The four major banks in South Africa posted combined headline earnings of R27.8 billion, an increase of 13.1 percent in the six months ending June 2014, PwC said on Tuesday.
“Our banks have performed well,” said PwC head of banking and capital markets for Africa, Johannes Grosskopf.
“We have a stable set of results and some banks have outperformed others.”
Grosskopf was addressing the media at the release of PwC’s analysis of the major banks. The company called it “Stability amid uncertainty”.
He said the financial results of the four major banking groups –Barclays Africa Group, FirstRand, Nedbank, and Standard Bank — had remained positive despite a “challenging and uncertain operating environment”.
The total operating income of the banks increased by 9.5 percent compared to the first six months of 2013.
Bad debt expenses were down 9.6 percent while operating expenses were up 9.8 percent.
Grosskopf said the operating environment for banks remained “difficult and considerably volatile” on the back of macroeconomic uncertainty.
“It is volatile, uncertain and quite difficult for banks to navigate,” he said.
The results reflect the strength of the banking sector and the resilience of the banks to generate earnings, he said.
PwC’s Louwrens van Velden said the 9.5 percent growth in operating income showed quite a strong growth in the sector.
“People are putting money in the bank and not just spending it,” he said.
Pricing continued to be “intense” but there had been no fee increases for the same period.
Grosskopf said the sustainability of the growth rate would be a challenge in future.
Despite people’s low credit levels they continued to buy.
“People are still buying cars and spending money at retailers,” said Grosskopf.
“However, food retailers are being impacted by lower availability of credit. Other retailers have also been impacted by lower availability of credit.”
He said banks would have to be very “nimble” in the way they priced.
Investment in IT also remained high on the strategic agenda of banks because other external factors such as cyber crime were developing, he said.