Revenue for the quarter was RM2.91bil, 9.6% lower than RM3.21bil in the comparative quarter. Earnings per share rose to 16.22 sen versus 14.24 sen a year earlier.
"The Group delivered commendable results for the first quarter of the year despite operating in a challenging business environment.
"And, we expect our performance in FY2021 to be better than FY2020 despite the ongoing headwind," said RHB group managing director Datuk Khairussaleh Ramli in a statement accompanying the results.
He added that RHB has reviewed changes to customer behaviour and the rapid evolution in the way the needs of customers are served during the pandemic.
"This includes digitalisation of customer journeys, transforming credit risk management, modernising our IT infrastructure and ensuring that our workforce is future ready,” he said.
For the quarter, RHB said net fund based income rose 12.6% year-on-year (y-o-y) to RM1.42bil due to proactive funding cost management, which dropped 36.4% y-o-y on the back of 25.6% current account savings account (CASA) growth.
Net interest margin for the quarter was 2.17% versus 2.11% in the year-ago quarter.
Non-fund based income rose 15.5% to RM543.6mil, due mainly to higher capital market, brokerage, wealth management and commercial banking income.
The bank said this was partially offset by lower net trading and investment income.
For the quarter, operating expenses increased 8.3% y-o-y to RM885.4mil.
Cost-to-income ratio narrowed to 46% from 47.3% a year ago due to positive JAWS.
Practising prudence, the group set aside additional provisions to cater for potential adverse impact to asset quality, resulting in expected credit losses (ECL) rising 15.4% y-o-y to RM173.9mil.
The annualised credit charge ratio stood at 0.39% versus 0.34% in the same quarter last year.
On the balance sheet, total assets increased 3.5% to RM280.5bil as at end-March.
Net assets per share was RM6.65 with shareholders' equity at RM26.7bil.
The group's common equity Tier-1 and total capital ratio stood at 15.6% and 17.7% respectively.
Gross loans and financing rose 6.8% y-o-y to RM188.2bil on growth in mortgage, auto finance, SIME and Singapore.
Domestic loans and financing grew 6% y-o-y and domestic loans market share stood at 9% as at end-March.
Gross impaired loans stood at RM3.1bil with a gross impaired loans ratio of 1.66% compared with RM3.5bil and 2% respectively a at end-March.
Loan loss coverage ratio excluding regulatory reserves remained storng at 119.5% as at end-March.
Customer deposits increased 12.4% y-o-y to RM218 bil, predominantly attributed to CASA and fixed deposits growth of 25.6% and 9.0% respectively.
CASA composition stood at 30.6% as at 31 March 2021.
Liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) remained healthy at 153.9%.