Hiring and lending on the up as Leeds Building Society posts record numbers

Leeds Building Society has reported its fifth successive year of growth after high levels of mortgage lending saw profits rise by 5 per cent to £58m.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 5th August 2016, 4:57 pm
Updated Friday, 5th August 2016, 6:14 pm
Leeds Building Society Chief Executive, Peter Hill
Leeds Building Society Chief Executive, Peter Hill

The firm helped just shy of 4,000 first time buyers onto the property ladder in the period to the end of June this year and also rolled out an extensive recruitment programme which saw 140 people enter the business to bring its headcount to the highest level in the company’s history.

The building society’s mortgage balances stand at £12.2bn, with savings balances of £10.6bn and 738,000 members, all record numbers.

New residential mortgage lending increased by 33 per cent to £1.93bn as compared with £1.45bn in the corresponding period in 2015, a figure well above its market share.

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Leeds Building Society’s chief executive Peter Hill hailed the results and also provided further details to The Yorkshire Post of an inward investment programme, one of the reasons behind the recent increase in hiring which now sees 1,360 people working for the company.

“We have a good number of specific programmes underway currently which are specifically geared towards the customer experience.

“In 2017 you will see a up in terms of the digitalization proposition alone. What we have now is more than fit for purpose but there will be a big step up in capacity for 2017.

“I am pleased to report another strong set of results as we continue to help more people save and have the home they want.

“We have worked hard to provide security and value in this historically low interest rate environment. As a result, membership numbers and mortgage and savings balances are all at record levels. The mortgage take has been strong. We were in a position in June where gross lending was £20.1bn - the highest June lending seen since 2008.

“Clearly we are moving into a period of uncertainty but we are not in the position we were in 2008.”

He added that the market was strong for first-time buyers owing to the combination of low interest rates and schemes such as Help To Buy.

The start of 2016 also saw Leeds Building Society continue to wind down its commercial loan portfolio, movement which resulted in a credit of £1.0m being released from provisions, compared to a charge for impairment losses as at June 2015 of £5.5m.

In terms of investment Mr Hill added that the recent surge in recruitment meant an enhanced customer experience and would help towards the long-term benefit of our current and future members.

In his outlook for the remainder of 2016 and into next year, Mr Hill referenced the recent cut in the cost of borrowing by the Bank of England and the vote for Brexit.

“The society has delivered strong growth during the first six months of 2016, whilst maintaining financial strength.

“Following the vote to leave the EU, we’ve seen volatility in the financial markets and Bank Base Rate was reduced to only 0.25 per cent. This is likely to lead to still lower rates for savers and increased competition in the mortgage market. The society’s financial strength leaves it well-placed to deal with any economic shocks as we continue to deliver our investment programme, further develop our customer service and remain focused on what we do well, which is help people save and have the home they want.”