Royal Commission hits Westpac cash earnings

Westpac reported a flat net profit of $8 billion with increased remediation provisions and legal costs weighing on the group's cash earnings.

The group recorded a 1% increase in net profit year-on-year to $8.095 billion for the 12 months to September 2018. Cash earnings for the full year were $8.065 billion.

In total, 3.5% of the group's cash earnings were consumed by ongoing legal and remediation costs off the back of the Royal Commission.

A total of $281 million was paid out in remediation - an increase of $163 million year-on-year. Much of this was as a result of issues within BT Financial Group ($141 million) and the bank's consumer division ($110 million), the full year results show.

With the Royal Commission yet to wrap up, Westpac chief executive Brian Hartzer flagged the potential for greater provisions being required.

"We're committed to running our business in a way that meets standards from customers and the community and we'll continue to look to improve things," Hartzer said.

"I'd like to say we're largely through it but it is possible there may be other issues."

BTFG achieved cash earnings of $786 million, an increase of $4 million year-on-year, and reflective of an increase in funds; solid growth in corporate super for life insurance and fewer general insurance claims.

The result was partly offset by margin compression from price reductions and lower revenue from its financial advice business, BTFG said.

Meanwhile, BT Panorama continued to grow with the number of registered investors doubling to more than 23,000 on the prior corresponding period. Further, funds under administration on the platform increased 85% to $12.4 billion over the 12 month period.

The group described its business growth as sound, with loan growth up 4%, average funds also rising 4% and life insurance premiums 20% higher.

"While we have more work to do, we are dealing decisively with known issues. We have lifted our productivity target for next year to $400 million as we continue to simplify our products, digitise our business and modernise our platforms," Hartzer said.

"We are committed to supporting our customers over the long-term, and believe our service-led strategy remains the best way to create value for our shareholders."

Read more: WestpacRoyal CommissionBTFGBrian HartzerBT Financial GroupBT Panorama
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