ASB bank boss Vittoria Shortt says it has accelerated its investment in financial crime prevention as New Zealanders are increasingly being hit by scams.

Speaking after the bank released a record full-year net profit of $1.18 billion, Shortt said the bank had "huge" investments ahead of it particularly when it came to preventing financial crime.

"We are accelerating that," she said.

"At the same time we are continuing to invest in improving our digital experience."
She wouldn't say how much the bank was spending on the issue but described it as a "really significant investment".


Last month Banking Ombudsman Nicola Sladden said it had seen a 37 per cent jump in scam cases reported to it in the year to June 30.

Shortt said it was aware of the increasing issue and wanted to make sure it was doing everything it could to protect the business and its customers.

The bank's record profit was up 10 per cent on last year and was its eighth record in a row.

Its cash profit, its underlying operating result, was up even more at 12 per cent to $1.14b.

Shortt said New Zealand's strong economic performance over the last year had underpinned its financial result.

Lending by the bank increased 6 per cent to $83b while its deposits were up 7 per cent to $62b.

But its loan impairment expenses also rose 16 per cent to $80m.

Shortt said this primarily reflected an increase in consumer finance provisioning following higher arrears rates and write-offs.


The bank reported continued improvement on rural lending which has come through a rough patch after the dairy pay-outs had recovered from a low period.

ASB's cash net interest margin increased by 7 basis points to 2.24 per cent after a period of contraction.

The bank's cost to income ratio also improved increasing 130 basis points to 34.6 per cent and its operating income rose 9 per cent while its expenses grew by 5 per cent driven by investment in technology and regulatory compliance costs.

"Over the past year, we have hired more than 100 people and made significant investments in technology, including biometrics and facial ID, to deliver critical regulatory programmes such as Financial Crimes Compliance and Anti Money Laundering," Shortt said.

ASB's parent Commonwealth Bank of Australia, made a statutory net profit after tax from continuing operations of A$9.375b, down 4 per cent on last year.

Its cash net profit from continuing operations was A$9.23 billion down 4.8 per cent.