I am pleased to report that ABN AMRO had a good year. We continued to fulfil our promises and commitments to our various stakeholders and assisted many clients while delivering solid results, both financial and non-financial.
Clients come first
We are working hard every day to give clients the best possible service. The appreciation of our clients is reflected in, among other things, a higher Net Promoter Score for all business lines. Our clients fared well as the Dutch economy continued its recovery in 2016. We achieved growth in three of our major loan books. Firstly, we were the number one provider of new mortgages in the Netherlands for the second consecutive year, and our mortgage portfolio grew for the first time since 2010. Secondly, the SME loan portfolio in the Netherlands is growing again after years of decline. And lastly, we grew our international corporate loan portfolio. Our global sector-based approach for ECT Clients is being rolled out to Natural Resources, Renewable Energy, Food Supply Chain and Utilities and we have started onboarding new clients in these sectors. The results show that our bank can achieve growth both in the Netherlands and abroad.
We are devoting constant attention to innovation across the organisation. Our Digital Banking unit supports our drive to be at the forefront of technological developments. Our Digital Impact Fund invests in companies to co-create products and technologies that enhance our service to clients. We are very active in this area – from experimenting in our Innovation Centre and exploring the power of blockchain technology to collaborating with fintechs and positioning our digital bank MoneYou to offer more than just savings and mortgage products.
At the same time, banking is a people business and we recognise the importance of personal contact and realise that innovation is not just about technology. In this respect, we are also innovating our culture by introducing Agile principles across the organisation. Our culture further evolved in other ways as well. We continued to invest in extensive training and ongoing personal and professional development programmes to help our employees make a difference for our clients every day.
Our efforts to put clients first in everything we do were recognised by various organisations in 2016. ABN AMRO MeesPierson was named ‘Best Private Banking Services Overall’ in the Netherlands by Euromoney, and ABN AMRO Private Banking was awarded Best Overall European Private Bank and Best Private Bank – Client Service by the Wealth Briefing European Awards.
Lasting value for all our stakeholders
I am particularly proud of our achievements on the sustainability front. We made funding available to help clients make their real estate more sustainable and developed the first official Green Loan for that purpose. With well over 50% of our loan portfolio in housing and real estate, we are in a good position to make a meaningful contribution to the transition to sustainable properties in the Netherlands. We will encourage all our clients to accelerate this change and will facilitate their efforts. We also continue to reduce the environmental footprint of our own operations. Our head office in Amsterdam won the 2016 BREEAM award for being the most sustainable in-use office building in the world, and we started building a fully circular pavilion in 2016, scheduled to open its doors this year. More examples of how we are creating sustainable value for our stakeholders are highlighted throughout this report.
In the second half of 2016, we fine-tuned our strategic priorities, updated one of our financial targets and announced plans to carry out a cost-saving programme in the years up to 2020. Our pledge to be client-driven and maintain a moderate risk profile still stands. We will continue to invest in the future and we aim to achieve sustainable growth – meaning we will be selective in our pursuit of growth, focusing on sectors in which we have proven expertise. As for our financial targets, we now target a cost/income ratio in the range of 56-58% by 2020. The targets for the CET1 ratio (11.5-13.5%), ROE (10-13%) and dividend payout ratio (50% over 2017) will remain unchanged until we have more insight into the impact of Basel IV.
Financial results for 2016
The underlying net profit for the year was EUR 2,076 million, or 8% higher than in 2015. Profitability improved on the back of growth in the loan book (mortgages, SME and corporate loans) and significantly lower impairments. As a result of the restructuring charges taken for cost- saving initiatives, the cost/income ratio rose to 65.9% (61.8% excluding restructuring costs). These initiatives should lead to a leaner and more agile organisation while freeing up investments for innovation and growth. The underlying ROE was 11.8% and excludes a EUR 271 million provision we have taken for the reassessment of interest rate derivatives sold to SME clients. The reported net profit (after this provision) amounted to EUR 1,806 million. Based on this figure we propose a final dividend of EUR 0.44 per share, bringing the total dividend per share over 2016 to EUR 0.84. This is a payout ratio of 45% of the reported net profit, and an increase of 4% compared with 2015. The capital position was further strengthened, which is reflected in a 1.5 percentage point increase in the (fully-loaded) CET1 ratio to 17.0%.
We recently announced a new management structure. Going forward we will have a statutory Executive Board and an Executive Committee. The statutory Executive Board consists of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and the Chief Risk Officer (CRO). The Executive Committee consists of the members of the Executive Board, representatives from four business lines (Retail Banking, Commercial Banking, Corporate & Institutional Banking and Private Banking) and two roles with bank-wide responsibilities (Innovation & Technology and Transformation & HR). This structure will make ABN AMRO more efficient and more client-focused as the business lines are more strongly represented at senior executive level.
I would like to thank our staff for their hard work and dedication to our clients and the bank, and our clients for their business in this increasingly competitive industry. I would also like to express my gratitude to the four members of the Managing Board who have departed in the past few months. Mr Gerrit Zalm, Ms Caroline Princen, Mr Chris Vogelzang and Mr Joop Wijn made valuable contributions to the bank during an important stage of its history.