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February 28, 2018updated 06 Mar 2018 2:38pm

United Trust Bank warns on decreasing margins for asset finance

By Brian Cantwell

United Trust Bank (UTB) chair Richard Murley has said increasing competition in leasing started to take its toll on profit margins in 2017.

Finance lease and hire purchase receivables were up to £88.87m in 2017 from £84.74m in 2016, but Murley said the leasing market was witnessing decreasing margins due to new entrants.

“The relatively benign credit environment has unsurprisingly continued to attract new entrants to our markets,” wrote Murley. “There are clear signs that this competition has affected margins and returns, especially in areas such as asset finance.”

UTB profits after tax were up to £21.2m after tax and impairments for the year ending 31st December 2017.

Charges for impairment losses were £1.1m (2016: £1.9m) equating to 0.15% of average loan balances (2016: 0.35%).

It said that it exceeded £1bn of assets for the first time.

“During the year we refined our policy and provisioning approach for the growing mortgage book, to reflect our experience of this book in its first few years of operation,” explained UTB.

Its other highlights included a return on average equity of 27%; lending to customers grew by 40% while customer deposits grew by 31% to reach £873m. Gross income increased by 20%.

United Trust Bank chief executive officer, Graham Davin (pictured), said: “United Trust Bank delivered another strong performance in 2017 and I am delighted to report an excellent set of results. Our significant growth in lending and deposits enabled us to exceed £1bn of total assets for the first time which marked an exciting milestone in the Bank’s evolution. The key measure of Return on Average Equity also remains class leading at 27%.

“The momentum we have gathered over the last few years has continued and the markets in which we operate support our products while customers welcome the level of service we provide. The sustained organic growth of the Bank is particularly pleasing, given it was achieved in a fluid trading environment.

“Although we expect the Bank to be largely insulated from the direct effects of Brexit, the next 12 months are bound to produce challenges and opportunities. I have every confidence that our talented and dedicated staff will meet both with enthusiasm and drive, and on behalf of the shareholders and directors, I would like to thank them for their vital contribution to the Bank’s success.”

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