NatWest Group plc (LON:NWG) has announced its 2022 NatWest Group performance summary.
Chief Executive, Alison Rose, commented:
“NatWest Group delivered a strong performance in 2022, with pre-tax profit up more than a third to £5.1 billion. We made considerable progress against our strategic goals, maintained a well-balanced loan book and distributed significant capital to our shareholders, including the UK Government.
Despite not yet seeing significant signs of financial distress among our customers, we are acutely aware that many people and businesses are struggling right now and that many more are worried about what the future holds. Our robust balance sheet, responsible lending and continued capital generation allow us to proactively support those who need it, whilst helping others to get ahead of the challenges to come.
As well as supporting our customers, this financial strength also allows us to continue investing in our business to meet the changing needs of our customers. By building long term relevance, trust and value through our purpose-led strategy, we will deliver sustainable returns and, ultimately, help to drive economic growth across the UK.”
Robust balance sheet with strong capital and liquidity levels
– Net lending increased by £7.3 billion to £366.3 billion during 2022 primarily reflecting £14.4 billion of growth in Retail Banking mortgages, with gross new mortgage lending of £41.4 billion, and a £5.7 billion increase in Commercial & Institutional, partially offset by a £14.6 billion reduction in Central items & other, which included a £6.4 billion decrease as we continued our exit from the Republic of Ireland.
– Customer deposits decreased by £29.5 billion during 2022 to £450.3 billion, principally reflecting a £14.2 billion reduction in Commercial & Institutional due to an overall market liquidity contraction in the second half of the year and reductions in Corporate and Institutions, particularly non-operational accounts in Financial Institutions and professional services with relatively low margin and funding value, and a £12.2 billion reduction associated with our withdrawal from the Republic of Ireland.
– The liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) of 145%, representing £52.0 billion headroom above 100% minimum requirement, decreased by 27 percentage points compared with 2021. Total wholesale funding decreased by £2.3 billion in the year to £74.4 billion.
– The CET1 ratio of 14.2% was 170 basis points lower than the position on 1 January 2022 principally reflecting distributions and linked pension accruals of c.310 basis points partially offset by the attributable profit, c.190 basis points.
– RWAs of £176.1 billion were £0.2 billion lower than 1 January 2022 as lending growth and model changes were offset by a £5.7 billion reduction in the Republic of Ireland.
|(1)||Go-forward group excludes Ulster Bank RoI and discontinued operations.|
2022 NatWest Group performance summary continued
Our purpose in action
We champion potential, helping people, families, and businesses to thrive. By working to benefit our customers, colleagues, and communities, we will deliver long-term value and drive sustainable returns to our shareholders. Some key achievements in 2022 include:
People and families
– We carried out c.0.7 million financial health checks in 2022 and launched our credit score feature in our mobile app to help customers understand their credit score.
– Together with footballer and campaigner, Marcus Rashford MBE, and the National Youth Agency we launched NatWest Thrive, which aims to help young people build their confidence with money.
– MoneySense has helped over 1.1 million young people learn about money and our CareerSense programme reached over 16,000 young people in 2022.
– In Retail Banking, we have completed £2.9 billion of Green Mortgages(1), which incentivise customers purchasing, porting or re-mortgaging a property with an EPC rating of A or B, since they were launched in Q4 2020, including £826 million in Q4 2022.
– We provided £24.5 billion of climate and sustainable funding and financing during 2022, bringing the cumulative contribution to £32.6 billion against our target to provide £100 billion between 1 July 2021 and the end of 2025.
– We announced a £1.25 billion lending package for the UK farming community and our c.40,000 agriculture customers within it, building on an earlier set of measures, such as capital repayment holidays and increased overdraft limits.
– To support SME customers, Business Current Accounts remain available without a minimum charge, and we froze the standard published tariffs on these accounts for 12 months. We also offered free card machine hire on our payment service, Tyl, for new customers.
– As part of our support for female entrepreneurs, we launched the 100 Female Entrepreneurs to Watch with The Telegraph to highlight some of the UK’s most exciting female-led businesses. We also collaborated with social technology company Meta to offer training and support to female business owners.
– We lowered the application threshold for our universal Green Loan(2) offering for SMEs from £50,000 to £25,001, helping more businesses transition to net zero.
– We launched the NatWest Carbon Planner in Q3 2022, a free-to-use digital platform designed to help UK businesses identify potential cost and carbon savings.
– Building on our campaign to support priority future skills, our colleagues can now take two dedicated learning-for-the-future days each year to support their development.
– We announced our new partner leave policy(3), which supports all eligible colleagues with significantly more time away from work to help their partner look after their new child, whether the child has arrived through birth, adoption or surrogacy.
– We took targeted action to provide long-term support through a permanent increase in base pay for our lowest-paid colleagues, globally. c.22,000 colleagues received a pay rise, effective from 1 September 2022, and in the UK, this resulted in a 4% salary rise for those earning less than £32,000.
– We retained our place in Bloomberg’s Gender Equality Index and were listed as one of The Times Top 50 Employers for Women 2022.
– During 2022 we developed the initial iteration of our Climate transition plan, which is published alongside our 2022 annual results.
– During 2022, NatWest Group became the first UK bank, and one of the largest banks globally to date, to have science-based targets validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).
– Our colleagues and customers donated over £12 million (including £2.7 million from NatWest Group) in 2022 to three appeals launched by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) for the humanitarian relief efforts in Afghanistan, Ukraine and Pakistan.
– With our Sustainable Homes and Buildings Coalition partners, British Gas and Worcester Bosch, we published the Home is Where the Heat is – Progress Report, which documents the first phases of our greener homes retrofit project.
|(1)||Green Mortgages are available to all intermediaries for all residential and Buy to Let properties with an energy performance rating of A or B and specific new build developer properties. Available for Purchase, Porting and Re-mortgage applications.|
|(2)||Green Loans with no arrangement fee are open to applications from eligible UK businesses with an annual turnover of less than £25 million (other than for eligible UK Real Estate Finance businesses for whom alternative eligibility criteria may apply) who are seeking to take out a loan to acquire assets that fall within the eligible list developed by the bank and subject to review and change on an ongoing basis. Eligibility does not imply compliance with any green or similar taxonomy or standard.|
|(3)||Our partner leave policies will replace existing paternity leave policies from 1 January 2023 across our operations in the UK, Offshore, Republic of Ireland, US, Poland and India.|
Group Chief Executive’s review
In 2022, as the country recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, we witnessed economic conditions not seen in generations. The highest inflation rate in decades, rising interest rates, a steep increase in energy costs and supply chain disruption had a huge impact on people’s lives. This meant that being guided by our purpose to support our stakeholders and drive long-term sustainable value was as important as ever.
In light of these challenging economic circumstances, we focused on putting in place proactive support to help people, families and businesses to manage and to help alleviate the financial pressures being felt by those who were most vulnerable. The strength of our balance sheet has allowed us to stand alongside our customers and help them to navigate this heightened uncertainty, as well as delivering a strong financial performance for NatWest Group and value for shareholders.
Support for the cost of living
We responded quickly and meaningfully, proactively contacting our customers to offer support and information on the cost of living. In addition, we carried out c.0.7 million financial health checks in 2022 and launched our credit score feature in our mobile app to help customers understand their credit score. Our online cost of living hub was also established to share resources and tools, informing customers of the support that is available to them, as well as support through third parties. These measures were in addition to £4 million in donations to provide grants and support, delivered in collaboration with organisations including Citizens Advice, The Trussell Trust, Step Change and PayPlan.
As one of the leading banking partners of UK business, we have taken a range of actions on charges, waiving fees on some products where appropriate, including freezing standard published tariffs on Business Current Accounts for 12 months to help SMEs, and offering free card machine hire for new customers on our payment service Tyl.
For our commercial customers, we were able to deliver tailored support to the most impacted sectors, including a £1.25 billion lending package for our c.40,000 agriculture customers, as well as providing c.51,700 financial health checks for our business customers.
Supporting our colleagues during this period has continued to be a key focus. In addition to the pay review in April 2022, and following consultation with our recognised employee representatives in September 2022, we put in place targeted action to provide long-term support for colleagues through a permanent increase in base pay for our lowest-paid colleagues, globally. This brought total investments in pay of around £115 million per annum in 2022, an increase of 85% on 2021.
We agreed further measures for 2023 which include a one-off £1,000 cost of living cash payment for c.42,000 colleagues in the UK, Republic of Ireland and Channel Islands, and c.60,000 people globally. The 2023 pay proposal also includes a minimum increase of £2,000 for almost all of the colleagues covered by it. Taken together, this will mean that c.80% of lower-paid colleagues covered by our negotiated pay approach will receive an increase, plus a cash payment, equivalent to 10% or more of their fixed pay. In the UK, our rates of pay continue to exceed the ‘Living Wage Foundation’ benchmarks and, for our major hubs outside the UK, we continue to pay above the minimum and living wage rates in the Republic of Ireland as well as exceeding the minimum wage benchmarks in India and Poland.
Delivering on our strategy
Of course, these actions – driven by our purpose – are not just the right thing to do, but they are key to building a long-term, profitable organisation and are underpinned by the strong foundations of our strategy. Our operating profit for 2022 of £5.1 billion increased from £3.8 billion the year before. Pleasingly, this was driven by strong performance across all business segments and enabled from a position of responsible and sustainable lending. We also continued to make progress against our financial targets. Other operating expenses, for the Go-forward group(1), were £201 million, or 2.9% lower than 2021, in line with our cost reduction target of around 3%(2), and we retain a CET1 ratio of 14.2%, in line with our target.
Against an uncertain economic outlook, the strength of our balance sheet and the quality of our loan and deposit base allow us to continue lending responsibly while also helping our customers to navigate the challenges they are facing. Net lending balances increased by £7.3 billion, 2.0%, with growth balanced across the bank. Mortgage growth continued and wholesale lending was strong across the whole book. Customer deposits did decrease by £29.5 billion, or 6.1%. However, this principally reflected a reduction in our Commercial & Institutional segment, and a £12.2 billion reduction due to our withdrawal from the Republic of Ireland.
This strong capital position and continued capital generation means that we are well placed to invest for growth, to provide the support our customers need as the economy recovers and to drive sustainable returns to shareholders, with £5.1 billion shareholder distributions paid and proposed for 2022 through dividends and buybacks. Against this backdrop, we also returned to majority private ownership during 2022 with the UK Government’s stake falling below 50%, which was a symbolic milestone for our bank.
It is from this basis of progress and profitability that we are amplifying our strategy, accelerating what we’re doing but also being mindful of new opportunities and challenges we and our customers face. We aim to create ever closer and deeper relationships with our customers at every stage of their lives – support that starts earlier, reflects their values and meets their changing needs. It is a simple principle: if our customers thrive, so will we.
And our purpose, to champion potential, helping people, families and businesses to thrive, which has guided us through the last few years, is here to stay. Through our three areas of focus – climate, enterprise, and learning – we believe we can make a meaningful contribution to our customers and society and create long-term value for all our stakeholders. This allows us to build on our track record of delivery, to move forward with confidence and pace and to compete effectively in a rapidly changing external market. The result will be a more sustainable business with more diverse income streams, able to support our customers and generate sustainable growth.
Group Chief Executive’s review continued
New and emerging social, commercial and economic trends are shaping our customers’ financial lives and there are important opportunities to transform our relevance and value to customers, building on their trust. We will do this by delivering personalised solutions throughout customers’ lifecycles; embedding our services in our customers’ digital lives; and supporting customers’ sustainability transitions.
Our values in action
Our values are at the heart of how we deliver our purpose-led strategy. In 2021, we engaged with colleagues, customers and communities to re-envision a modernised set of values that fully align with our strategic priorities. These collaborative and evolved values of being inclusive, curious, robust, sustainable and ambitious were launched in 2022 and now form an integral part of our identity.
Indeed, these values are evident in the contributions we have been making to communities and wider society during 2022. With the tragic events from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine dominating our thoughts for most of the year, it has been incredibly humbling to witness the collective response for those affected. Donations from NatWest Group colleagues and customers to the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal exceeded £10 million. In addition, NatWest Group pledged £100,000 to support 500 Ukrainian students to continue their studies at Polish universities and polytechnics. We also made Gogarburn House, in the grounds of our head office in Edinburgh, available to the Scottish Government and Edinburgh City Council as a welcome centre for people displaced from Ukraine and offered assistance to refugees wishing to open bank accounts. Meanwhile, our colleagues provided relief aid at the Polish-Ukrainian border and opened their homes to Ukrainian families.
We continue to invest in the future of not just our colleagues, but future generations. We have been delighted to collaborate with footballer and campaigner Marcus Rashford MBE and the National Youth Agency (NYA) to provide NatWest Thrive, a unique programme for young people to develop their self-belief as well as their money confidence. Early feedback from the pilot scheme was incredibly encouraging, delivering a 63% uplift in participants’ confidence about their futures.
NatWest Thrive has since been rolled out to 15 clubs, reaching over 800 young people across the UK with plans to scale much further. NatWest Group will also transfer £3 million of its apprenticeship levy to the NYA to support the training of 200 youth workers.
Learning is a key focus area for the business. And whether this is through the ongoing successes of our MoneySense and CareerSense schemes helping young people with financial advice and employability, our Talent Academy, or our social mobility apprenticeship programmes, we have ensured that we continue to help break down the barriers for people to succeed and thrive.
To help build financial capability early on, we also launched NatWest Rooster Money. The pocket money product helps children develop money confidence and positive habits around saving and spending, nurturing financial resilience in the next generation. We have built a smooth connection to Rooster Money via the main mobile app and there have been c.89,000 Rooster Money card openings in 2022.
Elsewhere, in collaboration with Meta, we launched a package of support for female entrepreneurs through the #SheMeansBusiness programme, which selected 50 of the most promising female entrepreneurs from c.3,600 applicants to form a dedicated support community, with sessions delivered by our Enterprise Delivery Team over a six-month period. And to shine a light on women running thriving businesses in the face of current economic challenges, we were delighted to launch with The Telegraph, the ‘100 Female Entrepreneurs to Watch’ list. Alongside Aston University, we also published the report ‘Time to change: A blueprint for advancing the UK’s ethnic minority businesses’, which sets out recommendations for policymakers, companies and entrepreneurs to advance the growth potential of ethnic minority businesses.
I was also immensely proud of the announcement of our new partner leave policy(3), which supports all eligible colleagues with significantly more time away from work to help their partner look after their new child, whether the child has arrived through birth, adoption or surrogacy.
The net-zero opportunity
Through funding, refinancing and supporting people, families and businesses to transition to net zero, we want to help create a sustainable future for our customers, communities and our planet. It is why addressing the climate challenge – one of the biggest issues of our time – is a key strategic priority for the bank. It sits at the heart of our purpose, because we know that tackling climate change is the right thing to do both societally and commercially.
We have made significant progress in turning our climate ambition into action since setting out our climate strategy in 2020. As a founding member of the Net Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA) and the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), and as a principal partner of COP26, in 2021 NatWest Group established itself as one of the leading voices for finance on tackling climate change.
During 2022, I was delighted to see that our momentum continued. Our global approach was again in evidence at COP27, where we worked alongside the UK Government to support the UK Pavilion, co-hosting several high-profile events with customers and key stakeholders such as the Sustainable Markets Initiative. Closer to home, through our first climate resolution, the Board gave shareholders their ‘Say on Climate’, asking them to support our strategic direction on climate change at the AGM. 92.58% of votes cast were in favour of the resolution, indicating strong support for our climate strategy.
Group Chief Executive’s review continued
NatWest Group has also become the first UK bank, and one of the largest banks globally, to have science-based targets validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). These targets underpin the initial iteration of our Climate transition plan (published in our 2022 Climate-related Disclosures Report), which outlines the steps we aim to take to at least halve the climate impact of our financing activity by 2030, thereby contributing to the UK’s net-zero strategy, and to reach net zero by 2050 across our financed emissions, assets under management and operational value chain.
But we know that we can, and must, do more. We also want to provide the practical solutions to help our customers transition to net zero. By delivering initiatives such as our Greener Homes Retrofit pilot, launching our EPC rating tool in our digital mortgage hub and launching our new Carbon Planner for UK business, we are enabling our customers to identify potential cost and carbon savings.
Importantly, I believe these actions are not only good for the planet, but good for business too. With the right support, the UK’s SMEs could create up to 260,000 new jobs, produce around 40,000 new businesses and deliver an estimated £175 billion revenue opportunity for the UK economy by 2030(4). Of course, this is not something any individual organisation can do on its own. Support from policymakers as well as collaboration across the private sector will be vital for mobilising the finance necessary to fund the infrastructure of future green economies. Initiatives such as Carbonplace, where NatWest Group has joined forces with other financial institutions to create a global carbon credit transaction network, or the Sustainable Homes and Buildings Coalition, which NatWest Group launched with British Gas and Worcester Bosch to improve UK buildings’ energy efficiency, are great examples of how this cross-industry collaboration can have meaningful real-world impact.
We have now provided £32.6 billion of climate and sustainable funding and financing against our target to provide £100 billion between 1 July 2021 and the end of 2025, which includes £27.2 billion across Commercial & Institutional (C&I), as well as mortgage lending for EPC A and B homes totalling £5.1 billion in Retail Banking and £0.2 billion in Private Banking. And, delivered in collaboration with fintech firm Cogo our carbon-tracking tool for retail customers had 334,500 unique users in 2022, a clear indication of the demand that our customers have for understanding the carbon footprint of their daily spending.
2022 has shown us the importance of being a purpose-led bank. But it has also shown us what it takes to be purpose-led. Against a volatile economic backdrop, we continue to demonstrate the strength and resilience of our business, delivering a strong financial performance while supporting our customers and putting in place proactive support to help those who are most vulnerable.
To continue to do this, we are evolving our capabilities. Underpinned by the strong foundations of our strategy, we are investing in our technology and colleagues so we can serve our customers in new ways that make their lives easier. Our focus now is on the opportunities those relationships offer for growth: for our customers, for our economy and, as a result, for the bank.
Sustainable growth will come from building closer relationships that better serve our customers at every stage of their lives. These relationships will be based on insight, understanding, and shared goals, powered by data-driven innovation. This will enable us to make a real difference to our customers’ lives by providing the right advice, products and support to unlock potential. We will also strengthen our relationships by working with partners to ensure we deliver the services and products customers expect, when they want them, tailored to fit their lives.
By getting closer to our customers, by offering them an ever-better service, day in, day out, we create sustainable growth for the bank because those customers, over a lifetime, will recommend us to others and use us in more parts of their lives.
We’ve always known relationships matter, and now we are doing more than ever before to harness them. By providing the support and security our customers, colleagues, economy and society need, together we can help build a more sustainable future for people, families, businesses and the planet.
Alison Rose DBE
Group Chief Executive Officer