ANZ (ANZ.AX), Australia’s fourth-largest lender, said on Monday that an increase in demand for its institutional banking services drove its annual earnings to a record. However, an aggressive effort to sell more mortgages caused its margin to decrease, which resulted in the company’s shares decreasing.
According to the company, ANZ has profited from an institutional payments infrastructure that conducts some of the world’s most significant cross-border transactions. This comes as Australia’s banks are shifting their focus away from their traditional revenue engine of mortgages, driven by more competition due to interest rate rises.
This caused the bank’s institutional unit’s net profit to increase by 53%, surpassing the retail unit’s net profit in terms of monetary value during the year ending in September. This contributed to the Melbourne-listed company’s total profit increasing by 14% to A$7.4 billion ($4.7 billion), narrowly missing the Visible Alpha consensus expectation of A$7.56 billion.
The bank’s retail branch is the only one of Australia’s so-called big four lenders that has continued to make cash handouts to lure mortgage clients searching for a lower deal. Analysts have raised worry over a faster-than-expected erosion of the bank’s profit margin from its retail section.
Even though ANZ’s institutional division increased its net interest margin (NIM), which is the interest it collects on loans minus the interest it pays to deposit-holders, the bank’s overall NIM decreased ten basis points to 1.65% in the six months leading up to September. This is more than the NIMs reported this month by competitors Westpac (WBC.AX) and National Australia Bank (NAB.AX).
ANZ shares were down 2.7% by the middle of the afternoon, compared to a 0.2% decline on the entire market (AXJO), as investors worried that the bank would be compromising profitability for mortgage volume, which had been below average in prior years.
UBS analysts noted in a client note that the results of retail banking “reflect the cost of ANZ growing above market during a period of heightened competition and possibly irrational pricing, particularly in mortgages.” According to the analysts at Barrenjoey, the reduction in profit margins for retail banks “highlights further pain to come.”
ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott denied forgoing margin to increase mortgages faster than the market and contradicted remarks from rival banks that have indicated they were purposely reducing mortgage expansion while competition reduced profit.
“The fact that others have stepped back from the market—I think there’s a lot of people rationalizing their loss of share,” he said in a teleconference with journalists. “I think there are a lot of people rationalizing their loss of share.”
They are the ones who should respond to that question, not me. My only piece of information is that we have been gaining more clients than we ever had in the past.
The ultimate dividend that ANZ has announced is 94 Australian cents per share, an increase over the previous year’s payout of 74 cents.