NatWest posts surprise jump in profits but warns rest of year will be clouded by cost of living crisis
NatWest posted a surprise jump in profits but warned the rest of the year would be clouded by the cost of living crisis.
The bank’s profits in the first three months of this year came in at £1.2billion, up from £885m a year earlier, as it cashed in on higher interest rates. Chief executive Alison Rose said the bank had identified vulnerable customers and had referred 2,100 people to Citizens Advice in the past year.
The banking group serves about 19m customers across the UK and Ireland. Rose said: ‘Inflation is real, energy costs rising is real and we are definitely seeing that is going to impact the amount people have to spend.
A sign of the times: NatWest shares slipped 2.2 per cent, or 4.9p, to 218p as it warned inflation would hit consumers
‘We are focused on how we practically help people. The main concern I have is lots of people are super-worried about this and have huge anxiety about it so we are trying to be proactive.’
NatWest shares slipped 2.2 per cent, or 4.9p, to 218p as it warned inflation would hit consumers.
Rose also hinted at further branch closures, as customers shift to banking online. The bank said it would release £38m of cash held back during the pandemic, while rivals including HSBC, Lloyds and Barclays have had to set money aside to cope with a weakening economy.
Rose said: ‘We have no exposure to Russia or Ukraine. Some of those other banks do, so will have had to make provisions for operations and exposure there.’
NatWest was the last big UK bank to release first-quarter earnings this week. Profits at HSBC fell 30 per cent, while Lloyds’ fell 14 per cent. Barclays reported a 7 per cent rise in profits.
But there was trouble for Deutsche Bank. German authorities raided its Frankfurt HQ over suspected money laundering.
Deutsche said it reported the issue and was ‘co-operating’ with police and prosecutors.