First Citizens Bank, Independence Square, Port-of-Spain.

The First Citizens Group has recorded a profit before tax of $232.9 million for the three months ended December 31, 2020. This is nearly a 22 per cent decline in profit when compared to the same period in 2019.

Chairman Anthony Smart said the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the T&T economy continues to have an impact on the group’s operations.

“Profit after tax amounted to $173.9 million which represented a 21.9 per cent decline when compared with the corresponding prior year period,” Smart stated in the chairman’s report.

“This stemmed primarily from the decline in interest income underpinned by reductions in interest rates and the reduction in foreign exchange trading, fees and commissions,” he stated.

Smart said the group’s total assets were valued at $47.8 billion which was a 0.7 per cent increase from September 2020.

Gross loans declined by two per cent from $19.5 billion to $19.1 billion while investments remained relatively stable at $16.5 billion.

“Customer deposits (as part of customer deposits and Other Funding Instruments) grew by 3.5 per cent moving from $28.9 billion to $29.9 billion. Expenses reflected a marginal improvement relative to the same period last year of $277.4 million as compared with $285.6 million at December 2019,” Smart stated.

Smart said earnings per share amounted to $0.69 as compared with December 2019 of $0.89.

He stated that the First Citizens Group continues to recognise the need for a “balanced approach out of consideration for its shareholders while ensuring organisational sustainability.”

The Board has declared an interim dividend of $0.36 per ordinary share which represents a reduction of 18 per cent over over the corresponding prior period.

The dividend will be paid on February 26 to shareholders on record as at February 10.

“The outlook for a global rebound, in the short term, is cautiously optimistic although regionally, growth is expected to be much more delayed in tourism-dependent economies. In the local economy, credit response remains sluggish, however, the non-energy sector already appears to be on the uptick with investments in the construction and manufacturing sectors,” Smart stated.

“While our customers and communities continue to find ways to cope with the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the First Citizens Group continues to embrace technology to enhance our customer interaction in a safe and efficient manner. Our commitment to all our stakeholders remains at the forefront of all our efforts to provide sustainability and growth,” he stated.