Over the course of 2020, we provided early access to superannuation, paying $1.8 billion to our super fund members in need; we paused home loan repayments for 11% of our mortgage clients; we provided rent relief and other assistance to our real estate tenants; and we re-purposed some of our infrastructure assets as COVID-19 crisis centres to support communities.
We stepped up our support for clients who contacted us during the initial peak of the pandemic early in the year.
Most pleasingly, we delivered this support amid a period of intense change in our business.
In late 2019 we set out a three-year strategy to transform AMP, to create a simpler and client-led business which would deliver growth to shareholders again. In our first year of that strategy in 2020, we achieved 90% of the objectives we set. We completed the sale of AMP Life and took the decision to retain our New Zealand wealth management business to develop and grow it. We accelerated the simplification of our superannuation business and pushed forward on a challenging reshape of our financial advice business. We have also set our bank up for future growth through the successful renovation of our core banking platform, and we continued to improve our wealth business and see growth in our North platform.
We pivoted our strategy for AMP Capital, focusing on the growth of our private markets businesses of infrastructure equity, infrastructure debt and real estate, while working on plans to increase the scale of our public markets business. As we concluded our work on the portfolio review of our assets this year, the board concluded that a joint venture with Ares Management Corporation (Ares) and AMP Capital’s Private Markets business would accelerate growth and drive best returns for shareholders and clients. We announced on 26 February 2021 that AMP has entered into a non-binding heads of agreement with Ares for a 60:40 joint venture of our private markets businesses. If agreed, this proposed partnership would enable our private markets business to leverage Ares’ powerful distribution and investment expertise, enabling further growth of this business.
Our performance in 2020 was reflective of a challenging operating environment and the wide-ranging impacts of COVID-19 on our business.
Our net profit after tax (NPAT) (underlying) was $295 million due largely to the unforeseen weakening in economic conditions and impacts of the pandemic on investment markets. The net profit after tax (statutory) was $177 million (2019: loss $2.5 billion). This result was improved by the gain on sale of AMP Life and a significant reduction in impairments compared to 2019.
AMP Capital experienced several internal changes and was not immune to the impacts of COVID-19. Despite this, the business maintained its focus and saw some strong returns on infrastructure asset sales and continued support for fundraises.
AMP Bank delivered resilient performance in an increasingly competitive market, growing deposits by 12% and maintaining a steady, disciplined approach on loan credit quality. Pleasingly, the bank had over 80% of clients on mortgage repayment pauses returning to repayments by 31 December 2020.
2021 presents an opportunity for us to take our company forward with the same commitment, hard work and resilience shown by our people in 2020.
Australian wealth management continued to consolidate and strengthen practices to improve the productivity and quality of advice. The North platform continued to perform favourably and the simplification of super saw a reduction in the number of MasterTrust products from 70 to 11.
Our New Zealand wealth management business showed continued stability in 2020, growing KiwiSaver cashflows and increasing assets under management.
As we committed, our client remediation program remained a priority. The program is now more than 80% complete and we remain on track to fully complete it by mid-2021.
Despite additional investment in supporting clients through the pandemic, we delivered $121 million in gross cost savings in 2020. Although we missed our 2020 target of $140 million, we are committed to our $300 million in cumulative gross cost savings by the end of 2022. While a majority of changes as part of the cost-out program were announced in 2020, we will continue to drive towards building a simpler, more efficient business.
In the coming year, our focus will be firmly placed on continuing to deliver our transformation program in Australian wealth management, establishing our growth strategy in New Zealand wealth management, and reaching a conclusion on portfolio review and the potential joint venture for AMP Capital’s private markets business.
AMP is becoming a leaner and simpler business, and we will continue to focus on reducing our cost base to drive returns to shareholders. We will also continue to drive forward with our initiatives to embed a culture that is inclusive, accountable and performance driven.
While we face ongoing headwinds in wealth management in Australia, we are responding, and we are focusing on driving earnings growth in both the bank and the platforms business.
While 2020 has been a turbulent year, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that we are adaptable and resilient. Despite the challenges, the collaboration between governments, businesses and the wider community to respond to the pandemic illustrates what can be achieved by working together. I take great pride in the amazing work of our people and am encouraged by the support shown across our teams to lift and support each other.
I thank our people for their support and hard work this year and the board for its stewardship. Finally, while COVID-19 will continue to shape our business in different ways throughout 2021, I look forward to working with our people to grow our iconic business and remain optimistic on the outlook for AMP in 2021.