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aws试用账号(www.2km.me)_Malaysian banks continue to show resilience in 2021 despite economic headwinds

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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian banks continued to display resilience in 2021 and performed better than in the previous year despite persistent economic headwinds with prolonged movement restrictions, moratoriums and repayment assistance, thanks to the buffers and structural strength built over the years.

The year obviously kicked off on a high note with Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) growth target set at 6-7.5 per cent, but it was later revised down to 3-4 per cent amid the re-imposition of COVID-19 containment measures.

"Although the banks would be impacted due to the extended repayment assistance that would affect credit costs and also in terms of profit margins due to a modification cost, structurally the Malaysian banking system has remained strong enough to withstand distress,” said Moody’s Investors Service.

"They are well capitalised and liquid enough to withstand unexpected losses that could materialise,” it said, adding that Malaysian banks had remained profitable this year with some having performed better compared to 2020.

Kenanga Research senior equity analyst Clement Chua Min Tze said banks managed to report stronger income from more optimised cost of funds (CoF) arising from BNM’s notion to keep record low Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) of 1.75 per cent consistent during this period.

Challenges

MIDF Research said low OPR had depressed the net interest income (NII), though it was slightly offset by lowered COF.

The sector also continued to see higher impairment ratios, especially in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and retail consumer as loan assistance programmes prompted banks to stock up on provisions.

"To mitigate the challenges faced in 2021, the banks had exercised more cost cutting and digitalisation process.

"They had also put a tighter loan-vetting process, expanding current accounts saving accounts (CASA) base and focusing more on stable fee income via forays into wealth management and premier banking as well as de-risking exercises and balance sheet rebuilding,” MIDF noted.

Chua highlighted that further economic restrictions could pose a threat to loan growth, especially for the already at-risk sectors such as tourism and aviation, and struggling businesses will cascade to lower private income and spending, further hampering economic reinvigoration.

"That said, market sentiment was weighed down by the possibilities of heavy impairments which impacted the near-term sustainability of banking stocks. On a long-term basis, we do not believe the events over the last two years could meaningfully undermine the banking business model,” he said.

He said all the three largest banks in Malaysia which include Maybank, CIMB and Public Bank faced similar headwinds due to the relative comparability in market share as compared to their peers, but notably, Public Bank was less affected due to it having a stronger focus on local accounts.

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