In 2018, the Volksbanken Raiffeisenbanken Cooperative Financial Network generated a profit before taxes of €7.8 billion. The performance of the traditional banking business was encouragingly stable, with further growth in the deposit-taking and lending businesses. Significant volatility in the capital markets at the end of the year meant that profit before taxes for 2018 as a whole was down by €1.1 billion compared with the very healthy figure reported for 2017. Since then, prices in the capital markets have of course rallied.
The annual consolidated financial statements of the Cooperative Financial Network, prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), provide information on the 2018 financial year of the 875 local cooperative banks, Sparda banks, PSD banks, and other cooperative specialized institutions as well as the DZ BANK Group. Net interest income fell slightly during the reporting period, decreasing by €270 million to €18.4 billion. The Cooperative Financial Network was able to mitigate the impact of much of this reduction in net interest income – a key component of its earnings – with growth in the volume of lending. The rise in net fee and commission income also more than offset the decrease. Supported by the local cooperative banks, net fee and commission income climbed by 5 percent or €325 million to €6.8 billion. This growth was driven not only by payments processing but also by the brokerage business for real estate and by investment advice, two areas of investment that customers are increasingly turning to in the low-interest-rate environment. Loss allowances amounted to a net addition of just €151 million in 2018.
Administrative expenses rose by a moderate 1.1 percent to €18.1 billion. Income taxes amounted to €2.4 billion, which meant that the tax expense recognized was down by almost €0.5 billion. After taxes, the Cooperative Financial Network’s net profit for 2018 came to €5.4 billion.
In its customer business, the Cooperative Financial Network in 2018 again played to its strengths of focusing on values and on customers. Loans and advances to retail customers and to small and medium-sized corporate customers rose by 4.3 percent to €794.9 billion, while deposits increased by 5.2 percent to €842.4 billion. There was again brisk demand for personal home loans, while sight deposits remained customers’ preferred choice in view of the low level of interest rates. The Cooperative Financial Network’s consolidated total assets grew by 4.0 percent to €1.29 trillion.