22 Nov 2012

Bankers respond to criticism over profits

6:53 am on 22 November 2012

The banking industry has responded to claims of excessive profits, with an analysis which shows its returns are about average when compared with firms listed on the Stock Exchange.

The Bankers Association commissioned Massey University's Centre for Banking Studies to compare the return on shareholders' equity for the banks, with those of the top 50 listed firms, between 2008 and 2012.

ASB ranked highest, with an average annual return of 16%, but fell to 14th when compared with listed firms, with Restaurant Brands coming out on top with a 32 percent average annual return.

TSB Bank is the next highest returning bank, with an average annual return of 14%, but ranked 16th overall.

Next came BNZ, followed by Kiwibank, Westpac, ANZ, and SBS, which with an average 7% return, ranked 34th.

The findings follow a recent analysis released by the Green Party which showed bank returns outpacing those for the wider economy.

But Banking Studies Centre David Tripe says the Greens are not comparing like with like by comparing the returns of all firms including small firms and sole traders with those of larger ones like banks.

He says the analysis also debunks the Greens' figures showing domestic banks making far higher profits than international peers based on 2011 profits.

The Bankers Association commissioned the analysis to show banks are not profiteering. It says expected sluggish lending growth means bank profits over the next couple of years are not likely to change much.