2017 was a year of a marked economic revival. GDP growth accelerated from 2.9% in 2016 to 4.5%, owing to a surprisingly high contribution from private consumption. On the other hand, although positive, the growth rate of private investment projects was still unsatisfactory.
Despite higher inflation y/y, inflation hovered around the inflation target of the Monetary Policy Council, and thus interest rates remained at an all-time low. These factors were reflected in the monetary aggregates. The environment of low interest rates slowed deposit growth. Both household and institutional clients sought alternative saving methods. Strong private consumption led to a sustained high growth rate in PLN retail housing loans and a higher growth in other retail loans. A modest recovery in private investment projects resulted in slight corporate lending growth.
2017 was a year of regulatory change. Some have already taken effect, while others will be effective in 2018. The public discussion about CHF-denominated housing loans continued for the third year. As at the beginning of 2018, the parliamentary committee is to recommence work on a bill of amendment to the Act on the support of mortgage loan borrowers in a difficult financial situation. The Act provides for the formation by banks of a new fund to finance the restructuring of FX housing loans. In 2017, the Act on mortgage loans and supervision over mortgage loan brokers and agents took effect. It lays down the terms of and procedure for conclusion of real estate related loan agreements. In November, the Monetary Policy Council resolved to lower as of March 2018 the mandatory reserve rate for funds acquired for at least two years from 0.5% to 0%. Further, 2018 is a year when the EU directives – MiFID 2 (concerning terms of financial product distribution) and PSD 2 (concerning payment services) – will be finally implemented.
The financial sector will be affected by changes to ownership as well. The sector consolidation has continued in 2017 and will undoubtedly continue in 2018.
Despite volatile economic and regulatory conditions, the ING Bank Śląski S.A. Group consistently delivered on its business strategy, aimed at increasing the scale of operations through the acquisition of new clients and offering convenient and state-of-the art solutions and products, designed to meet the expectations of clients in all segments. In 2017, as in the previous ten years the Group increased its lending and deposit portfolios considerably, while maintaining good quality of assets and sustaining sound capital and liquidity positions. The Bank Supervisory Board actively assisted the Management Board through close analysis of its actions, and also participated in the making of key decisions. The Supervisory Board monitored the market risk, liquidity and capital adequacy management areas with particular care. The Supervisory Board was also involved in the setting the priorities for the Group development. The Supervisory Board members were also members of the Audit Committee, Risk Committee and Remuneration and Nomination Committee.
As at the 2017 year end, the Group served 4.59 million clients, or 6% clients more than as at the end of 2016. In the retail segment, the number of clients rose by 6% to 4.53 million; in the corporate segment, by 14% to 55 thousand. As at 2017 year end, loan receivables from customers amounted to over PLN 87 billion, up by 12% from 2016. At the same time, the value of funds deposited by clients grew by 9% y/y and totalled nearly PLN 103 billion as at the year end. In consequence, the Group’s balance sheet total was PLN 126 billion, up by 7% from 2016.
The Group closed the year with a solid capital and liquidity base. The total capital ratio settled at a secure level of 16.7%. As lending grew faster than deposit taking, the LTD ratio reached 83.8% as at the yearend, or went up by 2.3 p.p. from the year earlier.
2017 also proved a record year for the ING Bank Śląski S.A. Group in terms of profitability. Net profit rose by 12% y/y to PLN 1,403 million. Return on equity also improved, arriving at 12.6% (11.7% in the prior year).
I am hopeful that the strategy of the ING Bank Śląski S.A. Group and prudent actions of the Management Board supported by the Supervisory Board will enable continuation of the growth of the Group.