KUALA LUMPUR: CIMB Group Holdings Bhd’s underlying business proved to be resilient in the financial year ended Dec 31, 2020 (FY20) despite the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The group said its aggressive cost reduction targets were exceeded, with a 5.5 per cent or RM524 million decrease in operating expenses, leading to an improved cost-to-income ratio (CIR) of 52.2 per cent, down 1.2 per cent year-on-year (YoY).
Topline resilience, cost discipline and proactive measures to protect asset quality enabled the group to strengthen its financial position and ensure it remains well-capitalised against shocks, leading to its highest ever common equity tier 1 (CET1) ratio of 13.3 per cent, it said in a statement following its Annual General Meeting and an Extraordinary General Meeting here today.
The group declared a proposed annual dividend of 4.81 sen per share for FY20 amounting to a total payout of RM477 million and a payout ratio of 40 per cent in line with its dividend policy.
Chairman Datuk Mohd Nasir Ahmad said backed by a sound institutional framework, the group remains resilient in terms of having a strong capital position and healthy liquidity ratio notwithstanding market volatility and disruptions brought about by the pandemic.
"Guided by our recalibrated strategy known as Forward23+, we are now focused on accelerating
growth in tandem with economic recovery,” he said.
Meanwhile, group chief executive officer Datuk Abdul Rahman Ahmad said with that underlying business proved resilient in FY20, the group is now building momentum in FY21 as the first full year under the Forward23+ Strategic Plan.
He said the group will continue to drive strategic core programmes, among others, capital optimisation, cost management and portfolio reshaping initiatives.
"We are also making focused investments in key segments that offer strong opportunities for profitable growth, such as wealth management, treasury and markets, transaction banking, and intra-ASEAN wholesale banking.
"We have started to make headway, and we are confident that we are on track to deliver on
our ambition to become the leading focused ASEAN bank,” he said.
For 2021, he said the group anticipates better performance across most segments and markets, with optimism fuelled by a vaccine-driven economic recovery, although the pace and extent of recovery remain both uncertain and uneven.
The group will continue to monitor asset quality and maintain a prudent approach to credit underwriting
to achieve the right balance between profitability and growth, he said.
"Digitalisation, both within the bank and for our customers, remains a key priority. We will continue to invest in and enhance our technology and digital platforms to increase productivity and improve customer experience, reflecting the accelerated shift towards digital banking over the past year.
"For FY21, stringent cost optimisation will remain a core focus to further improve productivity and efficiency,” Abdul Rahman said.
He added that the group will remain committed to supporting governments’ efforts to help business recovery and economic growth across the region, while continuing to provide financial assistance to customers who have been impacted by the pandemic. - Bernama