Belfast Telegraph

British banks defy Brexit gloom to increase profits by a third

A number of European countries, such as Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark, saw their banking profits tumble during the year.

HSBC also made large profits in Asia (Matt Crossick/PA)
HSBC also made large profits in Asia (Matt Crossick/PA)

British banks have defied the Brexit gloom to increase their profits by a third, outpacing the Eurozone, according to new figures.

In the UK, a number of the major banks saw profits surge in 2018, according to The Banker’s latest ranking of the Top 1000 World Banks.

Meanwhile, a number of European countries, such as Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark, saw their banking profits tumble during the year.

The UK was boosted by strong profits at HSBC, which were pushed higher by its retail banking and wealth management divisions, according to the industry list.

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Barclays turned a loss into a profit even after setting aside significant Brexit provisions (Joe Giddens/PA)

HSBC also made large profits in Asia, casting aside concerns over the prospect of a trade war between the US and China.

Elsewhere in the UK, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) continued its return to profit after years of losses, and Barclays turned a loss into a profit even after setting aside significant Brexit provisions.

UK banks posted strong profits, but did not deliver the best results in Europe, with French banks reporting higher profits and return on capital.

Despite profit growth, UK banks ranked in the lower end of the world standards when it came to return on capital, at 8%.

Due to its large size, when HSBC has a good year, UK banking profits as a whole tend to have a good year Brian Caplen, editor of The Banker

Brian Caplen, editor of The Banker, said: “Due to its large size, when HSBC has a good year, UK banking profits as a whole tend to have a good year.

“Add to that the improved performance at RBS and Barclays, and another strong set of results from Lloyds, and the UK banking sector starts to look increasingly healthy.

“Unlike the situation before the financial crisis, UK banks are not taking undue risks to make profits and the sector is well-capitalised.

“They should be safe in the case of a no-deal Brexit.”

PA

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