comdirect: Very strong growth at the start of the year
Quickborn, Frankfurt/Main, Germany, 30 April 2019. At comdirect, the first quarter of 2019 was marked by high new customer acquisition and investments in growth. The comdirect group posted a solid pre-tax profit of €18.1m. “comdirect is a growth company, as we have once again demonstrated in the first quarter. With 84k new customers in just one quarter, this is one of the strongest-ever quarters in the history of comdirect,” says Arno Walter, CEO of comdirect bank AG. “With smart products and outstanding services, we create exceptional customer experiences and are always available, wherever our customers are,” adds Walter. “We are particularly pleased that this has been backed up by external studies and that we have been able to successfully defend our “Best Bank” and “Best Direct Bank” titles in the extensive bank test carried out by financial magazine €uro*.”
Strong new customer and custody account growth
The number of customers in the core B2C business stood at 2.61m as of the end of the first quarter of 2019. With 84k new customers, growth was up considerably on the previous year’s quarter (52k) and represents the strongest new customer growth in ten years.
Furthermore, the number of custody accounts rose sharply, climbing by 62k new custody accounts to 1.45m as of the end of the quarter. The number of current accounts rose by 52k to 1.62m. Total assets under control rose from €62.1bn at year-end to €68.7bn. This is due to the net fund inflow of €2.7bn as well as positive effects associated with share price gains on the stock markets.
Profit influenced by investments in growth and slow trading activity
The pre-tax profit of the comdirect group in the first quarter came in at €18.1m, which was up on the same figure for the fourth quarter of 2018 (€6.5m). On account of increased investment in growth and a year-on-year decline in trading activity on the stock markets, it fell short of the very high prior-year figure (€29.3m).
Total income in the core business of B2C amounted to €87.3m in the first three months (previous year: €88.9m). Net commission income, which is affected by trading activities, came in at €50.1m and therefore corresponded to the average level of the past three quarters, but below the record level of the first quarter of 2018 (€59.2m). The average number of trades per custody account p.a. stood at 16.0 in the first quarter of 2019, compared with 19.3 in the previous year. A total of 5.7m trades were executed in the first quarter (previous year: 5.9m). Despite the continued zero-interest environment, comdirect increased net interest income after provisions for possible loan losses to €31.8m, compared with €26.3m in the previous year. This rise is underpinned by increases in deposit and credit volumes, as well as stabilisation of the interest margin.
Administrative expenses in the core B2C business went up from €63.0m in the previous year to €74.8m. The main driver of this rise was an increase in other administrative expenses caused by additional sales expenses.
Profit in the core business (from continued activities) came to €12.5m before taxes in the first quarter of 2019 (previous year: €25.9m). At €5.6m, the discontinued activities (ebase) generated pre-tax profit above that of the previous year (€3.4m). This increase was mainly down to reduced administrative expenses as a result of the discontinuation prescribed by IFRS 5 of depreciation, amortisation and write-downs as part of the initiated sale. The sale of subsidiary ebase to the FNZ Group was agreed in July 2018 and remains subject to the approval of the supervisory authorities. The transaction is expected to be concluded in the second quarter of 2019. In total, a contribution to pre-tax profit in excess of €85m from discontinued activities is expected.
Innovative services result in exceptional customer experiences
In the first quarter, the focus remained on systematic implementation of the strategy of being a smart financial companion for customers and the top address in saving, investing and trading with securities. Thanks to the chat order service, comdirect is making it as easy to buy and sell securities as it is to send an instant message. Recently, comdirect also became one of only a few brokers that enable trading on all German stock exchanges.
With the banking partnership with HSV Fußball AG launched in the first quarter, comdirect is creating a high degree of brand identification for customers and football fans. Alongside cashless payment at all permanent sales outlets at Hamburg’s Volksparkstadion, the product range also includes an HSV fan account with a wristband in the HSV colours for contactless payments and an HSV banking app.
Efficient processes bolster growth
With a view to scaling the business model and growing it efficiently, the digital service for opening accounts and custody accounts was expanded in the first quarter, among other things. New customers recently started receiving their login details in digital form. Including immediate legitimation via VideoIdent or E-Ident, the paperless process takes just a few minutes.
A dialogue function was also added to the website search function at the beginning of April, allowing customers to find information even more quickly. In customer services, this is complemented by the targeted use of a hybrid chat bot, a voice response system and automated standard processes based on robotic process automation (RPA). By harnessing innovative technologies, comdirect can operate more cost-effectively and deliver top-class customer experiences.