AMMB Holdings Bhd (Ambank Group) sees its highest ever profit jump in four years to RM1.5 billion for the financial year ended March 31 2019 (FY19). NST file pix.

KUALA LUMPUR: AMMB Holdings Bhd (Ambank Group) saw its highest ever profit jump in four years to RM1.5 billion for the financial year ended March 31 2019 (FY19).

This marked an increase of 33 per cent from the year before.

Net interest income grew by 3.9 per cent to RM2.6 billion, while total income stood at RM4 billion.

AmBank Group chief executive officer Datuk Sulaiman Mohd Tahir said the sterling results were in line with its Top 4 Strategy, ending next year.

First revealed in 2016, the Top 4 Strategy envisions AmBank becoming the top four bank within the mass affluent, affluent, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and mid corporate segments by 2020.

"Our commendable results of RM1.5 billion net profit, on the back of a 33 per cent jump, demonstrates that our transformation strategy is bearing fruit and generating value for the group, as we continue to execute our priorities despite heightened competition and headwinds," he said.

"In terms of our Top 4 Strategy, I would say that we are already at 60 to 70 per cent completion as from an infrastructure perspective, we have definitely grown. We have also seen our stock prices becoming stronger," Sulaiman added.

He said when Top 4 was first roll out, the SME business to the group was barely negligible but is now one of the main growth drivers alongside the mortgage business within the retail banking segment.

The group's retail banking grew by 73.8 per cent with gross loans growing by 4.2 per cent year on year (YoY) from mortgages, retail SME and cards.

"When we first started Top 4, our SME presence was barely negligible, and now its is one of our main drivers going forward.

"In fact, for FY19, the retail SME segment experienced the largest growth at 53 per cent. This is a significant jump and we intend to maintain this momentum going forward."

Sulaiman said more improvements can be done within the group's wholesale banking, foreign exchange (forex) and credit cards segment.

"We definitely want to grow the forex segment by building volume there. In fact a focus for the year going forward would definitely be focusing on less risky business, like the forex, credit cards and even growing our Current Account Savings Account (CASA)," he said.

For FY2020, the group is targeting a loan growth of 4.6 per cent in tandem with the country's gross domestic product (GDP) growth of between 4.5 to 4.7 per cent.

"However, if the GDP is revised, than we will revised our loans growth to up to eight per cent," said Sulaiman.

It is also targeting a return of equity of nine per cent, bringing down cost to income ratio to 52.5 per cent and a dividend payout of between 40 per cent and 45 per cent.

The group announced a final dividend of 15 sen per share, translating to a dividend payout of 40 per cent for FY19.