Sheffield Mutual sees growth in members despite tough climate

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Sheffield Mutual Friendly Society saw growth in both its assets and membership last year, despite a decline in investment returns of its with-profits fund.

The society saw growth in assets of 4 per cent and in membership of three per cent, something it ascribed to continued popularity of its with-profits Investment ISA and regular premium plans.

Its total assets increased to £144.3 million from 2017’s £138.4 million while its traditional membership grew to 11,635 from 11,294 in 2017.

However, owing to a slump in global investment markets during the final quarter of the year, Sheffield Mutual’s with-profits fund generated an overall investment return of -0.47 per cent.

There was better news in the society’s property portfolio, which performed strongly in delivering a six per cent return, offsetting some of the unrealised losses on equities.

The total number of traditional policies it administers now stands at 15,604, having increased by five per cent from 2017’s 14,837.

Including the Child Trust Fund the Society now has 78,953 policies and accounts

The society’s chief executive Jamie Bellamy said: “The society has continued to grow organically whilst maintaining highly competitive rates, despite a backdrop of investment and economic uncertainty.

“We believe that due to our mutual ethos we’re trusted by our members to continue to offer stability and excellent member service standards.”

Mr Bellamy took on the top role at the firm, having previously held the position of finance director with the society. He joined the society’s staff in 2014.

Overall the society has retained a financial base with available capital resources of £14.8 million, which are the surplus assets in excess of capital reserves.

It also maintained healthy solvency coverage at 152 per cent of the regulatory solvency capital requirement.

Sheffield Mutual, which is based in Barnsley, was established in 1892 to provide funeral and sickness benefit schemes to its members in times of hardship.

It is a member-owned mutual friendly society and now provides a range of life insurance based, mainly tax exempt, savings and investment plans.

The society aims to offer a more personalised service than its competitors. It is also a player sponsor with Barry Grayson of the Sheffield Steelkings Para Ice Hockey Club