2021 was a pretty good one for Singapore-based finance institution Hong Leong Finance Limited (SGX:S41), where they received a number of awards – particularly, it was crowned ASEAN Finance Company of the Year for the 8th consecutive year. It was also conferred the “Best Performing Bank in Singapore 2021” by The Banker (an international publication owned by The Financial Times Ltd), as well as being rated “Top 100 ASEAN Banks” and “Top 1000 World Banks” by The Banker, and “Top 100 Singaporean Brand” by Brand Finance.

For those who are unfamiliar its operations, here’s a short introduction – Hong Leong Finance is Singapore’s largest finance company, with its core businesses involve taking deposits and savings from the public and providing financing solutions and services including corporate and consumer loans, government assistance for SMEs, corporate finance and advisory services. They currently have 28 branches strategically situated in different parts of Singapore.

As a shareholder of the Singapore-based finance company, I have studied its latest annual report published for FY2021, and in this post, you’ll find key takeaways from the report, along with details about its upcoming annual general meeting (AGM):

2021 Financial Performance:

  • Net interest income surged by 21.7% to S$178.0m (FY2020: S$146.8m), as the strategic management of deposit reap a substantial saving in funding cost, outpacing the prolonged low loan and asset yields; net interest margin was lifted by 32 basis points to 1.4% (FY2020: 1.1%.)
  • Fee and commission income increased 9.3% to S$11.2m (FY2020: S$10.2m), with improvements contributed by the company’s lending and corporate finance activities.
  • Profit after tax attributable to shareholders climbed 32.7% to S$84.8m (FY2020: S$63.9m.)
  • Non-performing loans ratio increased to 1.6% (FY2020: 1.0%) mainly attributed to slow repayment of a few files which are fully collateralised, and non-performing exposures remaining largely secured.
  • Capital adequacy ratio remained strong at 16.9% as at 31 December 2021 (compared to 16.4% a year ago), well above the prescribed requirement.
  • A final dividend of 8.25 cent/share was declared. Together with the interim dividend of 3.75 cents/share, total dividends declared for FY2021 amounted to 12.0 cents/share, and a payout ratio of 63.0%.

Accelerating Digital Transformation:

  • Encouraged the use of digital channels for their customers’ financial transaction needs (particularly payment transactions) to minimise Covid-19 exposure – where they saw a high digital adoption for payment channels such as AXS and PayNow (with the latter’s transaction volume and amount more than doubled compared to last year.)
  • Upgraded their digital vehicle loan application platform for enhanced efficiency and faster customer service – and this saw the financial institution processing more than three-folds of car loan applications this year compared to the last, with no additional manpower support.
  • Fixed deposit customers also enjoyed hassle-free transactions with the introduction of fixed deposit advice and e-payments based on online instructions.
  • Partnered with HDB on the launch of their new portal, HDB Flat Portal, to enhance buyer experience when purchasing their HDB flats.

Transitioning to a New Working Model:

  • Invested in new technology and are adopting powerful tools, like Microsoft 365 that offers a suite of apps that will help their employees working in office and at home, to stay connected and getting things done well for their customers.
  • Employees are also continued to be trained and upskilled to ensure that they maintain their high customer service standards.

Sustainability Agenda:

  • Actively promoted sustainable finance and the company was the first in Singapore to announce green vehicle financing initiative for vehicle rental companies – where they offered Vehicle-Green Loan and Charger-Green Loan.
  • Integrated sound environment, social and governance practices into the company’s operations.

Outlook Ahead:

  • There are signs of economic recovery based on external economic recovery and domestic demands, but the market still remains susceptible to economic and geopolitical uncertainties.
  • Hong Leong Finance will continue to strengthen their governance structures, improve their due diligence, and enhance the robustness of their systems and processes to drive sustainable long-term growth.

Details of AGM:

Hong Leong Finance will be holding its 62nd AGM on Friday, 29 April 2022, at 11.00am. Due to the current safe measures in place, the meeting will be held virtually (no physical attendance allowed.)

If you are a shareholder of the company, and would like to attend the meeting, you can register here (with the deadline for registration on Tuesday, 26 April 2022, at 11.00am.)

I have already registered to attend the meeting and as usual, I will be providing a summary of it in due course.

Related Documents:

Disclaimer: At the time of writing, I am a shareholder of Hong Leong Finance Limited.

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