By Karl Angelo N. Vidal, Reporter
THE THRIFT BANKING arm of Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) is expecting its loan portfolio to post double-digit growth this year on the back of increased consumer confidence amid more favorable economic conditions.
BPI Family Savings Bank (BFSB) President Maria Cristina L. Go said the Ayala-led lender is expecting to post 10-15% loan growth for this year, a rebound from the “flat” performance of its lending book in 2018, driven by housing and auto loans.
“We’ve seen a surge in housing applications in the first quarter. I guess it’s also that the customers are more confident making that move already because of the more steady interest rate environment,” Ms. Go said on the sidelines of the bank’s press conference in Makati City yesterday.
“There’s greater consumer confidence. And we’ve seen inflation rate tapered down, so [there’s] that confidence that their disposable income can be budgeted more steadily.”
Headline inflation stood at 3.8% in February, marking the slowest pace in 12 months and easing for the fourth straight month, on the back of milder price increases of food and non-alcoholic beverages.
However, this is still near the ceiling of the 2-4% inflation target band of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) for this year.
Meanwhile, some economists believe the central bank will trim its benchmark rates by 25 basis points during its policy meeting on Thursday as the rise in prices continues to decelerate, while others expect the BSP to start cutting borrowing costs next month as they may need more inflation data points.
Ms. Go said the thrift bank’s loan book was mostly steady last year as it was streamlining its processes.
“We’ve been flat last year on our total loans because we’re in a mode of testing and refining our processes because our processes have been unresponsive already given the size of our business,” she said.
“We’ve doubled our business in the last five years from 2012-2017. Therefore, we really have to make sure our processes will remain to be streamlined and competitive.”
Herbert D. Tuason, BFSB vice- president and mortgage division head, said for this year, the bank is targeting to capture P60 billion this year in new home loans. Ms. Go said the lender is expecting housing loans to increase their share in its overall loan portfolio from the current 55%.
Meanwhile, the bank president added that the lender is bullish on expanding its loan book this year given that its partner dealers and developers are expanding their operations outside Metro Manila.
“In both auto and housing [loans], the key growth area had been in the Visayas and Mindanao. That’s where the expansion had been,” Ms. Go said.
“We have a lot of dealers putting up dealerships outside of Metro Manila…. Even our top developers are going out of Metro Manila. You see the Build, Build, Build program of the government has helped.”
Yesterday, BFSB launched a promo allowing clients to receive P10,000 worth of deposit accounts of BPI for every P1 million approved housing loan.
“BFSB hopes to address the need of many Filipinos for housing and savings, which contribute to overall financial health,” Ms. Go was quoted as saying in a statement.
Mr. Tuason said the bank’s current interest rates for housing loans ranges from 7% to 9%.
“We actually have one of the lowest non-performing loan ratios in the industry — a little bit over one percent. That speaks for the asset quality,” Mr. Tuason added.
BFSB was the largest thrift bank in the country in asset terms as of end-September 2018 with P266.36 billion.