Swansea Building Society News
Swansea Building Society enjoyed a strong increase in its total assets and a modest increase in its profits in 2016, mainly driven by the success of its newest branch in Carmarthen, which generated increased retail savings and mortgage balances during the year.
The 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, which opened in October 2015. 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.
The Building Society’s total loan book increased to £185 million in 2016, an increase of £15.2 million or 8.9 percent on the £170 million outstanding in 2015. This helped generate an operating profit before impairment losses and Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) provisions of £2.7 million, which, in turn, led to increased capital, which now stands at £17.8 million.
Alun Williams, Chief Executive Officer of Swansea Building Society, said he was pleased with the results and the extent to which its investment in setting up a new branch has delivered results. But he also warned that some aspects of government policy that applies to building societies continues to make life difficult for niche players that do not use the wholesale money markets for funding.
Alun Williams said:
“We are delighted with another strong set of results, particularly the contribution made by our newest office in Carmarthen. Despite the significant investments we have made in staff, infrastructure and IT systems last year, we have delivered an extremely pleasing set of results.
“That said, the economic landscape remains uncertain and we still face some challenges. Contributions to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) continue to weigh heavily on the Society and the costs are proportionately higher than that levied on the banks due to our reliance on retail depositors rather than wholesale funding.
“Following the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union, the Bank of England base rate reduced to 0.25 percent with effect from 4 August 2016, having been at 0.50 percent since 5 March 2009. Most economic forecasters expect UK Economic growth to slow in 2017 and if that is the case then the bank base rate is likely to remain at 0.25 percent well into 2017, and possibly beyond.”
Williams explained that the Society has also benefitted from stimulus in the form of the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS), which has served to depress both the retail and wholesale borrowing costs of the banking and building society sectors. But he added that while the resultant low interest rate environment benefits borrowers, savers lose out and Swansea Building Society must carefully manage inflows of funds in such an environment.
“In addition to the base rate reduction, the bank announced a package of measures including a new Term Funding Scheme (TFS) of up to £10 billion of UK Corporate Bonds and an expansion of the asset purchase scheme for UK Government bonds of up to £435 billion. Unfortunately, whilst the above will reduce the borrowing costs for households and businesses, it has led to a further reduction in savings interest rates across the UK. We remain acutely aware of the negative impact that these very low interest rates are continuing to have on our savings members.
“We kept our savings interest rates as high as we could for as long as we could during 2016. It is a measure of how competitive our current range of savings accounts are that our savings balances increased by £35.7million (16.6%) to £250.3million of savings balances under management during the year.”
The 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.
Following another successful AberDewi Festival – a Swansea event that celebrates the patron saint of Wales while raising money for the homeless - Swansea Building Society has been praised for raising a substantial sum through its sponsorship of one of the event’s competitions.
Swansea Building Society sponsored the Apprentice AberDewi Business Competition, which raised over £1200 for two charities for the homeless - The Mother Teresa Nuns and Zac’s Place.
Along with Swansea Building Society, the young people from Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr, Ysgol Gyfun Bryntawe, and Bishop Vaughan Comprehensive School who participated in the competition were inspired by the good will of both charities for their efforts to help people living on the streets of Swansea.
Alun Williams, Chief Executive Officer of Swansea Building Society, commented:
“We are very proud to be involved with the AberDewi Festival. It is a wonderful event for the city that celebrates Welsh culture yet has a very important cause at its centre. The work The Mother Teresa Nuns and Zac’s Place charities do for the homeless in Swansea is truly admirable and we are pleased to have been able to support these crucial charities through sponsoring the Apprentice-style AberDewi Business Competition.
“As a business that is built from the support of the community, we couldn’t be more pleased to show our support for the AberDewi Festival.”
The 2017 AberDewi Festival marked the third year the event has been held. Thousands gathered in Swansea city centre to take part in the free community event that not only celebrates Saint David’s Day, but everyone who lives in a modern, inclusive and diverse Wales.
Jane Parker Branch Manager of our Swansea office recently took part in a Skydive to raise funds for Tŷ Hafan.
Tŷ Hafan - the hospice for children in Wales, is one of the UKs leading paediatric palliative care charities and offers care to children and support for their families throughout Wales. This incredible charity provides expert comfort and support to families in their darkest hours and beyond.
Jane joined fellow daredevils Hayley Davies, CEO and Director of JCP Solicitors and Gavin Jones, owner of Leo Eye Care in Skewen, at Swansea Airport where they flew to 12,000 feet before jumping out of the aircraft. The event was organised by Hayley in her role as President of Swansea Bay Business Club of which Swansea Building Society and Gavin Jones are fellow members.
This was the last of three events organised by Hayley to raise funds for Tŷ Hafan.
Jane raised £820 through sponsorship which Swansea Building Society will match. A cheque for £1640 will be presented to Swansea Business Club for Tŷ Hafan. The total funds raised throughout Hayley’s presidential year was in excess of £42,000 at the end of September.
The High 5 Awards are organised by Swansea Council and rewards Swansea’s most inspirational children and young people.
Jane Parker, Swansea Branch Manager and Martin Lewis, Business Development Manager attended the awards ceremony which Swansea Building Society have sponsored since the scheme was established in 2011.
Other sponsers were Gower College, Swansea City FC, The Wave, Rotary Club of Swansea, Trade Tyres Swansea, Swansea Building Society, Day's Rental, Stenor Environmental Services, Swansea Council's recycling team, Swansea Lord Mayor's Office, Dragon Events, and The Dragon Hotel.
Swans Captain and Ambassador of the High 5, Leon Britton presented honours to those who are overcoming barriers to be the best they can or are improving the lives of others in their families, schools or communities.
Judges honoured a young daughter supporting her mum through cancer and a teenager who won't let illness get in the way of hard work and exam success.
Other winners included a boy turning his behaviour around to make his school and community a better place, teenagers who have overcome troubled childhoods and inspirational young parents overcoming the odds for their own children's future.
Swansea Building Society has hired three new members of staff at its Carmarthen branch as the company expands the business into Pembrokeshire.
Jade Francis from Haverfordwest (top photo, right) has been appointed as business development manager for Pembrokeshire. Jade has a solid background in financial services across the South Wales region, having previously worked as a mortgage advisor and financial consultant at Halifax, as well as a financial advisor at Forester Life.
Paula John from Carmarthen (top photo, left) joins the team as manager’s assistant. Paula brings 22 years’ experience in financial services to her new position, having worked most recently at Cooperative Bank and as a financial advisor at Britannia (Coop), Alliance & Leicester and Principality Building Society.
To serve the customers at the Carmarthen branch, chief cashier Jill Allen from Llanelli (bottom photo) has been appointed, bringing with her 32 years’ experience from NatWest.
Following the opening of the Carmarthen branch in November 2015, Swansea Building Society has experienced more growth in West Wales than anticipated. The society has reported a rise in enquiries from people in Pembrokeshire requiring mortgages and savings accounts. This has meant the company has needed to increase its staff base to meet this demand and continue to provide the highest level of service at the branch.
Alun Williams, chief executive of Swansea Building Society, suggests the growth of the Carmarthen branch is a result of being committed to a face-to-face and personable business model that has been well received in the West Wales region and beyond.
Williams commented: “The business is paddling in the opposite direction to mainstream banks in terms of pushing people to the online banking model. We pride ourselves on providing a more personal approach to our service and really engaging with our customers as much as possible.
“Expanding to serve the people of Pembrokeshire was the natural course for the business due to the number of people from this area approaching the Carmarthen branch for services. This growth has therefore meant we have been able to invest in talented local people and provide them with jobs with the society.”
Swansea Building Society plans to continue its expansion of the business, with the view to branch into Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire to meet demand for its services.
Swansea Building Society has become the main sponsor of PRIME Cymru; the only organisation in Wales dedicated to providing practical support to people aged 50 and over, who want to become and remain economically active.
The financial services company, which has branches in Swansea, Mumbles and Carmarthen, has provided substantial financial support to the charity as part of its corporate social responsibility programme and dedication to giving back to its customers and community.
PRIME Cymru was established in 2001. Since inception, the organisation has engaged with over 20,000 people over the age of 50 in Wales and has helped over 11,000 of these to find employment, set-up a business, retrain, or become active community volunteers. The charity also runs the largest mentoring programme in Wales with over 400 volunteer mentors.
Alun Williams, chief executive of Swansea Building Society, said he was honoured to be associated with such a worthy Welsh charity.
“We are very proud to have this association with PRIME Cymru through being the charity’s main sponsor, especially as it’s a charity that really means something to the business and our stakeholders.
“Due to the longevity of the business, which was founded back in 1923, Swansea Building Society has many long-term and loyal customers. These customers can relate to the matters addressed by PRIME Cymru, which is why we are more than happy to provide our support across the country for its users.”
Jules Weston, head of communications and fundraising at PRIME Cymru, said:
“PRIME Cymru is very grateful to Swansea Building Society for its support. We are a charity that is dedicated to providing tailored advice and support to the economically inactive 50 plus age group and without the support from organisations like Swansea Building Society, this wouldn’t be possible.”
One of Wales’ oldest rugby clubs with deep roots in the Swansea community has partnered with a local financial services company with an almost equally long history and connection to the city.
Swansea Building Society, founded in 1923, has signed a three year deal to be the main kit sponsor of Swansea RFC – itself founded in 1874.
Players from senior teams will display the Swansea Building Society logo as the main branding on shirts from the current season.
Alun Williams, Chief Executive of Swansea Building Society, said he was delighted to have agreed a long-term partnership with a club with such close connections to the local community and grass roots rugby.
“As a Swansea based company, we are thrilled to support Swansea RFC for three years. The club has a fantastic heritage and also very strong links into the community, which is important to us.
“The club does a great job in promoting sport across a wide age group in the community. We feel that thanks to this partnership both us and the club will benefit from the association. We are now looking forward to a new season and wish the club every success in competitions this year.”
With the 19th instalment of the Gower Macmarathon fast approaching, headline sponsors Swansea Building Society are making a last call to get as many people involved and raise as much money as possible for Macmillan Cancer Support.
Swansea Building Society was the headline sponsor of the event for the first time in 2015. The building society is now celebrating its second anniversary of its partnership with the Macmillian event by once again entering a team of walkers made up of staff at the company.
Leading the society’s walkers on 17 September will be chief executive Alun Williams, who took part in last year’s event for the first time, raising £12,000 at the 2015 Macmarathon with his team. The dedicated team will again complete the 22 miles from Rhossili to Mumbles Cricket Club to raise money for specialist cancer services. Walkers taking part in this year’s Macmarathon have the option to complete a 22 or 14-mile walk around the stunning Gower peninsula. The 14-mile option takes walkers from Port Eynon to Mumbles Cricket Club.
For those looking for something a little gentler, event organisers Volunteer Macmillan Swansea Committee, have this year added a two-mile walk from Caswell Bay to Mumbles Cricket Club.
Last year’s ‘Coming of Age’ event raised £174,000. Since the event started in 1997, the fundraiser has raised over £1m for Macmillan Cancer Support. Over 1000 walkers have already registered to take part in the event. Organisers expect all 1200 spaces to be filled on the day.
Commenting on the sponsorship and the team’s efforts, chief executive of Swansea Building Society, Alun Williams, said:
“We are delighted once again to be sponsoring and taking part in this very popular fundraising event for Macmillan Cancer Support. It’s great that we can put something back into the local community as the only building society or bank with its headquarters in West Wales. I enjoyed taking part last year for the first time. It’s a fun social event and it helps with the fitness too, so I’m delighted that the Swansea Building Society is the headline sponsor and taking part once again. We hope that we can add to the money we raised last year.”
South Wales fundraising manager, Kathryn Morgan, thanked Swansea Building Society for their continued support as sponsors of the annual event:
“We are very grateful to have the support of Swansea Building Society again this year. As the event enters its 19th year, it’s wonderful to see the fundraiser is increasingly being supported year on year. We’re overwhelmed that the total money raised from this event, which originally started with just a handful of local walkers, has crossed the £1m mark.”
In Wales, over 19,000 people are diagnosed with cancer every year. More than 130,000 people are currently living with or beyond cancer. By 2030, it is expected that this figure will double. Encouragingly, survival rates are steadily improving and many people recover from cancer.