Posted on Friday 15 February 2019 by John Mulgrew
Ulster Bank has posted a pre-tax profit of £51m while its boss here says a worst case ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario could impact consumer behaviour here.
Richard Donnan, head of Northern Ireland for Ulster Bank, said overall the bank posted a “positive set of results” while each of the main lending streams are “all showing double-digit growth”, fuelled by a mixture of customer demand and more buoyant lending.
Overall, income rose from £184m to £191m during 2018, while profit after impairments stood at £51m.
On deposits, Mr Donnan said: “There is good liquidity in the market. We have nearly twice as many deposits as loans.”
There was a 15% rise in new corporate lending, while small business rose by 27%. And mortgages saw a 30% rise, year-on-year.
On Brexit uncertainty, and the impact for the business and wider economy, Mr Donnan told Ulster Business:
“… there’s a lot of uncertainty in the year ahead, and that impacts us as well. There’s a potential impact for us, directly… our focus is to make sure that we can support our customers through this, no matter what the outcome will be.
“We are preparing our business on the basis on the worst case scenario, and our focus is to support customers. It’s very uncertain to predict the next 12 months, because the range of outcomes are quite varied.
“What we are doing is supporting our customers as they prepare, having conversations with them and helping them prepare for the outcomes.”
Asked about any concern over a tightening of belts or stagnation in the consumer market over the next few months, he said:
“Interestingly, there has been some slowdown in the investment side at a UK level. The biggest impact on the consumer side, is if there was a ‘no deal’ outcome and that has an impact on the wider economy in business – the downstream (for consumers). Whether that’s on employment levels, or energy costs, or inflation, coming through.”
Speaking about the overall results, generally, Mr Donnan said: “Our core business in Northern Ireland continues to show a positive performance of £51m profit, with this being driven by improved underlying performance across all areas of our business – our profit before impairments and taxes has risen by over 80% in the last two years (2016 – £31m). The strength of this bank is put to use by supporting the Northern Ireland economy.
“Lending drawdowns by small businesses were up 27% in the year, we helped over 30,000 people get financially fitter through a free financial health check, and we have retained the largest share of the personal and business current account market in Northern Ireland.
“Customers continue to change the way they bank with us. We have a continuing and successful focus on controlling our operational costs, which has enabled us to prioritise investment in the innovation and digital services that customers tell us they want.”