New Zealand-owned mortgage lender Heartland has posted a $15 million lift in net profit after tax to $87m for the 2021 financial year.
Underlying net profit was up 14.3 per cent at $87.9m on the previous financial year.
The bank, which said growth in Australia was a strategic priority, reported gross finance receivables, which include reverse mortgages, of $5 billion, up $368.5m or 7.9 per cent.
It will pay a final dividend of 7c per share, taking the year's total dividend to 11c per share, an increase of 4c on the previous year, attributed to easing of restrictions imposed by the Reserve Bank on distributions by banks in New Zealand.
One-off items had a $800,000 net impact on net profit, consisting of $4.1m of one-off net gains and $6.9m of one-off expenses net of tax.
Total net operating income, including fair value gains/losses on investments, was $251.2m, compared with $235.3m the previous financial year. Underlying net operating income was $247.1m, up $17.3m or 7.5 per cent on FY20.
Return on equity was 11.9 per cent up 144 basis points, while net interest margin was 4.3 per cent, up two basis points.
Earnings per share were 14.9c per share, up 2.4c per share.
Subdued growth in the first half of FY21 reflected reduced business and consumer confidence, said the bank.
But the second half of the year had seen higher levels of growth across most portfolios.
"Any direct adverse impacts of the pandemic have been absorbed within business as usual impairments, noting that the demographics most affected by Covid-19 are under represented in Heartland's customer base."
Heartland's total exposure to the retail, hospitality and transport industries, excluding road freight transport, at June 30, was 2.68 per cent, 1.71 per cent and 1.19 per cent respectively.
Its exposure to customers aged 15-24, those most affected by increases in unemployment, was 4.35 per cent in motor vehicle lending, and 1.47 per cent in personal lending as at June 30.
The bank said digitalisation was now embedded, instead of being a separate activity. The digitalisation strategy had begun with providing online mobile platforms for customers.
On its strategy for expansion across the Tasman, the bank said it had assisted more than 22,000 Australians to release equity from their homes in retirement with its reverse mortgage loan book recently surpassing A1 billion.
Expansion of its product offerings would include adjusting age requirements for reverse mortgages to enable earlier access to funds. Applications were now being taken for couples where one party aged over 60 had a partner aged 55-59.
The bank said it continued to eye expansion into other asset classes in Australia.