“The past year presented some extraordinary challenges for our customers, colleagues and communities. We provided exceptional levels of support to those who needed it, including the approval of over £14 billion of lending under UK Government schemes, demonstrating that we have truly put Our Purpose at the heart of this business. Being purpose-led isn’t just the right thing to do, it has a powerful commercial imperative and is fundamental to building sustainable value in our business.
Despite reporting a loss for the year, NatWest Group delivered a resilient underlying performance in a challenging operating environment. The bank continued to grow in key areas such as mortgages and commercial lending and our balance sheet remains strong, with one of the highest capital ratios amongst our UK and European peers. We have today announced our intention to pay a final dividend whilst reaffirming our commitment to regular capital returns for shareholders in the future.
We made strong progress in executing the strategy we set out in February 2020 as we build a relationship bank for a digital world; a bank that will meet the rapidly evolving needs of our customers at different stages of their lives through an ever increasing focus on digital and transformation. In turn, this will drive sustainable, long-term returns to our shareholders.
We cannot be certain of the long-term impact of the pandemic. But we can be certain that our bank will continue to support those who need it most as we build back better. By championing potential and helping people, families and businesses to rebuild and thrive, we will succeed together.”
Financial performance in a challenging environment
Full year 2020 operating loss of £351 million and an attributable loss of £753 million. Q4 2020 operating profit before tax of £64 million and an attributable loss of £109 million.
Full year 2020 net impairment losses of £3,242 million, or 88 basis points of gross customer loans, resulted in an expected credit loss (ECL) coverage ratio of 1.66%.
In comparison to 2019, income across the retail and commercial businesses, excluding notable items, decreased by 10.0% as the lower yield curve, subdued business activity and lower consumer spending were partially offset by strong balance growth.
2020 Bank net interest margin (NIM) of 1.71% decreased by 28 basis points compared with 2019. Q4 2020 Bank NIM of 1.66% increased by 1 basis point in comparison to Q3 2020 as lower average central liquidity and improved asset margins more than offset reduced structural hedge income as a result of lower swap rates.
A cost reduction of £277 million was achieved during 2020, ahead of our £250 million target for the year.
Hear more from CEO Alison Rose in this short film about our results, our purpose led strategy and creating long-term sustainable returns.
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