Zürcher Kantonalbank grew its net profit to CHF 782 million in the financial year 2017, an increase of 3% compared to the previous year. This was driven by higher commission and fee income, as well as by good cost discipline. The dividend distributed to the canton and municipalities will increase by just over 3% to a total of CHF 363 million.
Martin Scholl, Chief Executive Officer, commented on the 2017 result as follows: “Zürcher Kantonalbank once again demonstrated its operational strength last year and delivered a very good result. I see this renewed growth in profit as confirmation that we are on the right path with our diversified business model.”
Income reaches a new record level
In the financial year 2017, operating income rose by 1% to CHF 2,336 million compared to the previous year. This represents another slight increase compared to the all-time high reached in 2016. The commission and fee business delivered a particularly pleasing performance as it benefited once again from higher income in the securities and investment business as well as from the other service business. In interest operations,
the trend was slightly positive, while trading income declined - especially in the second half of the year - due to low levels of volatility and slowing market momentum.
Net interest income totalled CHF 1,202 million in the financial year 2017, corresponding to an increase of just over 1%. That includes a charge for changes in allowances for defaults as well as losses from interest operations totalling CHF 9 million (previous year: CHF 12 million). In 2017, the mortgage business - the main driver of interest operations - grew somewhat more slowly than the market as a whole, reflecting the systematic execution of Zürcher Kantonalbank’s strategy to focus on the quality of its lending portfolio. Overall, mortgage loans rose by 2.3% to CHF 79.1 billion at the end of 2017.
Net commission and fee income improved by 6% to CHF 770 million. This increase was mainly attributable to growth in the securities and investment business and to the other service business.
Trading income declined by 12% to CHF 334 million compared to the previous year. This decrease reflects the significant slowdown in market momentum - especially in the second half of the year - as well as declining volatility and the associated narrowing of bid-ask spreads in trading.
Market risks in the trading book (Value-at-Risk with a 10-day holding period) averaged CHF 11 million and thus remained at the same low level as in 2016.
Cost/income ratio continues to improve
Operating expenses totalled CHF 1,434 million for the financial year 2017, corresponding to a decrease of 5%. Personnel expenses declined by 7% year on year to CHF 1,008 million, following a non-recurring ex-pense of CHF 70 million recognized in the financial year 2016 for provisions for pension benefit obligations. Excluding this one-off impact, personnel expenses would have been virtually unchanged year on year. Other operating expenses totalled CHF 426 million in the financial year 2017, corresponding to a reduction of al-most 2%. That includes expenses of CHF 23 million (previous year: CHF 22 million) for compensation for the state guarantee that was paid to the Canton of Zurich.
The charge for impairments on participations as well as the depreciation of tangible fixed assets and intan-gible assets decreased by 4% to CHF 120 million.
The cost/income ratio improved to 61.1% in 2017 from 61.7% in the previous year. Group operating profit totalled CHF 782 million for the financial year 2017, an increase of 3% compared to 2016.
Canton and municipalities participate in profit through higher dividends
Zürcher Kantonalbank will distribute a dividend totalling CHF 363 million to the canton and municipalities for the financial year 2017. This represents an increase of just over 3% compared to the previous year. Of this sum, a dividend of CHF 230 million (previous year: CHF 220 million) will be paid to the canton of Zurich and a dividend of CHF 115 million (previous year: CHF 110 million) will be paid to the political municipalities as profit participation.
The sum paid to the canton to cover the cost of capital is CHF 18 million, compared to CHF 21 million in the previous year. In addition, the canton will receive CHF 23 million to compensate it for the state guarantee.
Significant increase in customer assets due to good performance and strong inflow of new money
Customer assets grew to CHF 288.8 billion at the end of 2017 from CHF 264.8 billion at the end of 2016. In addition to the pleasing inflow of new money totalling CHF 6.3 billion, this significant increase mainly reflects a contribution of CHF 16.7 billion from positive market performance.
Further strengthening of extremely solid capital base
Zürcher Kantonalbank further strengthened its capital position at the end of 2017 and thus continues to significantly exceed regulatory requirements. Eligible capital totalled CHF 12,019 million at the end of 2017, compared to CHF 11,564 million at the end of 2016. The total capital ratio was 18.8% at the end of 2017, compared to 17.5% at the end of 2016, and the common equity tier 1 (CET1) ratio was 16.5%, compared to 15.6%. The significantly higher capital ratio not only reflects the retention of earnings and the launch of the Additional Tier 1 bond in the first half of the year but is also attributable to changes in the methodology used to calculate risk-weighted assets for credit risks. The leverage ratio was 6.8% at the end of 2017, compared to 6.7% in the previous year.
Systematic further development of sales channels
Zürcher Kantonalbank continued to systematically develop its sales channels in 2017, further expanding the self-service offering in eBanking and eBanking Mobile. In November 2017, the SME Finance Assistant function was added to eBanking for our corporate clients. As a result, they can now easily and rapidly gain an overview of incoming and outgoing payments and can also carry out simulations in the area of liquidity planning. Zürcher Kantonalbank was also one of the first Swiss banks to successfully introduce its TWINT app. This mobile payment solution will be continuously developed and the number of TWINT acceptance points will be increased.
Zürcher Kantonalbank reached a milestone with the launch of its new Investment World at the start of 2018. This means that every aspect of its investment advisory offering is now digitally supported and can also be displayed on a tablet. In addition, advisory consultations are now consistently carried out with a focus on the customer's portfolio, taking account of risk and return.
Zürcher Kantonalbank will continue to make significant investments in the further development of its sales channels in the future, thus ensuring the bank is ideally prepared to address the challenges of the future.
On the outlook, Martin Scholl stated: "We are currently seeing a global and synchronous upturn in the economy. At the same time, there is a high level of uncertainty due to various geopolitical risks. Against this backdrop, we currently expect to deliver a solid result for the financial year 2018."