On March 27 2020, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (stock code: SH: 601398; HK: 1398) made public its operational performance in 2019. As shown in its annual report, ICBC achieved good results in 2019, securing high-quality development with steady progress.
Achieving breakthroughs in quantity. The total assets of ICBC exceeded RMB30 trillion and customer deposits rose by RMB1.57 trillion, a huge step ahead of its peers. ICBC registered net profits of RMB313.4 billion, a year-on-year growth of 4.9%, and pre-provision operating profits of RMB570.7 billion, a year-on-year growth of 6.9%. Bringing the quality to a superior level. NPL ratio decreased by 0.09 percentage point(s) to 1.43% over the end of last year, provision coverage ratio grew by 23.56 percentage point(s) to 199.32%, and capital adequacy ratio increased by 1.38 percentage point(s) to 16.77%. Cost-to-income ratio ranks one of the top performers among peers. Earning a good reputation. ICBC has been granted the 1st place among the Top 500 Banking Brands for four consecutive years and among the Top 1000 World Banks for seven years in a row. According to the resolutions of the Board of Directors, ICBC’s estimated cash dividends in 2019 reached RMB93.664 billion, with RMB2.628 of pre-tax dividends for every 10 shares.
I. Taking initiative to meet the requirements of the real economy and enhancing service efficiency on all fronts
First, pushing forward integrated service of investment and financing in a coordinated way. In compliance with the actual requirements of the real economy, ICBC reasonably stepped up its efforts in investment and financing service, and leveraged loan, bond, equity, agency, leasing and investment adviser services to serve the real economy in all respects. In 2019, ICBC hiked loans by RMB1.34 trillion over the end of last year, an increase of 8.7%, among which domestic RMB loans grew by RMB1.33 trillion, representing an increase of 9.8%. Bond investments rose by RMB813.8 billion, up 13.5%, wherein government bonds increased by RMB726.3 billion, up 18%. Domestic bonds underwritten by ICBC were worth RMB1.52 trillion, ranking the first in the market.
Second, keeping improving financial services to small and micro and private enterprises. ICBC fully optimized inclusive financial services, completed online and offline integration service system, sped up product innovation with FinTech, and rendered its services more extensive and convenient. At the end of 2019, inclusive loans to small and micro enterprises (SME) rose by RMB161.4 billion, 52% higher, with 153,000 more new customers; the interest rate of accumulated loans averaged 4.52%, reducing the comprehensive financing cost of SMEs by at least 1 percentage point(s). ICBC improved the three systems to guarantee special fund scale, credit authorization and service team for private enterprises. ICBC increased loans to private enterprises by RMB175.4 billion, up 10%, and set up ICBC New Driving Force Industry Fund to support strategic emerging industries and promote the development of sci-tech innovation enterprises. ICBC carried out poverty alleviation via industry, education, health care and consumption. ICBC registered financial targeted poverty alleviation loans of RMB170.4 billion. Its poverty alleviation project of Mongolian gazelle breeding in Nanjiang County, Sichuan Province was selected as the best case of poverty alleviation worldwide.
Third, inputting financial resources in a more targeted and accurate way. ICBC proactively followed regional development strategies for Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, Yangtze River Economic Zone, Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, Xiong’an New Area and the Belt and Road Initiative, and gave priority to the fund demands of major projects. Specifically, loans to transportation, warehousing and post service increased by RMB237.5 billion, up 12.5%; loans to water conservancy, environment protection and public facility grew by RMB140.3 billion, 18.2% higher. ICBC also gave support for the high-quality development of manufacturing. Loans to manufacturing before the disposal of NPLs increased by about RMB120 billion, and the balance stood at RMB1.45 trillion, retaining the first place in the industry; the proportion of outstanding mid- and long-term loans and credit loans to manufacturing rose to 33% and 37% respectively.
II. Deepening reform and innovation, and taking new steps in business transformation
First, giving the strategy of building the “No.1 Personal Bank” a good start. By creating a more intelligent business mode of personal banking, ICBC further strengthened its service capabilities. ICBC recorded a net growth of 43.29 million in the number of personal customers, the strongest figure in recent years. Thanks to its solid customer base and continuous service innovation, personal customer deposits increased by RMB1.04 trillion, up 11%, topping the market in terms of both the time point and daily average growth, boosting the balance of personal customer deposits to over RMB10 trillion. ICBC upgraded the mobile banking service in every respect and recorded 361 million ICBC Mobile customers. ICBC Mobile remained a bellwether on customer size, customer loyalty and activeness. Internet financial transaction amounted to RMB633 trillion, with its proportion rising 0.4 percentage point(s) to 98.1%.
Second, making new breakthroughs in FinTech innovation. The Intelligent Banking Ecosystem (ECOS 1.0) was released. ICBC made great efforts to promote deep integration of technology and finance in such fields as ecology, scenario, architecture, technology and system, thus ushering in a new chapter in the building of intelligent banking. Specifically, ICBC made more than 1000 financial services available to its partners through the API open platform and ICBC Finance Cloud, serving hundreds of millions of users. ICBC took the lead in setting up ICBC Technology in Xiong’an New Area, in an effort to speed up the formation of the market-oriented mechanism and enhance the ability to serve economic and social development. ICBC also established the FinTech Research Institute and labs on 5G and blockchain technology, exploring an R&D mode integrating production, learning, research and application.
Third, constantly upgrading the income structure. While continuing to cut burden for customers, ICBC relied on customer expansion, business innovation and improvement of income structure, realizing net fee and commission income of RMB155.6 billion, a year-on-year increase of 7.1%. Specifically, guarantee and commitment business income increased by 22.3%, settlement, clearing business and cash management income rose by 17.4%, and bank card business income gained by 7.6%. ICBC Wealth Management was successfully established, and mega asset management business underwent smooth and orderly transformation. The total net value of assets under ICBC’s custody reported at RMB16.5 trillion, continuing to lead the market.
Fourth, further improving the international service layout. In 2019, ICBC (Austria) and ICBC Greece Representative Office opened, bringing the number of ICBC overseas institutions to 428 in 48 countries and regions. With the strategic investment in the Standard Bank of South Africa, ICBC’s service network indirectly reached 20 African countries. ICBC strengthened financial services for “Going Global” and the Belt and Road Initiative, covering 21 countries and regions along the Belt and Road with 129 overseas branches.
III. Addressing both symptoms and root cause, making new progress in preventing and controlling financial risks
First, constantly improving asset quality. The asset quality was improved quarter by quarter by doing a good job in keeping the three gates of access control, management and control over the existing assets and disposal of non-performing assets. The NPL ratio fell for 12 consecutive quarters, and the re-lending of existing loans exceeded RMB2 trillion, and the funds collected were further relocated to high-quality industries, key areas and high-quality customers. Nearly RMB190 billion of NPLs were recovered and disposed of through various methods.
Second, continuously enhancing enterprise risk management. Targeting at cross-market, cross-region and other cross risks, the Group’s cross risk monitoring platform and investment and financing risk monitoring platform were put in place to monitor risks in a unified and dynamic way. ICBC carried out the “Responsibility Reinforcement Year” activity for internal control and compliance, and deepened risk management in eight key areas, including credit and asset disposal. ICBC also reinforced risk management in its overseas institutions by consolidating the building of three major systems of risk management, anti-money laundering and compliance management, and applied the Credit Management Assurance System (CMAS) in all overseas institutions, further enhancing the IT-based overseas risk management.
IV. Optimizing the governance system, continuing to improve corporate governance and team-building
In 2019, ICBC continued to upgrade the structure of its Board of Directors, in a bid to further improve its strategic decision-making and supervision mechanisms.
ICBC thoroughly implemented the strategy of developing and strengthening ICBC through talents. It handled concrete matters for employees at the grassroot branches in a down-to-earth manner, left no stone unturned when it came to burden reduction and empowerment at the grassroot level, and motivated employees to work and innovate. ICBC trained young cadres and built the key talent pool. Based on these two drivers, it brought together talents, efforts and strengths, and cultivated talents and culture for a sustainable and healthy development.