Investments mean Leeds Building Society looks to the future with interest

The UK’s fifth largest mutual, Leeds Building Society, says it has delivered on its purpose to help people save and have the home they want as it reports “robust profits and a strong performance in 2020”.

Against a backdrop of challenges posed by the pandemic the firm achieved a pre-tax profit of £80.7m, which was 8% down on the previous year. Despite this the business increased its capital and reserves to £1.35bn.

Richard Fearon, chief executive of Leeds Building Society thanked colleagues for their efforts over the last year as he said he was “immensely proud of everything” the business has done to support its members and is “looking to the future with confidence”.

Throughout a year which saw the society reduce excess liquidity, tighten risk appetite and temper levels of growth, it has continued to focus on efficiency, which in recent years has been achieved through innovation and technology.

This investment in innovation helped mitigate some of the challenges faced through the pandemic as it switched to remote working. However, Fearon adds that the society didn’t pause its investment programme and rather accelerated it, “landing lots of things we didn’t even plan to land” alongside a planned activity including a new technology platform.

The platform which enables quicker applications from start to finish has according to the chief executive received fantastic feedback from mortgage brokers and along with other efficiency investments will continue to pay dividends for the business moving forward.

Fearon is also confident about the future of the housing market, which has been buoyed by Government support such as the stamp duty holiday, which is rumoured will be extended in next week’s budget.

Richard Fearon, chief executive of Leeds Building Society

“The housing market rebounded very powerfully in the second half of last year”, the chief executive explains. “But a key point is it’s still performing strongly right now.”

Figures from Leeds Building Society show that mortgage applications are up almost 100% in January 2021 versus last year. This, Fearon states shows the “underlying strength” of the market.

Looking ahead Fearon states he has some real confidence. He states the society is committed to continuing to support its members by continuing to pay savings rates above the market average.

He also adds that the relocation of the firms head office in Leeds city centre to Sovereign Street- a move which will further lessen its environmental impact – is both on schedule and timely as business look to adapt to new ways of working post pandemic.

He conlcudes: “Leeds Building Society was created by founders who believed they could achieve more by working together and 2020 proved how mutual support and co-operation truly make a difference to all of us.

“I think our strategy is delivering and our success in a tumultuous year means I’m looking forward to what we can deliver for our members and colleagues in 2021.”