The profit for the country’s biggest bank has fallen as its expenses grew more than income against a background of controversy.

ANZ has reported a profit of $1.82 billion for the year ended September, down 8 percent on the year before.

The cash profit, which banks see as a better measure of performance, was up 2 percent to $1.93b, lifted by gains from its sale of the One Path insurance business and its share in the Paymark EFTPOS company.

“While the company’s full-year result reflects a solid underlying performance, it had been a challenging 12 months for ANZ New Zealand reputationally,” acting chief executive Antonia Watson said.

The bank’s long standing head, David Hisco, left mid-year after a row over expenses, followed by revelations the bank had sold him a house millions below valuation.

ANZ also tangled with financial regulators for mistakes made in calculating its capital needs and attempts to prevent information being given to investors in a fraud case.

Watson said the Financial Markets Authority-Reserve Bank inquiry into the banking industry had forced it to rethink what it does and how it treats customers.

“While reviews by the FMA and RBNZ concluded the widespread misconduct issues in Australia were not found in New Zealand they helped us take stock of where we are today, what we’re doing well and what we could do better for our customers, and we’re making changes.”

She said as a result of the regulators’ demands the bank’s expenses had risen faster than its income.

Lending was up 4 pct, with deposits rising 5 pct, and income from its KiwiSaver schemes also up strongly.

“While underlying revenue growth has been subdued … our focus on responsible lending means credit quality remains strong and provision charges low,” Watson said.

She said the New Zealand economy, while growing at a slower pace, is fundamentally in good shape which is promising for businesses moving into 2020.

The ANZ has previously said it might scale back local operations, raise charges, or limit credit in response to the RBNZ’s proposal to make major banks hold significantly more capital to withstand a major financial shock.

It is reviewing again its business lending subsidiary, UDC Finance, after an earlier deal to sell to a Chinese company was blocked by the Overseas Investment Office in 2017.

This article was originally published on RNZ and re-published with permission.

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