Britain’s mutual sector is outperforming the financial services market, the boss of Yorkshire Building Society has claimed, after the firm posted a record level of mortgage lending in 2017.
Yorkshire Building Society reported a nine per cent increase in pre-tax profits to £165.8m after it increased gross mortgage lending by 13 per cent to £8.1bn, financing more than 36,000 home loans and helped 7,000 first-time buyers get on the property market.
Net lending was up by 46.5 per cent to £1bn at the Bradford-based business, which also opened 193,000 new accounts and increased savings balances to £28.9bn.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, chief executive Mike Regnier said that the society’s focus on its core business of mortgages and savings was paying off for its members and the business at large.
“The sector has been doing very well in the last few years,” he said.
“If you look at the other big players in the market who have all published results in the past few days, they have all displayed growth which has been faster than the market and we are the heart of that too.
“Gross lending is up year-on-year and that is so important as more and more people can benefit from the mutual model.”
He added: “We’ve continued to fulfil our core purpose of helping people achieve their key financial goals, whether that’s buying a home, saving for today, or leaving a legacy for the next generation.”
The results come during a period of change for Yorkshire Building Society as it closes its current account operations and brings the Norwich and Peterborough Building Society branches it runs under the YBS branding.
Mr Regnier said that he expected to have that process completed by the summer.
He said: “Our strategy to concentrate on our core business areas has led to adjustments in how we operate. As we announced in 2017, we are making changes to our brands and high street locations, and are withdrawing from the current account market.
“We believe these changes, which will be completed in 2018, are vital in ensuring the society is well-positioned for the future so we can continue to provide good long-term value to our members.
“It is important that we become a more efficient building society, and the year-on- year reduction in operating costs, along with improvement in the management expense ratio shows the progress we are making.
“We exist to help our members with their financial objectives, so continual improvement of our services is fundamental to us.
“The increased focus on our core businesses of mortgages and savings has helped us in this aim, illustrated by the year-on- year increase in customer advocacy.
“We will continue to prioritise improving customer service and delivering good long-term value to our membership while maintaining financial strength.”
Elsewhere the group posted strong customer service levels with an average Net Promoter Score of +41, a seven-point improvement from 2016.
The society continues to invest in changes to its online service which will enable mortgage customers to carry out product transfers at an earlier date and more efficiently.
It has also digitalised its ISA transfer process to ensure it is quicker and simpler for members.
Yorkshire Building Society also continued its successful apprenticeship programme, having taken on 36 in the past two years.
In addition Mr Regnier said that he and his team were not concerned about the impact of Brexit and the ongoing negotiations in the run up to Britain leaving in terms of it having first hand impacts upon the business.
“Our business is a UK-based business,” he said.
“Therefore the impact of Brexit is limited to secondary impacts which we may see happen on the domestic environment, be that with wages or inflation or house prices.
“Whatever happens with that we will react to but ultimately we do not see anything happening right now, other thana great deal of speculation.”
He added that an ongoing drive to improve cost savings and efficiencies was yielding results, particularly concerning the use of energy.