Danske Bank has posted pre-tax profits of £90.8m amid a strong mortgage book and further reduced loan impairments.
The bank said its mortgage business was a “key driver” for its performance in 2019. It said its mortgage lending was at its highest ever level and that it held 22% of all new mortgages in Northern Ireland, up from 6% four years ago.
Vicky Davies, deputy chief executive, said that in the past 12 months “we have helped over 2,000 local first-time buyers realise their home owning ambitions”.
“Mortgages were the key driver of the bank’s overall lending in 2019,” she said. “Danske Bank’s total mortgage lending is at its highest ever level, and it is noteworthy that in the past 12 months we have helped over 2,000 local first time buyers realise their home owning ambitions.
“The high quality service provided through our contact centre was recognised when we were named NI’s Contact Centre of the Year for the second year in a row.
“We also marked the first anniversary of the Catalyst Belfast Fintech Hub, a co-working space for early-stage tech entrepreneurs on the ground floor of our head office, run in partnership with the not-for-profit entrepreneurial eco-system, Catalyst.”
Richard Caldwell, managing director, personal banking and small business, said that the bank had “completely transformed” its mortgage offering and was confident it would continue to grow.
“If you’re going to grow your mortgage book you need to think about first-time buyers but also home movers,” he said. “We’re also supporting a lot of self-builds in rural communities which is an important element. Probably the thing we moved most on in Q3 and Q4 last year is the switcher market.
“These are people who are not moving house but moving mortgage for a better deal or better service.”
But the bank, which has 40 branches, said new lending to business during the year had been affected by Brexit, with some customers delaying investment decisions. Total income during the year was steady at £233.2m, with the bank saying levels had held despite continued economic and political uncertainty.
Lending was 3% higher year-on-year, and retail customer activity was satisfactory. Customer deposits grew by 7% year-on-year and costs were down by 1% compared to the same period last year.
Shaun McAnee, managing director, corporate and business banking, said he was “not surprised” demand for business lending was down given the “political and commercial uncertainty”.
“Interestingly it’s not just that demand has gone back a bit. The construct of the demand has changed as well,” he said.
Ms Davies said that “as the UK navigates its way through the Brexit process, our role in Northern Ireland, as the biggest bank here, will be a crucial one. There will be continuing challenges to economic growth in 2020, and Northern Ireland in particular will need to adapt to new Brexit realities quickly”.
“A rejuvenated and focused Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly is of paramount importance. I would like to congratulate the political parties for working together to return the institutions, we wish them well and they will have our full support.”