Lloyds bank targets wealth push and office cuts as profits fall

Britain’s biggest domestic lender resumes dividends as results beat projections

Lloyds Bank: set to cut office space by a fifth within three years as it looks to capitalise on remote working habits triggered by the pandemic. Photograph: Andy Rain

Lloyds Bank: set to cut office space by a fifth within three years as it looks to capitalise on remote working habits triggered by the pandemic. Photograph: Andy Rain

 

Lloyds Banking Group’s outgoing chief executive. António Horta-Osório, set out fresh targets to expand the lender’s insurance and wealth business and further cut costs, as the bank resumed a dividend despite a sharp fall in profits for 2020.

Britain’s biggest domestic lender reported pretax profits of £1.2 billion (€1.4 billion), well down on £4.4 billion the previous year, after pandemic lockdowns shrank household spending and drove up provisions for bad loans.

But it still beat the average of analyst forecasts of £905 million.

Mr Horta-Osório, who is leaving Lloyds after a decade running the bank to stand for election as chairman of Credit Suisse in April, said the bank would increase funds from insurance and wealth customers by £25 billion by 2023.

Remote working embraced

Lloyds will also cut office space by a fifth within three years, the second British lender to unveil such plans this week after HSBC announced a 40 per cent cut to its footprint as banks look to capitalise on remote working habits brought on by the pandemic.

Lloyds said its overall costs would be trimmed below £7.5 billion by the end of this year. HSBC executive Charlie Nunn is set to replace Mr Horta-Osório, and will start in August, the bank said.

Similar to rivals HSBC, NatWest and Barclays, Lloyds’ profits were dented by a dip in customer spending and wafer-thin central bank interest rates.

Pandemic finances

Lloyds set aside £4.2 billion to cover loans expected to sour, which was less than the £4.5 billion to £5.5 billion range previously given.

The bank said it would pay a 0.57 pence dividend per share, the maximum allowed by the Bank of England and above a forecast of 0.53 pence. Like other banks, Lloyds was forced by the Bank of England to suspend payouts last year to shore up its finances in the pandemic.

The bank’s core capital ratio, a key measure of financial resilience, increased to 16.2 per cent compared to 15.2 per cent in September.

Mr Horta-Osório’s pay package for 2020 fell to £3.4 million after he and other executives waived bonuses for the year due to the pandemic. He was paid £4.7 million the previous year. – Reuters