Sheffield Mutual achieves £100m in assets

A YORKSHIRE mutual has seen its assets break the £100m barrier for the first time in its 125-year history.

Tony Burdin, chief executive of Sheffield Mutual Friendly Society

Sheffield Mutual Friendly Society said it had achieved “impressive” financial results for 2016, after it secured an increase in premium income and its membership continued to rise.

In 2016, the friendly society’s total assets increased by 26 per cent to £113.8m and new policies also rose by 10 per cent to 1,915.

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Premium income increased by 34 per cent to £17.5m, while membership also rose by 7 per cent to 10,678.

Including the Child Trust Fund, the society now has 77,266 policies and accounts.

A spokesman said: “Sheffield Mutual generates investment returns for its policyholders through a diversified with-profits fund, which achieved an excellent investment return of 7.22 per cent.

“This result, combined with the fact that Sheffield Mutual has no shareholders to pay, enabled the society to distribute annual bonuses to policyholders worth around £1.5m, compared with £1.2m in 2015.

“This included a bonus rate of 4.75 per cent before charges on the society’s investment ISA, which compared very favourably with cash ISA returns.”

The society said it had maintained a “strong financial base” and its surplus of £15.04m, which are the surplus assets in excess of technical provisions, are 136 per cent of the solvency capital requirement. The surplus on January 1 2016 was £13.36m.

Tony Burdin, the chief executive, said: “It is very timely to achieve the £100m milestone in our 125th year.

“Our assets were just £20m in 2006, so it demonstrates clearly the society’s impressive growth and development over the past decade.

“We expect another good year of growth in 2017, especially as the ISA allowance is increasing to £20,000 per individual for the 2017-18 tax-year.”

Mr Burdin said the mutual’s business was focused on the UK, and global events have not really affected the business.

Looking ahead to 2017, Mr Burdin said “everything was going in the right direction”.

He said the growth in the mutual’s membership numbers had partly been driven by word of mouth and personal recommendation.

He said Sheffield Mutual was well-positioned to withstand market shocks and is expected to achieve similar growth this year.

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 within a traditional with-profits fund. The society aims to offer a more personalised service than its competitors.

Over the last eight years, the society has been led by Mr Burdin, who is a passionate and life-long supporter of the mutual movement.

Mr Burdin started his financial services career at the Halifax Building Society in 1980.

He went on to hold senior roles at Leeds Building Society and Scarborough Building Society, and he became CEO of Sheffield Mutual in 2009.