capabilities.

Adding over 400,000 new clients across the last 12 months, Winter anticipated that the larger markets would continue to drive the global economy out of recession over the coming quarters.

Commenting on the strategic changes made by the firm, Winter added: “Our areas of strategic focus including efforts to lead with a differentiated sustainability offering are growing well. Despite low interest rates, we expect our underlying momentum to lead to income growth in the second half of 2021.”