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Peter Hill to stand down from “dream job” as Leeds Building Society boss

Peter Hill
Peter Hill
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Leeds Building Society boss Peter Hill has announced he is to step down as chief executive.

Mr Hill, who has held the role since 2011, will retire in February next year having doubled the society’s assets and profits during his time in the role, as well as having added 450 people to its head count.

He will be succeeded by Richard Fearon, currently the society’s chief commercial officer, subject to the usual regulatory approval process. Mr Fearon becomes deputy chief executive with immediate effect.

The news comes as the society reports record membership of 809,000, as well as a 13 per cent growth in its assets to £19.5bn in its interim results.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Mr Hill said the role had been “his dream job”.

“When I came into the business it was quite a challenging period with lots of things to do,” he said.

“But I came in with a plan an a vision. We always talked here about a 10 year plan.

“In the first half of this year, many of those objectives came to fruition.

“Now is the time to pass on the society, in great shape, to the next generation

“There are a new set of challenges coming along, and my feeling strongly is that Richard will be a fantastic leader and custodian of the society for the next phase.

“To lead an institution like this and achieve all of your ambitions is an incredibly rare opportunity.”

Leeds Building Society, the fifth largest in the country, helped more than 20,000 people with mortgages during the period, including 5,800 first time buyers, with new residential mortgage lending of £1.8bn, down from £2.1bn in 2017.

It attracted more than 42,000 new savers, increasing retail savings balances to £13.9bn from £12.5bn.

Its pre-tax profit however dipped to £60.1m from £63.2m in June 2017, after the society booked a one-off charge of £6.9m resulting from its decision to dispose of its Irish mortgages, part of a wider strategy to reduce legacy assets.

Mr Hill explained: “Our trading performance was up about five per cent on the previous period. But what we have decided to do is sell our Irish mortgage portfolio, £133m worth of mortgages, and as a consequences of that we have booked a loss of about £6.9m so that has caused profits to dip. However that was very much part of our strategy.”

Leeds Building Society is due to move into new premises on Sovereign Street in 2019.

Leeds Building Society Chairman, Robin Ashton, paid tribute to Mr Hill’s tenure as chief executive, describing him as having “provided outstanding vision and leadership over the past seven years”.

“I would like to thank Peter for his huge contribution to our success and wish him well for the next stage in his life.

“Richard has been Chief Commercial Officer for two and half years. He was recruited with succession in mind and has proved to be an extremely able Executive Director.

“I know Richard will lead the business and our colleagues to future success, particularly as we continue to develop a Society capable of thriving in the digital age.”