The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Swansea Building Society has hailed the success of the Society’s newest branch in Carmarthen as proof that customers still desire and value face-to-face contact and a personal service for many of their financial transactions.
The branch made an operating profit in its first full year during 2016, performing much better than anticipated, with savers depositing more than £27 million of new savings with the branch. Nearly £22 million of this money has been lent to borrowers in the West Wales locality in the form of mortgages.
drivers of the Society enjoying a strong increase in its total assets and a modest increase in its profits in 2016. As a result of the growth in West Wales, the branch employs eight staff including two managers.
Alun Williams, CEO of Swansea Building Society, said the Society prides itself on providing savers and borrowers with a flexible face-to-face service. This enables the Society to really get to know its customers, understand their needs better and take a more personal view of their individual circumstances.
Such an approach has gone down particularly well in West Wales, where many banks and building societies do not have full time branch-based qualified mortgage advisors. Mr Williams also noted that many banks and building societies have been closing smaller branches in South West Wales in recent years, preferring to direct customers online or to call centres.
“Swansea Building Society has maintained a traditional approach to financial services, where customers receive a personal and friendly service with a branch representative that takes the time to really understand their needs. Getting to know our customers rather than directing them to impersonal automated services has proved successful for the Society, particularly for our customers in the Carmarthenshire region, which just shows a service with a personal touch is of great importance.
“We are delighted with the contribution made by our newest office in Carmarthen, which has been a significant factor in another strong set of annual results for the Society. Despite the substantial investments we made in staff, infrastructure and IT systems last year, we have delivered an extremely pleasing set of results.
“Although Carmarthen only opened on 31 October 2015, in its first year of trading to 31 December 2016 it recorded a profit – an exceptional performance from Sioned Jones, Branch Manager and her team. The new branch has had a significant impact in the wider West Wales region, heightening the profile and products provided by the Society.”
Swansea Building Society’s annual income was £5.7 million in 2016, an increase of £300,000 or 6 percent on its income of £5.4 million a year earlier. It was boosted by increased retail savings balances across all of its branches – but Carmarthen in particular. This helped its total assets increase by 16.2 percent to reach a new record level of £268.6 million.
The Society also increased its net profit to just over £2 million, an increase of £12,000 in comparison to 2015, despite the appointment of additional staff at its Carmarthen branch and head office, and continued investment in its IT systems.
Swansea Building Society’s balance sheet is 100 percent funded by retail and business savings and retained profits, meaning it has no reliance on the wholesale money markets to fund either asset growth or mortgage lending.