Operations director named as new chief of the Leeds

LEEDS Building Society appointed a new chief executive yesterday following a lengthy recruitment process.

Operations director Peter Hill will succeed Ian Ward as the head of the UK’s fifth largest building society on August 10.

The mutual’s succession plans were thrown into doubt earlier this year after the executive due to replace Mr Ward fell ill.

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David Pickersgill, finance director and deputy chief executive, had been due to take over at the helm on January 1. Mr Ward postponed his retirement until a replacement was found.

Mr Hill joined the Leeds Building Society as general manager in 2001. In 2004 he was appointed director of operations, with strategic responsibility for key functions including business change, mortgage and investment processing and IT. He joined the board as operations director in 2006 and will become only the seventh chief executive in the society’s 136-year history.

Mr Hill told the Yorkshire Post his key priority was to continue to deliver “good value” to its members, build on the society’s “very strong” capital base and maintain a good relationship with external stakeholders.

He said: “As a successful building society we have weathered the storm of the financial crisis very well and provided good value to our borrowing and depositing members. The position we are in now is one we are very proud of.

“As incoming chief executive I intend to do more of the same. We have a great business model which will stand us in good stead for the future.”

Robin Smith, chairman of Leeds Building Society, added: “As a member of the senior management team for 10 years, five as an executive director, Peter has been a key part of the society’s success over the last decade. He is extremely well placed to ensure this continues.”

Mr Ward will retire from his position as chief executive on August 9, but will remain a director until September 23. He has held the chief executive role for almost 16 years.

He said: “I have been very fortunate to have had a first class team of executive and non-executive directors combined with extremely committed and supportive staff. I am also delighted that Peter Hill will take over from me.

“He has a proven track record of success, is very talented and has a great desire to succeed.”

Mr Smith added: “During these 16 years, we have almost quadrupled in size, achieved profitability each year with the cumulative pre-tax profit total being over £523m during this period, our capital and reserves have grown by over £370m, to £531m and we are now the UK’s fifth largest building society.

“Even since the global economic problems started in 2007, we have achieved good levels of profitability with our strong credit ratings from Moody’s and Fitch being maintained.”