Commonwealth Bank of Australia boss Matt Comyn says his bank’s strong capital position is enabling it to deal with a range of scenarios as the economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
But addressing the bank’s annual general meeting on Tuesday, Mr Comyn also warned some Australians and businesses will continue to require its support.
“For those customers who are facing financial hardship or need more support, we are offering solutions tailored to their individual needs,” he said.
Opening the virtual AGM, the bank’s chair Catherine Livingstone said it is well-advanced in implementing the recommendations of the Hayne royal commission into financial services.
“During the year, we took further action and provisions to remediate customers impacted by past issues,” she said.
“As at the 30th of June, we had delivered refunds to customers of more than $730 million over the time since 2015.”
Mr Comyn said measures in last week’s federal budget to grow employment should help to provide certainty and confidence for both employers and employees.
“We also recognise that some Australians and businesses will continue to require support,” he said.
He said CBA teams have made more than 300,000 calls to customers with deferred loans to talk to them about their options.
As of September, deferrals stood at $42 billion, down almost 40 per cent from $67 billion in June.
“As the largest bank, our priority is to play a significant leadership role in Australia’s recovery,” he said.
He said the bank’s financial results demonstrated its underlying strengths as customers and the economy faced the impact of the pandemic.
Across the business there had been strong volume growth, particularly in home lending and deposits.
“We achieved 25 per cent growth in transaction account balances, our strongest ever transaction volume growth, representing $45 billion in the first half of this calendar year,” Mr Comyn said.
“Our retail bank extended its lead in home lending, supporting customers with over $100 billion in new loans.”
The bank also provided $27 billion to business customers, with the final quarter of the financial year seeing the strongest growth in two years.
The bank’s final dividend for the second half of the year of 98 cents per share conformed to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s guidance that banks should retain at least 50 per cent of their earnings, coming in at 49.95 per cent.
This brought the total dividend to $2.98 per cent, fully franked, with the bank returning $5.3 billion to shareholders.
APRA’s guidance remains in place until the end of this calendar year.
Ms Livingstone said the bank has remained focused on executing its “simpler, better bank strategy”.
“We have now substantially divested, or ceased, our wealth management businesses,” she said.
“This has allowed management to focus on driving operational excellence in retail and business banking, and on maintaining the bank’s leadership in digital banking and innovation.”