Can’t. CBA’s dour result

Via banking legend Ian Rogers:

CBA’s full year result for June 2019 on Wednesday will be doing well to carry much good news. Post-royal commission it’s running at 0.5 times system on retail deposits, and margins are preserved for now only by the bond rally.

Mortgage growth is a bit better than system, with Commonwealth Bank ahead of all peers, but the housing turnaround is febrile. Big banks are losing market share to smaller brands in spades and on the wholesale side global banks are taking market share willy nilly.

CBA has finally sold Colonial First State Global Asset Management to Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group for A$4.0 billion and most of this flows into revving up bank capital. It’s the only piece of work of consequence in the “simpler bank” strategy that is complete and the final version is narrower than the NewCo vision of last year, with Aussie Home Loans and the MOC stake in need of buyers.

If there is any good news from Matthew Comyn at the CBA profit it will feature:

  • a lean, sustainable dividend payout ratio;
  • stage one or the whole of the write-down and abandonment of all things Bankwest, lending truth to the “Less BS” sloganeering;
  • narrative and data on the bank’s engagement across the payments system at the level of the New Payments Platform;
  • reflections on the NPP fiasco and the industry-wide resistance to publishing self-assessments;
  • a survey of cartel matters being prepared for resolution and the implications for provisioning;
  • and price signalling –  CBA as industry leader has a responsibility to establish price points and model cost structures.

The Australian banking oligopoly and its leader Commonwealth Bank are in a monumental fix: too timid to move, too introverted to talk and forever beholden to capital markets claptrap.

Matthew Comyn might even surprise and tell a story about institutional banking and the faith he’s placed in Goldman Sachs-trained Andrew Hinchliff, head of Institutional Banking and Markets.

Once a fundamental franchise of the bank, Hinchliff has overseen the loss of 100 basis points of market share on the asset side of CBA’s institutional division over his 12 months in charge, and it’s down 200 bps over three years.

The demise in market share is only half as bad (over one year) on the liability side but there’s 200 bps of decay here too, this time over five years.

Forever promising, rarely performing, one big name in Australian finance might one day break out in wholesale banking.

Australian Super probably.

Houses and Holes

David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the fouding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal.

He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.

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