THE SAVINGS ARM of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) booked a double-digit income growth in 2017 on the back of the continued expansion of its loan businesses.

During a media luncheon in Makati City on Friday, RCBC Savings Bank (RCBC Savings) President Rommel S. Latinazo said the lender booked a record-high profit of P1.35 billion, 34% better than it booked in 2016.

Mr. Latinazo attributed the lender’s growth to the “continued expansion of our core consumer loan portfolio and some efficiencies we’ve had in terms of cost management.”

Its core consumer loans were primarily made up of housing and automobile loans, comprising 96% of its consumer business.

Aside from these, Mr. Latinazo added that RCBC Savings also has salary and personal loans.

“We have small portfolio of salary loans with tie-ups from private corporations to support the financial needs of their employees,” Mr. Latinazo said, adding that personal loans also contributed a small share.

Meanwhile, the bank registered a net worth of P11.8 billion and capital adequacy ratio of 14% in 2017.

Looking ahead, RCBC Savings is optimistic of booking another double-digit growth this year.

“I think we will have to take on the higher end of the growth forecast as far as profits are concerned. Mr. [Gil A.] Buenaventura mentioned about 5-10%, but I think he’ll press for more,” Mr. Latinazo said referring to the RCBC’s president and chief executive officer.

Despite its target of another double-digit growth in income and loans, Mr. Latinazo said the bank will have to be conservative this year.

“A few days ago, the auto industry send out a forecast that they see flat sales level in 2018 from a high base,” Mr. Latinazo said. “We’ll have to take the cue from them on how that industry would go considering a big chunk of the business is being derived from the auto [loan] sales, but we have a pretty good coverage of the market.”

As of September 2017, RCBC Savings was the third biggest savings bank in the country in asset terms, lagging behind BPI Family Savings Bank and Philippine Savings Bank, according to the latest central bank data. — Karl Angelo N. Vidal