annual report 2018 Here for good
Driving commerce and prosperity through our unique diversity
Our Strategy - the next three years Taking Standard Chartered to the next level
Our strategic priorities
Our Stories Building relationships with our clients and colleagues
Group Chairman's statement
“I am confident that as we execute our new strategic objectives with discipline and energy we will create long-term value for all our stakeholders and become the best bank we can be”
José Viñals | Group Chairman
A more innovative and resilient bank capable of stronger growth
I was convinced when I became Group Chairman that Standard Chartered was a unique organisation with huge potential based on its extraordinary network across many of the most dynamic economies in the world. This opinion is now more resolute than ever, having seen the Group strengthen its foundations and position itself for stronger and more sustainable growth. One of our Board’s key priorities is to ensure we do everything we can to help continue to unlock this potential in pursuit of Our Purpose – driving commerce and prosperity through our unique diversity.
This means that as well as our fiduciary responsibilities to our investors, we have a tremendous responsibility to the communities and societies in which we operate. Two-thirds of the global population live in our fastgrowing markets, and many have living standards below that which they deserve. We are committed to promoting sustainable economic and social development that improves the lives of people across our communities and transforms our markets for the better.
Progress during 2018
This year’s performance was delivered against a largely supportive external environment, but the global economy began to lose some steam as the year progressed, mainly due to two factors. Firstly, the continued trade tensions between the United States and China, which have significantly impacted market confidence and – in some cases – demand. And secondly, the tighter financial conditions we have seen in both emerging and developing markets as the US Federal Reserve gradually increased interest rates during the year.
This is the third year of our current strategy, and our 2018 results reflect further significant progress against our 2015 strategic priorities. Given the improved performance the Board has declared a final ordinary dividend of 15 cents per share, which would result in a full-year dividend for 2018 of 21 cents per share, approximately double the full-year dividend paid last year. We intend to increase the full-year dividend per share over time, as I described in my statement last year. As we progress in the execution of our strategy and build towards a 10 per cent return on tangible equity, the full-year dividend per share has the potential to double by 2021. To the extent additional capital generated over that period is not needed to fund further business growth, the Board will consider optimal ways of returning the excess to shareholders. The Board has also decided to adopt a formulaic approach to setting the interim dividend starting this year, being one-third of the prior year full-year dividend per share.
We have stronger foundations across all dimensions. Income is growing at a rate greater than our costs, credit impairment has notably reduced, underlying profits have increased significantly and our return on tangible equity has improved. But we have not yet reached our objective of achieving double-digit returns. Our shareholders expect this of us and we are determined to deliver it.
We have continued to plant the seeds that will deliver better performance over time. During 2018, we worked to make the bank a better organisation, capable of growing faster by strengthening our performance culture, becoming increasingly client-centric, focusing on the long term, innovating across many fronts and becoming simpler, faster and better. We delivered a negative shareholder return in 2018 in weak global equity market conditions, after two consecutive years of positive progress. I can assure you getting back to growth in that regard is an important Board priority.
Outlook for 2019
While uncertainties, mostly linked to geopolitical and political factors, have increased and global growth has moderated and become less balanced, the global economy is still expected to advance at a reasonably strong rate. The markets in our footprint continue to lead global growth, and substantial opportunities remain across them.
While we are of course not able to shape the external environment, there is much we can do to continue to grow strongly, in a safe and sustainable manner. Later in this report, Bill will set out the areas on which we will focus to develop the Group over the next three years with a view to further improving financial returns.
We must also take time to step back and consider the longer-term regulatory, political, economic, technological and societal drivers of change shaping our business and assess the impact on us. This ensures we will be able to combine the best of the old – in connecting people through trade and commerce – together with the best of the new in innovation, digital technologies and increasing client-centricity. It also enables us to prepare both for the opportunities of the future and the inevitable challenges, which put a premium on both agility and resilience.
As a Board, we have also been paying particular attention to how management develops attractive value propositions for clients, advancing our own digital revolution and becoming more disruptive in our markets. This is particularly important as competition in this space continues to grow, not just from banks, but from fintech and Big Tech companies. These new players are increasingly providing financial services with developed technology platforms and lower costs, often with more limited regulatory obligations at present.
We must also consider how we see the balance between returns and risk. In this context, the Board is supportive of an environment where our colleagues feel freer to innovate, collaborate and grow within the limits defined by our Risk Appetite.
Strengthening our defences
This year, we have been encouraged by the significant further progress we have made in improving our Risk Management Framework across all dimensions, alongside our stronger capital and liquidity position. The fight against financial crime remains paramount to us, both in our operations and in leading and partnering in initiatives to combat it more effectively.
Our enhanced Risk Appetite Statement and our improved attention to non-financial risks are two further key areas which make us stronger, and we have also passed the latest round of the Bank of England stress tests without any caveats.
That said, we are by no means complacent. One risk domain which remains top of mind is cyber risk. We continue to expand our capabilities in this area and enhance our operating models to strengthen our defences and keep pace with ever-evolving cyber threats.
This year, we have also established a newly licensed entity in Frankfurt, which means that we will be able to continue to service our European clients post-Brexit, regardless of the outcome of the EU/UK negotiations.
Helping make the world more sustainable
The world is changing rapidly, and our colleagues, clients and communities face daily economic, environmental and social challenges. At the same time, there are rising expectations about the role banks should play in creating jobs and prosperity, and in protecting the environment. It is our role to lead in taking the difficult decisions to balance environmental, social and economic needs, while listening carefully to our stakeholders – our clients, colleagues, investors, local governments, policymakers and NGOs.
This year, we launched our refreshed public Position Statements, which cover new and tightened requirements that must be met before we can undertake business in industries with high-potential environmental or social impact. This includes our position on power generation, which states we will cease providing financing for new coal-fired power plants anywhere in the world, save where there is an existing commitment.
In 2018, we celebrated 15 years of our Seeing is Believing initiative, surpassing our $100 million fundraising target in the fight against avoidable blindness. The efforts and commitment of our colleagues, as well as the support of our partners, meant that Seeing is Believing has been able to reach more than 176 million people across 37 countries, supported 4.6 million sight-restoring surgeries and trained more than 334,000 health workers since 2003. This is a proud moment for us, and I would like to thank our colleagues for their dedication and the difference they have made to the lives of individuals across our markets.
Drawing on this success, we have set ourselves a new challenge. Through Futuremakers by Standard Chartered, we will raise $50 million between 2019 and 2023 to deliver community programmes that provide disadvantaged young people with the chance to learn new skills and expertise, and improve their chances of getting a job or starting their own business.
Governance and culture
A strong culture and robust governance are essential. The Board continues to strive for a culture of open communication and challenge inside the boardroom, where the Board can hold management accountable for execution and delivery of the Board-approved strategy. We also need to continue setting the tone from the top on the right culture for the Group. Leading by example is today more important than ever. Only fully ethical leadership based on the right values and behaviours can succeed over the longer term. Anything else is a mirage and bound to evaporate sooner or later. It is as much about how we do things as what we do.
Having a strong performance culture should be closely aligned to the Group’s values. If we can outperform by making globalisation work through our diversity of markets and people, then we have put a solid stake in the ground about our values throughout all our markets.
At a Board level, our role is to champion this so that our brand promise, Here for good, becomes even more of a reality, always and everywhere. It’s the same for conduct – while progress has been made, it remains a crucial task of the Board in overseeing that all our colleagues own our culture and behave consistently with our valued behaviours.
We recently announced that Carlson Tong has joined our Board. Carlson has over 30 years’ experience operating in mainland China, Hong Kong and the wider Asia Pacific region, and a deep understanding and knowledge of the financial services sector in some of our key markets. We also announced that Dr Han Seung-soo is retiring from the Board. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr Han for his substantial contributions to the Group over the past nine years, as well as his considerable insight into Asia, particularly Korea. Om Bhatt is also stepping down from the Board, and I would like to thank Om for his significant contribution to the Group over the past six years, in particular his insight into banking and India.
Although not part of the formal governance of the Group, we established our International Advisory Council, bringing together leading global figures, which held its inaugural meeting in early February. I see this as a great additional resource for the Group in helping us better understand the key drivers influencing the world and our markets and their strategic implications for the Group.
The global economy has continued to grow, but geopolitical uncertainties and the spectre of trade protectionism remain. We are realistic concerning the key issues and risks, but despite this, the opportunities in our markets remain substantial and the work that we have done in recent years in enhancing our capabilities and strengthening our resilience puts us now in a better place to capture them.
Based on our extraordinary footprint and the talent of our colleagues, I am confident that as we execute our new strategic objectives with discipline and energy we will create long-term value for all our stakeholders and become the best bank we can be.
Group Chief Executive's review
“Our refreshed strategic priorities build on our purpose and earlier areas of focus, but mark a sharp change in the way we operate as we go from turnaround to transformation.”
Bill Winters | Group Chief Executive
Delivering sustainable, high-quality growth
We have made tremendous progress since 2015 when we set out to build strong foundations, get lean and focus on our strengths, and invest and innovate to delight our customers. In 2018, we saw further evidence of this strategy coming through – we grew profits and returns, reinstated the interim dividend, improved our customer satisfaction measures in key products and segments, invested in exciting transformative initiatives and became more agile in capturing attractive opportunities in our markets.
Standard Chartered is a unique bank. We have deep roots in, and a non-replicable network across, many of the world’s most dynamic markets, where half of the global GDP growth is expected to be generated over the next five years. Every day, our 85,000 employees of 125 nationalities help millions of people and companies succeed by growing, investing and protecting their wealth, while supporting sustainable economic and social development in the communities in which we operate. It has become fashionable to talk about purpose, but this is not new for us. Throughout our history, this purpose – to drive commerce and prosperity through our unique diversity – has always guided our decisions, behaviours and everything that we do.
Just as it has in the past, our purpose will continue to enable our success in the future. It therefore underpins the refreshed priorities that we are announcing today.
2018 was a year in which commerce and prosperity encountered their fair share of challenges. While the year started strongly with good momentum across all businesses, client sentiment in our markets dipped later in the year, coming under pressure from geopolitical uncertainties, the rapid escalation of trade tensions between the US and China, as well as slower growth in the global economy. Despite these conditions we have continued to make good progress on delivering our key areas of focus.
Our Greater China & North Asia and Retail Banking businesses overall continue to go from strength to strength. Our Transaction Banking business has taken an increasing share of a competitive market, allowing it to excel on the back of higher interest rates. Our Financial Markets business, which is one of our higher-returning activities and a major contributor to our network franchise, has grown in an environment where most others shrank, and we expect stronger performance from the refreshed team.
We grew in all segments and regions on a year-on-year basis, except for Africa & Middle East, where continued macro-political issues, exacerbated by currency depreciations, dampened income momentum.
Over half of our income is now generated from the network and wealth management activities in which we have invested. This income is growing quickly and generating premium returns. This transition to higher quality growth, together with tight cost and risk control, means we have improved our underlying return on tangible equity (RoTE) a further 120 basis points in 2018 to 5.1 per cent. While we are encouraged by the steady improvement, we are acutely aware that this level of return remains below our cost of capital.
So, what now? The Group, now on secured foundations and poised for sustainable, higher-returning growth, is at another inflection point. The refreshed priorities that we are announcing today will help realise the value of the franchise, measured not only in monetary terms but also in the positive impact on our clients, stakeholders and communities. We expect to reach a double-digit RoTE by 2021 by continuing to build a purpose-led organisation which propels global trade and investment, helps our customers and markets achieve wealth and prosperity, while doing everything that we can to make the world a cleaner, safer and more sustainable place.
Wealth and prosperity
We are here to help our clients become more prosperous – whether they are international companies fostering trade and investment, or individual customers who seek help in managing their wealth.
We continue to improve our services for the emerging affluent. We launched Premium Banking in eight markets in 2018. Priority and Premium customers now make up 56 per cent of our Retail Banking income, compared to 27 per cent in 2014. This is no coincidence – we are laser-focused on improving their banking experience with us, as exemplified by the fact that the Group is ranked by RFi Group as the best-in-class international bank for the Priority segment in seven of our top eight retail markets. Our open-architecture wealth management platform, from which we now generate 30 per cent of our Retail Banking income compared to 20 per cent in 2014, also appeals to savers and investors.
We are investing in our digital capabilities to drive transformation in profitability, opportunities and financial inclusion in the retail mass market. We are combining world-class expertise with local knowledge to be nimble and disruptive. Following the successful testing and launch of our first digital retail bank in Côte d’Ivoire last year, we have rolled out a similar model in Uganda, Tanzania and Ghana, and have plans to roll out in Kenya in the first quarter of 2019, subject to regulatory approval, and in most of our African markets by the end of the year. We have also made over 50 banking services available on a single mobile app in India. By collaborating with best-in-class partners, we can rapidly develop and roll out exceptional client propositions. Not only have we applied to establish a virtual challenger bank in Hong Kong, we, together with Alibaba’s Ant Financial, have launched two real-time, cross-border, blockchain-based payment services for the Hong Kong-Philippines and Malaysia-Pakistan remittance corridors, with plans to do more. As we advance our digital capabilities, we remain committed to increasing our investments in our cyber resilience and security. We believe that easy and immediate access to banking and wealth advisory services, enabled by mobile connectivity, will drive wealth and prosperity in even the most remote corners of our emerging markets – we have an important role to play.
Trade and investment
As a global bank with deep local expertise in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, we strongly believe in the powerful benefits of globalisation. For over 160 years, we have facilitated trade and investment in and across our markets, contributing to the rapid economic development of countries from China to Nigeria, from Singapore to the UAE.
While the benefits of globalisation have not been equally distributed, as evidenced by the rising populism in many countries, it cannot be disputed that global investment and trade have lifted more than a billion people out of extreme poverty. Supporting these global capital flows is at the heart of our business; not only is it one of our differentiated customer propositions, but it also enables us to play a key role in tackling inequality.
Our refreshed strategic priorities include reinforcing our efforts to support China’s opening and Africa’s development. As one of the largest international banks in China, and the only global bank present in scale across Africa, we are ideally positioned to help facilitate cross-border trade and investment into and out of both regions.
Beyond China and Africa, our presence in 60 markets, including 45 along the Belt & Road Initiative routes, as well as our wider network, which serves clients in a further 85 markets, is proving highly attractive to our clients. Large multinational corporates and institutions are signing up in increasing numbers because we can help them manage their own businesses efficiently and safely across multiple borders. In a report conducted by East & Partners in 2018, we ranked first for customer satisfaction in trade finance across Asia. About two-thirds of the income generated by our Corporate & Institutional Banking business is now from clients that are using the network, a significant increase compared with 2015 when the Group was more focused on capital-intensive lending to support the in-country needs of clients.
Our client income is now more diversified, less capital-intensive, stickier and higher returning. But there are still some key markets where we have not yet fulfilled our potential. We are targeting higher-returning income and efficiencies in India, Korea, the UAE and Indonesia. Realising the opportunities those markets present will significantly enhance the Group’s financial performance and returns.
As one of the leading trade banks in the world, we are investing and innovating in the way global trade finance operates to improve our customers’ experiences. In addition to working with blockchain platforms like Ripple for real-time cross-border currency settlement and supply chain financing, we are collaborating with Siemens Financial Services and TradeIX to create the industry’s first blockchain-based smart guarantees, digitising the end-to-end process in trade finance.
Since its launch in 2010, our brand promise, Here for good, has been deeply embedded into the fabric of our organisation. At its core is the promise that we will be a force for good, helping clients navigate complex threats and manage their finances consistent with their own sustainability goals.
Our unique diversity helps us to be a force for good. In addition to being included in the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index for the fourth consecutive year, the Group has been recognised by Equileap last year as a top performing UK company for gender equality, ranking third in the UK and 26th globally – a significant improvement from 42nd in 2017. However, we still have room to improve. Although we have virtually no gender pay gaps in our major markets when adjusted for level and business area, we continue to have an overall gender pay gap in the UK and other major markets, reflecting the fact that we have fewer females than males in senior roles and in businesses where the market rates of pay are highest. You may read more in our 2018 Gender Pay Gap disclosure on page 46. It will take some time and hard work, but we will not settle until the gap is fully closed.
It remains our commitment to be a leader in the fight against financial and cybercrime while partnering with others to do so. We continue to invest heavily in improving standards across our markets and with our clients. In addition to our highly successful correspondent banking and new NGO academies, we – along with a group of global banks – established a joint initiative to build a digital Trade Information Network, which will enable better assessment of risks, particularly around double financing and fraudulent trade information.
We are remediating the Group’s historical conduct issues and have made substantial progress in resolving past financial crime control issues. The New York State Department of Financial Services has acknowledged the Group’s progress in remediating and improving its financial crime controls to the point that a monitor is no longer necessary and has been replaced by an independent consultant.
We have received a decision notice from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) concerning the Group’s historical financial crime controls and we continue our discussions relating to the potential resolution of the investigation by the US authorities relating to historical violations of US sanctions, the vast majority of which pre-date 2012. As announced on 20 February 2019, we have made a provision for potential penalties relating to the US investigation, the FCA decision and previously disclosed foreign exchange trading issues. Further details are set out in Note 26 on page 305.
It is our responsibility to do everything in our power to make the world cleaner and our communities more sustainable. In addition to launching the world’s first sovereign blue bond designed to support sustainable marine and fisheries projects for the Republic of Seychelles, we refreshed and consolidated our Position Statements and announced our decision not to finance any new coal-fired power plants. We are developing ways to measure and reduce our aggregate carbon footprint, including those related to our financing activities, and will be working with our clients and other stakeholders to drive this commitment around the world. We are also working with a range of partners to increase the industry’s understanding of its role in stopping the illegal wildlife trade.
We continue to invest in our communities to promote sustainable economic and social development. As José mentioned in his statement, we began to shift our focus in 2018 to delivering community programmes that promote economic inclusion and address the challenge of inequality in our markets.
From turnaround to transformation
Our refreshed strategic priorities build on our purpose and earlier areas of focus, but mark a change in the way we operate as we go from turnaround to transformation. We are determined to build a culture of excellence, grow sustainably, and build long-term returns. We are doubling-down on what we have done well, focusing on how we build partnerships with others to deliver better outcomes, and refining our approach to low-returning areas where we can and must do better. We will:
• Embed a performance-orientated and innovative culture, which emphasises conduct and sustainability
• Invest to further accelerate growth in our higher returning international network and affluent client businesses, supporting China’s opening and Africa’s development
• Eliminate the drag on our returns from several low-returning markets, including India, Korea, the UAE and Indonesia, through cost and capital actions, investments in our affluent client franchise and potentially disruptive partnerships
• Streamline our own operations to ensure we delight our clients, and drive productivity
• Invest in digital initiatives to transform our business – augmenting strong positions in more mature markets and disrupting elsewhere, and collaborating with best-in-class partners to quickly roll-out top-class products and services
• Rapidly expand sustainable financing to drive a positive social, environmental and economic impact
By doing so, we expect to grow income between five and seven per cent, which is well above the anticipated rate of growth for the global economy, maintain strong discipline on costs to generate significant operating leverage and improve our funding and capital efficiency, producing surplus capital which can be reinvested or returned to shareholders. It is this combination that we expect will deliver a RoTE above 10 per cent by 2021.
We remain cautiously optimistic on the global macroeconomic environment, but the range of possible outcomes from an array of matters is wider than it has been in a long time. This creates uncertainty among policymakers as well as our clients. We believe that as multinational companies grapple with the possibility that barriers to trade could rise and supply chains may be impacted, they will find it even more important to deal with banks like ours that have the sophistication, market presence and determination to help them navigate an increasingly complex world.
Undoubtedly there will be shocks and bumps along the way, but as we are far more resilient now, we will be ready to absorb them when – not if – they come our way, and will seek to take advantage of disruptions if they occur.
My colleagues and I have great pride in the Group and that for which it stands. Adding a sharper performance edge to that is essential. In all the markets that I have visited this year I have delivered one consistent message to our teams: our business can only thrive if our customers feel that we are helping them in extraordinary ways. We are delivering on that commitment.
I am proud of our achievements in 2018 and excited for what we have in store for 2019 and beyond. There are always external factors which are beyond our control, but they will not be accepted as excuses. We have what it takes to perform excellently, and we will plough through obstacles we find in our way to deliver – responsibly and innovatively – the bank we know we can be.
Our Client segments
Stakeholders and Responsibilities Creating long-term value for stakeholders
We believe that regular and constructive dialogue with stakeholders is central to delivering responsible and sustainable banking. If we are to drive commerce and prosperity, we need to understand the long-term issues that impact our markets. During 2018, we increased engagement with stakeholders and continued to listen and respond to the environmental, social and corporate governance concerns of a wide range of external groups.
We enable individuals to grow and protect their wealth. We help businesses to trade, transact, invest and expand. We also help a variety of financial institutions, including banks, public sector and development organisations, with their banking needs.
We believe that great client experience is driven by great colleague experience. We want all our people to pursue their ambitions, to deliver with purpose, and have a rewarding career enabled by great people leaders.
We aim to deliver robust returns and long-term sustainable value for our investors.
We engage with relevant authorities to play our part in supporting the effective functioning of the financial system and the broader economy.
We strive to operate as a responsible and sustainable business, collaborating with local partners to promote social and economic development.
We work with local and global suppliers to ensure they can provide the right goods and services for our business, efficiently and sustainably.