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KPMG Report: Despite pandemic, Saudi banks have thrived

KPMG Report: Despite pandemic, Saudi banks have thrived

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KPMG reported recently that the 11 Tadawul-listed banks stayed resilient at the end of  December 31st, 2020 reflected signs of recovery since uncertainties evolved in March 2020 and a promising outlook for fiscal year 2021. These 11 banks are Alinma Bank, Arab National Bank, Al Rajhi Bank, Bank Al Jazira, Bank Al Bilad, Banque Saudi Fransi, National Commercial Bank, Riyad Bank, Saudi British Bank, Saudi Investment Bank and Samba Financial Group.

The analysis further revealed that 2020 definitely started as a challenging year due to the pandemic, but for the banking industry in Saudi Arabia it concluded as a year of reflecting ‘cohesiveness’ of industry and how the banks and the regulator can play a joint-role in economic recovery. The Saudi Central Bank came out proactively with the stimulus programme to support borrowers and simultaneously helped banks to accelerate their digital journey for ensuring continuation of all banking services without physical interaction with customers.

“A cursory glance at the FY2020 financial highlights of the Saudi Arabian banking sector reveals the unmissable effects of COVID-19. However, there is absolute unanimity that the full year numbers are a significantly better end to a year than many would have anticipated this time last year,” said Ovais Shahab, Head, Financial Services, KPMG Saudi Arabia. “Banks are reporting a strong capital and liquidity base and increasing housing demand, house mortgage is witnessed double-digit growth.”

The KPMG report answers to post-pandemic era questions, reflecting on lessons learned in the field of operational resilience, Digital Transformation and internal control. “The financial year 2021 is bound to have a different landscape where we are expected to see the evolution of important trends, including the value digital banks will bring on the table, how fintech could be the enablers in the ecosystem, and how large banks compete with medium and smaller banks; how blue-chip corporates will have a better bargaining power in a low interest rate environment” Shahab added.

“In this report, we have encompassed a dynamic shift in society and preferences of people, regulatory and compliance measures and digital acceleration that was widely observed in last twelve months and expected to continue during the remaining 2021,” said Khalil Ibrahim Al Sedais, Managing Partner Riyadh, KPMG Saudi Arabia. “The COVID-19 era has demonstrated a renewed focus on the purpose of banks, manifested in diversity and gender inclusion matters and expanding ESG agendas.”

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