NatWest Group Investigation and Guidance Update

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NatWest Group recently concluded its investigation into the handling of Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage’s accounts, determining that the process was lawful. This announcement comes after Barclays, another major player in the industry, made a similar disclosure earlier this week.

In July, Farage publicly stated that he was no longer a client of Coutts, a private bank owned by NatWest, due to his political views. The aftermath of this revelation led to the resignation of Alison Rose, then CEO of NatWest, as her conversation with a journalist regarding Farage fueled a political spectacle within the bank.

Chairman Howard Davies acknowledged that U.K. law firm Travers Smith’s report outlined several “serious failings” in how Farage was treated. While the report affirmed that the decision to end the association was legally justified, it also highlighted shortcomings in the decision-making process, communication with Farage, and handling of client confidentiality.

Meanwhile, NatWest has revised its net interest income margin and total income projections for 2023. The bank now anticipates a net interest income margin exceeding 3%, a slight decrease from its previous forecast of approximately 3.15%. Additionally, the bank has adjusted its total income expectations from £14.8 billion to £14.3 billion after its third-quarter earnings fell short of expectations.

During the three months ending September 30, the bank reported total income of £3.49 billion, up from £3.23 billion in the same period last year. However, this figure missed analysts’ forecast of £3.585 billion. Net interest income for the quarter amounted to £2.685 billion, falling below consensus expectations of £2.80 million.

NatWest’s net interest margin for the quarter stood at 2.94%, lower than the projected 3.07% and the second-quarter figure of 3.13%. The bank attributed this decline to changes in deposit mix, as customers shifted their savings to interest-bearing accounts, as well as ongoing pressures on mortgage margins.

In terms of financial performance, the group achieved an operating pre-tax profit of £1.33 billion for the third quarter of 2022, surpassing the £1.09 billion reported in the same period last year. However, it slightly missed the consensus estimate of £1.36 billion compiled by the company.

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