The FINANCIAL -- ING reported 1Q2020 result 35.7% lower than in 1Q2019 Net core lending increased by €12.3 billion in 1Q2020. Result reflects higher risk costs and negative valuation adjustments as a result of market volatility and the expected future economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Net interest income remained resilient; net fee and commission income increased on higher brokerage trades.
"The Covid-19 pandemic is profoundly affecting society and the economy throughout the world, and it will continue to do so for some time," said Ralph Hamers, CEO of ING Group. "As a globally operating bank, ING is affected in a number of ways, including through the impact the pandemic has on our customers, employees and the communities where we operate.
"In line with our purpose to empower customers, we're taking actions to do our part in supporting retail and wholesale banking customers to adapt to this new situation. That includes offering payment holidays in a number of countries, which allow our customers to postpone loan repayments. We're also working with our corporate clients to deliver tailor-made solutions for their particular challenges. But it's also about the basics of ensuring the availability of banking services through our mobile and digital channels. And this also involves things like making it easier to perform contactless payments by increasing limits and providing information and help for customers so they can learn how to do more of their banking through mobile and digital channels.
"The health and safety of our employees is a top priority. We have smoothly transitioned to a situation where around 80 percent of staff are now working from home. We support them with tools to enable them to work from home and offer guidance to help them deal effectively with the challenges that this can bring. And we've limited the number of employees in branches by keeping fewer branches open at this time and by reducing hours, while maintaining access to this channel.
"The Covid-19 pandemic also requires us to take actions to responsibly manage our business so we can deal with its impact. ING's commercial performance in the first quarter was broadly in line with the year-earlier period, and we showed stable net interest income and strong improvement in fee income. Our operational performance demonstrated the strength of our business model. However, we also saw substantially increased loan loss provisioning, including provisioning for the impact of the deteriorating macro-economic environment. This, together with fair value movements reflecting market volatility, resulted in a lower net result for the quarter.
"Given the uncertainty in the current environment we will need to look closely at our cost base to ensure that our expenses optimally support our strategic priorities and other areas of high importance, such as our ongoing know your customer (KYC) efforts. At the same time, ING is well capitalised and has a very stable funding base. This gives us the flexibility to support our customers and society during this crisis and work together with governments and regulators towards a recovery. Following the recommendation of the ECB, we have suspended dividend payments until at least 1 October.
"While we now find ourselves in a period of great uncertainty, I remain confident about ING's future. Since launching our Think Forward strategy in 2014, we've been among the leaders in digital banking and we offer a differentiating customer experience, as shown by our growing number of customers and the increasing amount of business they do with us. Our ability to grow and diversify income, our large and stable deposit base and our well-diversified loan book are a strong combination supporting our balance sheet and future profitability. This provides a solid and sustainable foundation on which to continue to support our customers and play our role in society, now and in the future."