Leeds Building Society apologises for account change communications

Peter Hill
Peter Hill
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Leeds Building Society chief executive Peter Hill has apologised for communications about changes to savings accounts.

At the mutual’s annual general meeting, Mr Hill took the unprecedented step of delivering a presentation to explain the changes.

Last year, Leeds Building Society overhauled 322,000 of its instant access savings accounts.

As a result, 150,000 saw an increase in the interest rate, while 76,000 had their the level of returns held. A further 95,000 accounts were paid a lower rate of interest.

Mr Hill said he “perfectly understand” why the changes had caused “quite a reaction” from members.

Two decisions about communications were “wrong” and meant customers were not made fully aware of the higher return accounts available, Mr Hill said.

He told members he took responsibility for those decisions, adding: “I apologise for that and if we were to do such a thing in the future, we would learn from those lessons.”

The board was also forced to defend its remuneration packages at the meeting, as several members queried the payouts.

Mr Hill is in line for a £586,000 payout, with a £203,000 bonus equal to 59.5 per cent of base salary. Finance director Robin Litten will receive a total of £447,000, including £150,000 bonus.

Chairman Robin Ashton responded to the accusation that executive pay packets were “greedy” by reminding members that Leeds Building Society is a “serious business” with £12.1bn in assets, and that executive directors do not set their own pay.

Les Platts, director of the remuneration committee, said pay was set to “attract and retain” talent but added Leeds Building Society is not market-leading in its remuneration.

All resolutions were passed at the meeting, including remuneration, which was supported by more than 90 per cent of members. Risk director Andrew Greenwood was also formally voted onto the board after being appointed in January.