Swansea Building Society News

Swansea Building Society launches new digital service: Swansea Online

Members of Swansea Building Society will now be able to securely access their savings and mortgage accounts online for the first time, following the launch of Swansea Online, a new digital service by the 97-year old institution.

The Society’s customers will now be able to view their savings and mortgage account balances online, transfer between Society savings accounts and withdraw monies from their Society savings account(s) to a nominated bank account which must be in their name/joint names (subject to terms and conditions).

Customers will also be able to view previous transactions on savings and mortgage accounts and directly contact the Society’s highly-trained experts and advisors using a secure messaging facility.

The online platform has been set up with security and online safety as a priority. It will be accessible from any device including smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.

The Society stressed that this is not a replacement for its personal, face-to-face service, but simply an additional avenue for customers to engage with its staff and products and an especially helpful one in the context of social distancing measures, which remain in place post lockdown. 

Swansea Building Society’s four branches have remained open during the Coronavirus crisis, while following guidelines around social distancing. 

Alun Williams, Chief Executive of Swansea Building Society, said: 

“We have been working on launching an online offering for some time, but our priority was always to do so while ensuring that our members would be comfortable with the security of the platform and have complete assurance that their money is safe. The system is secure and uses a two-step sign in process, giving another safe option to manage accounts. Whether you're at home or on the go, Swansea Online will allow members access to their accounts whenever they need it and in a way that's easiest for them.
 
“Of course, this is an additional service and point of contact for our members and not a replacement for the personal service we have always cherished and built our business around. Whether a customer decides to deal with us in person at a branch office, by telephone, by post or online, the service they receive will be the same – friendly, informed, personal, professional and welcoming.”
 
To register for Swansea Online, go to: online.swansea-bs.co.uk and then follow the instructions to register. Once activated, customers will have 24/7 access to their mortgage and savings accounts*.
 
Any questions regarding registering for online access, can be sent to the Society’s dedicated online team by e-mail at: online@swansea-bs.co.uk or call into or telephone one of the Society’s branch offices across South Wales


Important news for customers regarding their mortgage payment holiday


Coronavirus (COVID-19) 3 Month Mortgage Payment Holiday

Following the recent announcement from the FCA we are continuing to support our customers affected by Coronavirus. The Society has helped many of our mortgage customers during these unprecedented times by offering a 3-month mortgage payment holiday. As this payment holiday period will be coming to an end shortly, we are committed to keeping our customers informed about what happens next to get their mortgage payments back on track. 

The FCA guidance recommends that if you are able to maintain your mortgage payments, you should do so. 

We will be writing to all customers one month prior to their mortgage payment holiday ending, to let them know what their new monthly mortgage payment will be, and when the new mortgage payments will begin, and offering the following options: 

Option 1 
The monthly interest charged to the mortgage during the 3-month payment holiday period will be added to the mortgage balance and repaid over the remaining term of the mortgage. 
This means that you will see an increase in your monthly mortgage payments once your mortgage payment period is over and the amount of interest payable under your mortgage contract will have increased. 

Option 2a 
You may opt out of capitalising the interest and discuss an alternative arrangement directly with a member of our staff, which will suit your individual circumstances. 

Option 2b 
If you are worried about paying the new mortgage payment our mortgage administration team will be able to discuss your options further, based on your individual circumstances, as you may be able to apply for a mortgage payment holiday extension (see below). 

Click Here for a flowchart explaining the options.

When will I be written to regarding the options?

  • For customers re-commencing their mortgage payments in June, we will be writing to you in early May;
  • For customers re-commencing their mortgage payments in July, we will write to you in early June; and
  • For customers re-commencing their mortgage payments in August, we will write to you in early July.

Please can we ask you to not contact us before receipt of the letter you will shortly receive from us as detailed above unless you cannot afford to re-start your mortgage payments on the due date.

If you normally pay by direct debit, we will automatically collect your payment from your bank account. If you don’t pay by direct debit or have cancelled your direct debit, you will need to make other arrangements to make the payment.

What happens if I need a mortgage payment holiday extension?
If you are unable to maintain your mortgage payments at the end of your payment holiday, then we may consider a payment holiday extension of up to 3 months.

If you require further support, we will need you to supply us with the following information to help us guide you to the best possible solution to suit your individual circumstances. We will need;
1. A fully completed statement of personal details (click here)
2. 3 months bank statements for ALL bank accounts held
3. A letter explaining your circumstances for requiring the payment holiday extension.

We appreciate you might be concerned about the impact of coronavirus and want to reassure you that we are here to help you with any concerns you have about your mortgage.

Further advice and support can be found at the following websites
www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk 
www.fca.org.uk

Remember, during April we wrote to you to confirm we have reduced all of our existing customer mortgage interest rates with effect from 1st May 2020 to further help our customers with their future monthly mortgage commitments.


Swansea Building Society – Annual General Meeting:

For the first time in its 97-year history, Swansea Building Society held its annual general meeting (AGM) behind closed doors, due to the Coronavirus pandemic – but we were able to use technology to ensure our valued members remained engaged in the process.
 
The Society usually hosts its AGM at the Liberty Stadium where approximately 70 members usually attend. This year, due to the ban on public gatherings, the event was held via a conference call, inviting members to vote by ballot paper and submit questions to the chairman in advance. The full recording of the session including those answers can be found on the links below.
 
During the event, held at noon on Thursday April 23, the Society announced that for every vote cast by members, it would donate £1 to its official charity: Wales Air Ambulance. In the end, with 1835 votes cast, it rounded the figure up to £2,000.
 
Two new board members were also officially voted onto the board at the AGM. Nathan Griffiths was voted in as the new finance director and Andrew Morgan, a chartered surveyor, was voted in as a non-executive director, replacing Roger Poolman retired last year.
 
Alun Williams, Chief Executive of Swansea Building Society, said: “These are unprecedented times and we have been forced to adapt. Despite not being able to hold the AGM in a physical form, members remained engaged in the process, casting votes and submitting questions in advance. I would encourage anyone to listen to the full transcript of proceedings.’
 
Recording of AGM – please click here to listen
 
For a list of the questions asked in advance of the AGM and the responses seen, please click here


Swansea Building Society interest rate change following B of E Base Rate changes

The Board of the Society have recently met to agree its response to the recent Bank of England Base Rate changes.  The Society’s Board is mindful of the challenges that lie ahead during these unprecedented times and that difficult decisions have to be taken to ensure that the Society is able to effectively operate both now and, in the future, ensuring the Society builds on the foundations successfully laid down over the last 97 years of operations. The current Base Rate is at its lowest rate in the history of the Bank of England (0.10%) and the Society has looked to balance the interests of both its savings and borrowing members with the changes made which are effective 1st May, 2020: 
 
In terms of the range of Society savings accounts, the Board has agreed to the following changes:

  • 0.75% decrease in personal savings interest rates
  • 0.10% decrease in corporate instant access savings rates and a 0.05% decrease in the business 90 day savings interest rates.

 
The Society has worked very hard to keep our savings interest rates as high and for as long as possible to benefit our local customers across South and West Wales. Having carefully considered this decision and undertaken a thorough check of the interest rates payable by other banks and building societies on the high street, the Society is very confident that our new reduced savings interest rates remain competitive.
 
With regards to our mortgage accounts, the Board has agreed a 0.50% rate decrease in the Society’s Standard Variable Rate (which applies to personal residential mortgage products) and a 0.25% decrease in the Society’s Commercial Variable Base Rate (which applies to those with Commercial, Buy to Let and / or Holiday Let mortgage products).
 
Savings and mortgage customers will shortly be written to regarding the changes made with mortgage customers being advised of the new monthly mortgage payment applicable. It is noted that some customers may have applied for a mortgage payment holiday as a result of the Coronavirus issues being seen and this will not impact on the agreements put in place. 
 
The Society would like to thank its customers for their continued support and we hope that everyone is staying safe.


Branch opening hours

In order to keep our staff, our communities and our NHS protected, the Swansea Building Society fully supports the Government’s call for everyone to #StayAtHome.  As a result of this, we are changing our branch offices opening hours until further notice from Wednesday 1st April, 2020 to the following:
 
Monday to Friday - 9.30am to 2pm
Saturday – Closed

While the Society is committed to keeping its branch offices open wherever possible during these challenging times, we do need our customers help to ensure we are able to support those who need it most. With this in mind, we would like to ask our valued customers to avoid visiting us unless you really have to – for example if you need to urgently withdraw money that you cannot access any other way. You can further help us to help you as follows:

  • Passbook update - Please do not come to a branch to update your passbook(s). If you do need your passbook updating, please either drop it into the post box of your local branch office or send it to your local branch office and we will update it and send it back to you.
  • Balance enquiry - If you do need a balance, we can give you one over the phone so please telephone your local branch office where our friendly staff will be able to assist.
  • Paying in a cheque - If you have a cheque to pay in, please either post it to your local branch along with your passbook or drop it into the post box of your local branch office and we will update it and send it back to you.
  • Paying into your account via an electronic payment from another bank/building society account - Don’t forget that you can pay into your Society account by making an electronic payment / setting up a standing order from your UK bank/building society account held with another institution which is ideal if you need to make a regular payment into your Society account. Please telephone / e-mail your local branch offices for the bank account details you need to quote if you wish to pay in this way.
  • General enquiry - If you just have a general enquiry, please telephone or e-mail your local branch office.
  • Withdrawals from your savings account by an electronic payment - Please note that we also now offer an electronic nominated bank account withdrawal facility where you can request a payment from your savings account to a UK bank / building society account in your name – please telephone/e-mail your local branch office for more details. 

 
Our branch contact details are available at www.swansea-bs.co.uk and please note that while our branch office counter service closes at 2pm weekdays, staff are available to take your telephone calls/reply to your e-mails until 4.45pm Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays) but we are closed on Saturdays and Sundays.   
 
While we normally love to see you, it is really important that everyone takes care of themselves and others by staying at home. Please do not go out unless it is for essentials as defined by the Government. Thank you for your continued support and please stay safe.

 


Important Update About our Annual General Meeting

As the coronavirus situation continues to develop, in the interests of public safety we have decided to hold our AGM on 23 April 2020 behind closed doors at our Head Office.  If members have any questions they would like raising at the AGM, please can they email gareth.stroud@swansea-bs.co.uk in advance of the meeting and we will ensure they are raised.  A recording of the AGM along with updates to the questions received and a summary of the AGM will be available on our website within 72 hours of the meeting being held.

CEO Alun Williams will not be making a speech or taking questions as it will only be Non-Executive Directors and Staff attending the AGM.


Swansea Building Society delivers record growth in 2019 results

Swansea Building Society celebrated new record‐breaking highs in terms of its total assets, mortgage and savings balances in 2019, when it produced its largest year of balance sheet growth in the Society’s history. 

The Society’s total assets increased by £61.0m to £370.4m, a growth rate of 20%. Its mortgage balances increased by £40.1m to £273.4m, a growth rate of 17.1%. All of the growth in net mortgage lending was funded by a £59.2m increase in retail savings balances from personal customers. 

Gross mortgage lending hit a new high at £74.3m in 2019, up from £62.2m in 2018. Despite the increased mortgage lending, mortgage arrears remained extremely low, at just £41k, representing 32 customers on a mortgage book of £273.4m and 1,761 mortgage customers. Net interest receivable for the year was £7.4m compared with £6.9m in the previous year. Its pre‐tax profits for 2019 were £2.3m, slightly down on the £2.6m it made in 2018. However, this compares very favourably to other building societies of comparable size. The Society has now delivered annual pre‐tax profits greater than £2m in each of the last six years. 

The Society remains one of the few financial institutions in the UK that has no wholesale funding or support from the Bank of England in the form of cheap funding. Its balance sheet is funded entirely by customer savings balances and its own capital reserves built up from retained profits over many years. 

The Society continued with its ethos of ‘opening not closing’ branches. With high street banks closing thousands of their branches in recent years, the Society’s philosophy differs to most financial institutions. It achieved its growth through a customer‐focused approach to finance for those who want the benefit of a personal service when banking. This is demonstrated by the Society’s relocation of its flagship branch in January 2019 to a prime high street location in Swansea City Centre. The relocation of the branch is the latest investment to take place in its branch network over the last five years, with new branches in Carmarthen and Cowbridge adding to its existing presence in Swansea and Mumbles. 

Alun Williams, Chief Executive of Swansea Building Society, said: 
“I am delighted to report that the Society has delivered a very strong performance in 2019. Our gross mortgage lending increased by 20% to £74.3m in the year, demonstrating the demand from customers for our face to face business model and our flexible approach to mortgages. 

“We opened our new Swansea branch on 7 January, 2019, and it has considerably helped improve our brand awareness in view of its prominent high street location. Alongside the Carmarthen and Cowbridge branches opened in recent years, the new branch has made a significant contribution towards our overall performance in 2019. We believe the success of our approach can be witnessed by the Society seeing a net increase of 2,817 savings members in the year, taking the Society’ total membership to above 20,000 for the first time in its history. 

“We produced strong profits while delivering objectives such as the opening of the Swansea branch, and increasing our customer facing staff to ensure we continue to deliver the personal service on which we pride ourselves. We also renovated our head office administration centre in Swansea, increased our IT spend and employed additional numbers of support staff. Each of these strategic initiatives increased the Society’s cost base as we build our infrastructure to ensure we continue to deliver sustainable growth.

However, the biggest impact to our profitability was as a result of the Society’s maintaining its market leading savings rates for its members for the full year. This was despite almost all other banks and building societies cutting rates and our savings balances on which we pay interest increasing by £59.2m. 

“It was particularly pleasing that this record growth was achieved while receiving excellent customer feedback. Results from our latest customer surveys confirm that 96.6% of our existing members would recommend the Society to other prospective customers. This again we feel supports our ‘opening not closing branches’ philosophy. 

“We recently launched a new range of mortgage products to offer customers lower interest rates on residential, self‐employed, lending in retirement and buy‐to‐let mortgages to allow more people in our heartlands to benefit from our lending propositions, and in 2020 will launch an online savings platform for our existing members which will complement our branch offering. 

“We also continued to focus on building strong relationships with the communities that we serve, including partnering with local charities such as sponsoring the Macmillan Cancer charity annual Gower Macmarathon and recently announcing Wales Air Ambulance as our first charity of the year.” 


Withdrawing monies from Society’s savings accounts / protecting yourself from fraud

Withdrawing monies from Society’s savings accounts / protecting yourself from fraud. Please click on the following link for more information:  withdrawingmoniesnotice.pdf


Swansea Building Society expands intermediary distribution with Brilliant Solutions

Swansea Building Society has joined up with the direct‐to‐lender mortgage club Brilliant Solutions, opening up access to a wider range of mortgage brokers.

The regional lender offers mortgages throughout Wales and also in England where some further restrictions can apply. The society is partnering with Brilliant Solutions to increase awareness of its varied product set. Brilliant Solutions, a mortgage club and specialist mortgage packager, operates from Swansea and is keen to raise the profile of its local building society for the benefit of brokers and their clients alike.

Matthew Arena, Managing Director of Brilliant Solutions, said:
“Swansea Building Society is a local gem that deserves to have a higher profile. Its wide range of products cater for numerous client circumstances and we are looking forward to discussing them in detail with the intermediary market.”

Alun Williams, Chief Executive of Swansea Building Society, added:
“We are delighted to partner up with Brilliant Solutions especially with them being based in Swansea. We look forward to offering our personal, tailored and common‐sense approach to lending to the brokers who are affiliated to Brilliant Solutions.”


Swansea Building Society to support Wales Air Ambulance in 2020

Swansea Building Society has chosen Wales Air Ambulance as its staff charity of the year for 2020. 

The staff will take part in fundraising activities throughout the year, with all the money going to the charity. 

Since 2001, Wales Air Ambulance has attended over 34,000 missions a year across the whole of the country. Its four airbase operations in Caernarfon, Llanelli, Welshpool and Cardiff are ready to saves lives wherever needed.

Wales Air Ambulance can be there for anyone in Wales within 20 minutes. As well as flying patients to hospital, they bring A&E directly to patients. The on‐board critical care consultants and practitioners have some of the most pioneering equipment and skills in the world. They deliver emergency treatments usually not available outside of a hospital environment, including the ability to conduct blood transfusions, administer anaesthetics, offer strong painkillers, and conduct a range of medical procedures. This means that patients receive advanced care before they even reach the hospital. 

Wales Air Ambulance is funded by the people of Wales; it relies entirely on the public’s support to help keep the helicopters flying. The charity does not receive direct funding from the government, and it does not qualify for National Lottery funding. Its helicopters are kept in the air through charitable donations, fundraising events and membership of its in‐house Lifesaving Lottery. 

The Charity is currently a 12‐hour service, 8am to 8pm, but would like to become a 24/7 service in 2020. To achieve this, Wales Air Ambulance needs to raise £8 million every year. 

Alun Williams, Chief Executive of Swansea Building Society, said: 
“We are delighted to be supporting Wales Air Ambulance this year. The charity needs to raise £8 million every year to operate the service and we are keen to do all that we can to help them. 

“Our charitable activities bring us together and help us put something back into the areas in which we operate. Our staff always put a great effort into our charitable activities and I’m looking forward to seeing what activities take place this year, and how much we manage to raise.” 

Mark Stevens, Wales Air Ambulance Fundraising Manager, said:
“We are really excited to be working alongside Swansea Building Society throughout 2020. We recently launched our fundraising campaign to promote our aim of becoming a 24/7 service and it is support like this that ensures we will be available for the people of Wales, both day and night. We have no doubt that the staff of Swansea Building Society will rise to the challenge and have a very successful year of fundraising.”


Swansea Building Society’s elves raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society

Swansea Building Society has donated nearly £3000 to the Alzheimer’s Society.  

Branch managers Jane Parker and Tony Rees, of Swansea and Mumbles branches respectively, led an elf-themed festive fundraising effort in December that raised over £1,400.

Swansea Building Society’s chief executive Alun Williams agreed to match the donation and a cheque for £2,887 was handed to Alzheimer’s Society representative Emma Moore, the community fundraiser for Bridgend, Neath, Port Talbot and Swansea, on January 7.  

National Elf Day is an annual fundraiser for the Alzheimer's Society, which most recently took place on December 6 2019. Swansea Building Society staff thought it a great opportunity to spread some festive cheer in Swansea and Mumbles branches by hosting an “Elf Week”.  Throughout the week, staff came to work dressed up in their Elf regalia to greet customers.  

Swansea branch was decorated with bunting with naughty elves placed at each till position, much to customers’ amusement. Hamper donations were gathered from staff members and then a selection of festive food and drink hampers were raffled.  Customers joined in the festive fun and showed their support and generosity by buying raffle tickets and offering donations. Cashiers hosted a cake stall and sold delicious home-made cakes and cookies.

Members of staff at Swansea Building Society’s head office, which is also based in Swansea, cooked breakfast rolls and sold them to staff members, which also contributed to the funds collected.

The Alzheimer's Society is a care and research charity for people suffering from dementia and their carers. The charity raises money to support those living with dementia and their families affected by working to improve their quality of life. It also raises money to find new treatments and to research a cure for the disease.  

The charity provides information, training and support to those who need it while hoping to create a more dementia-friendly society "so people with the condition can live without fear or prejudice".  

Swansea Building Society’s chief executive Alun Williams said:
“I’m hugely impressed by the amount of money the staff managed to raise – and they also raised a lot of smiles too. I’d like to congratulate them all on a superb fundraising effort. Our staff always really pull together to raise money for charities, and this fundraiser was no exception. I think everyone is hoping to see the elves return in 2020!”

Emma Moore, the Alzheimers Society’s community fundraiser for Bridgend, Neath, Port Talbot and Swansea said:
“The amount that Swansea Building Society managed to raise between just 2 branches over the course of their ‘elf week’ is incredible. Jane, Tony and all the staff looked elf-ceptional and we’re so very grateful for the support. There are nearly 50,000 people living with dementia in South Wales, and with someone developing dementia every 3 minutes this number is only set to rise. This money will help to provide vital support for people living with this disease in Wales now, and to provide hope for the future by continuing to research into a cure. Diolch yn fawr to all the staff and customers at Swansea Building Society.”


Board member retires after long standing service

The Deputy Chief Executive of Swansea Building Society, Neil Rosser, is retiring after 36 years with the Society. 

Rosser joined the Society in 1983 and was appointed to its board in 2001. His main responsibilities included the oversight of operational risk, including responsibility for identification, measurement and reporting of current and emerging risks. He also oversaw the compliance function to ensure compliance arrangements regarding all relevant statutes, regulations and codes of practice. He additionally chaired the Society’s Conduct Committee. 

As a part of the Society for the past 36 years, Rosser has played a central role in the Society’s continued success. The Society has reached record‐breaking highs in terms of its total assets, and mortgage and savings balances. In 2018, the Society celebrated the largest single year of growth on both sides of its balance sheet in its history. 

Rosser has also witnessed the expansion of the Society’s branch network during his years in service, with new branches in Carmarthen and Cowbridge opening over the past three years, adding to the Society’s existing branches in Swansea and Mumbles. 

Alun Williams, Chief Executive of Swansea Building Society, said: 
“Having been a part of Swansea Building Society for the last 36 years, the dedication Neil has given to our organisation has been integral to its success. His proficiency in operational risk and compliance is exceptional and has been of utmost value to the Society. I have no doubt he will remain a highly respected associate of the Society and we thank him for his long service.” 

Neil Rosser, former Deputy Chief Executive at Swansea Building Society, added: 
“I have had the honour of watching the Society develop and grow over many years but one thing that has remained the same is its focus on providing an exceptional service to its members. I am thankful for my time contributing to the Society and its expert board and confident it will prosper in the future.”


Swans open their Swansea Building Society account

Swansea City is pleased to announce that Swansea Building Society has joined the team as an ‘Official Club Partner’.

Swansea Building Society has shown their commitment to their local club by signing a threeyear partnership agreement that will also see them sponsor one of the most exclusive hospitality lounges at the Liberty Stadium.

It means the executive lounge on the third floor will now be officially named the Swansea Building Society Lounge. Founded as a mutual building society in 1923, Swansea Building Society is one of only three remaining mutual societies in Wales.

It is also the only building society or bank with its headquarters in west Wales. 

Swansea City chairman, Trevor Birch, said: “Swansea is such a great city and for one of its major institutions to become a partner in its local football club is tremendous news.

“The football club is all about its community and our aim is to keep attracting and working with local businesses to the benefit of everyone.

“The core objectives of the Society resonate with our desire to forge local relationships and we are delighted to have them on our team.”
Alun Williams, chief executive of Swansea Building Society, added:

“Swansea Building Society’s mission statement is 'to maintain and enhance its reputation as an independent financial institution in Wales.’ The Society's principal objective is the provision of mortgages secured on residential property for the use of members, particularly in the south Wales area. These mortgages are funded by personal savings deposited in a variety of traditional branch‐based savings accounts.

“By maintaining our core values of exceptional customer service and offering customers a personal face‐to‐face experience, we have enjoyed strong growth in recent years, which has allowed us to also expand our footprint across the region. We have been opening branches, rather than closing them as so many other financial institutions have been.

“Combined with our flexible approach to lending, particularly for properties outside of the standard criteria of other lenders, and our strong focus on community, we feel we are now set on a very positive path for further growth and prosperity, which we can now celebrate alongside our new partner Swansea City.”


Cowbridge branch reaches mortgage balance milestone

Swansea Building Society’s Cowbridge branch has achieved a record amount in mortgage balances, which the Society has attributed to its personal approach to mortgage lending and focus on developing niche mortgage products. These products have been particularly welcomed by those who are self‐employed, professionals, high income earners, those looking to build or renovate their own home and those looking to let properties on a short-term basis. 

The Society’s Cowbridge branch, which opened during December 2017, has reached £50 million in mortgage balances – an impressive figure considering the branch has been in operation for less than two years. 

Swansea Building Society’s offering of mortgages with competitive rates and it’s personal, tailored and common‐sense approach to lending by manually underwriting and not credit scoring cases has been welcomed by those in South East Wales. Whilst many cases are complex, the Society’s face‐to‐face approach to delivering services, understanding the needs of its customers and building a strong team have led the Society to this successful milestone. 

The achievement of the Cowbridge branch has also been attributed to the branch’s East Wales Area Manager, Richard Miles. His proactive approach and strong networking with the community in South East Wales have made a significant contribution to the branch’s rapid growth in mortgage balances through a greater understanding of the needs of the community the Society serves. 

In line with its notable growth, the Cowbridge branch recently appointed two new members of staff – a branch manager and business development manager – who will both operate across South East Wales, increasing the Society’s mortgage manager presence in the region to four front line mortgage managers. 

Swansea Building Society’s flexible approach to lending, particularly for properties outside of the standard criteria of other lenders, is now widely known throughout South East Wales and provides a solid platform for future growth. 

Richard Miles, Area Manager and Head of Savings at Swansea Building Society, said: 
“We are thrilled to have reached this milestone so early since the Cowbridge branch’s establishment. This achievement showcases that the Society’s personable, face‐to‐face business model truly works, as it enables us to really understand people’s individual circumstances and develop niche products to meet the needs of more complex mortgage customers. 

“I am confident that this more traditional approach to lending rather than the automated, restrictive approach taken by many other lenders, will be fundamental to our continued growth in the future.” 

Alun Williams, Chief Executive of Swansea Building Society, added: 
“With less than two years in business, this mortgage balance milestone is an incredible achievement for our Cowbridge branch. We are proud of our dedication to ensuring our customers can speak to a real person about their finances and it is an approach that is central to our success. Our aim is to maintain our focus on serving our communities in this traditional manner and offer tailor‐made mortgage products to benefit new and existing members.”


New lower rate niche mortgages launched by Swansea Building Society

Swansea Building Society has recently launched a new range of mortgage products to offer customers lower interest rates on residential, self‐employed, lending in retirement and buy‐to‐let mortgages. The Society has also launched new products aimed at those looking to build their own property or renovate an existing property.

The Society has launched new Loan to Value (LTV) residential mortgage products, with record low rates for those borrowing 50% or less of the valuation of the property. This is a new concept for the Society, as previously its best rates were kept for those who had sole/joint incomes of over £150,000. However, the new lower rate applicable where the LTV is 50% or less, is the same as the rate for the High Income 150 Mortgage product offered by the Society, where customers must have a sole/joint income of £150,000 and above per annum.

The Society is also launching a Residential Mortgage 60 product which has the same rate as applied to customer(s) who solely/jointly earn £100,000 and above per annum, thereby also qualifying them for the High Income 100 product. Other new products launched are the Residential Mortgage 80 with a lower rate than the current 80% LTV mortgage as well as the Residential Mortgage 90 product, which has a maximum LTV of 90%. The Residential Mortgage 90 is for the first time available to all customers and not just those who are self‐employed or who need a professional qualification to do their role. Customers must be based in Wales or in the Welsh Border counties to qualify for the Residential Mortgage 90 product.

In addition to its Residential Mortgage products, the Society has also reduced the rate of its Self‐ Employed and Lending in Retirement mortgages which are available for those who require an LTV up to 80% (for the self‐employed mortgage) and up to 60% (for the Lending in Retirement mortgage which is available to customers up to age 85).

The Society has also launched new buy‐to‐let and holiday let products with lower rates than currently on offer. Furthermore, customers can now borrow up to 75% of the property value, which is a 5% increase on the previous maximum LTV.

Consumer buy‐to‐let products have also been launched by the Society and are aimed at those who previously lived in the family home but now wish to let the property. This mortgage has been designed for people who have become accidental landlords and are regulated in the same way as residential mortgages. This means the borrower enjoys more protection than they would with a normal business buy‐to‐let mortgage.

The Society has also launched new products aimed at those looking to build their own home via a Self‐Build project or are looking to renovate an existing property. These products are available in Wales/the Welsh border counties only and for the first 24 months are available on interest only terms swapping to full repayment terms from month 25.

The new mortgage products have been introduced to meet the demands of the Society’s customers across a number of areas utilising the Society’s common‐sense approach to mortgage lending. With no credit scoring and manually underwriting applied on all cases, there is no ‘computer says no’ mentality when assessing cases even for those which are complex and need a tailored and personal approach. In addition, as a mutual building society, Swansea Building Society can pass on rate cuts to its members while maintaining attractive saving rates.

Alun Williams, Chief Executive of Swansea Building Society, said:
“We strive to always deliver the best products possible to our customers and these new mortgage offerings have been carefully designed to do just that. Our mortgage managers take the time to really understand the needs of our customers in more niche circumstances, such as those who are self‐employed and therefore have a different income structure, or those looking to build their own property.

“These lower rate mortgages that cater to customers in these situations are incredibly competitive and demonstrate the Society’s dedication to passing on rate cuts to mortgage customers, while continuing to offer favourable rates for savers.”


Headline sponsor Swansea Building Society completes Gower Macmarathon

Swansea Building Society joined hundreds of walkers at the recent Gower Macmarathon event to show its continued support for Macmillan Cancer Support and help raise money for the charity’s specialist cancer services.
 
Led by Swansea Building Society’s Chief Executive, Alun Williams, a team from the Society completed the 22nd instalment of the Gower Macmarathon on Saturday 14 September, which saw walkers enjoying Gower’s picturesque coastline on a route from Rhossili to Mumbles Cricket Club.
 
Swansea Building Society has been the headline sponsor of the popular event since 2015, with its team of walkers joining over 1000 others in completing the 22-mile Gower walk to raise funds for Macmillan.
 
Over the past five years, the Gower Macmarathon has raised over £720,000, and over the past 22 years, the event has generated £2 million. In addition to the support the Society provides to the Gower Macmarathon, it also donates a pound to the charity for every vote it gets at its Annual General Meeting (AGM), which this year was £1,700.
 
Walkers who took part in the 2019 event also had the option to complete a 14 mile walk from Port Eynon to Mumbles Cricket Club.
 
Alun Williams, Chief Executive of Swansea Building Society, said:
“The Gower Macmarathon is always a fantastic event to participate in and it was wonderful to once again have a team from the Society join in with those in the community to support this incredibly important cause. This year marks our fifth consecutive year as headline sponsors of the event, which shows our dedication to an occasion that enjoys the beauty of Gower, whilst raising funds for the crucial work that MacMillan does to provide care and support to those impacted by cancer.
 
“We thoroughly enjoyed this year’s Macmarathon and would like to thank all those who joined us at the event to support this greatly admired charity.”
 
Sue Reece, South West Wales fundraising manager for Macmillan Cancer Support, added:
“It has been fantastic to have the support of Swansea Building Society for the Gower Macmarathon again this year. As a charity, Macmillan Cancer Support rely on donations to provide the physical, financial and emotional support to help people affected by cancer live life as fully as they can.
 
“An event like the Macmarathon helps not just with fundraising but also to raise our profile in the local area, in turn those who take part get to enjoy stunning scenery and the great camaraderie between all of those walking to support Macmillan.”


The building society that is bucking the trend and opening branches – that must be Swansea Building Society

Swansea Building Society pledges fifth year of support to Gower Macmarathon

Swansea Building Society is supporting Macmillan Cancer Support’s Gower Macmarathon for a fifth consecutive year, to continue to help raise money for the charity’s specialist cancer services. 

The 2019 Gower Macmarathon, which will see walkers enjoying Gower’s picturesque coastline, takes place on Saturday 14 September. Headline sponsors Swansea Building Society will be welcoming people to join over 1000 walkers to complete the 22‐mile Gower route to raise funds for Macmillan. Last year, the event raised £184,000. Over the past four years of Swansea Building Society sponsoring the event, the Gower Macmarathon has so far raised over £752,000. In addition to the support the Society provides to the Gower Macmarathon, it also donates a pound to the charity for every vote it gets at its Annual General Meeting (AGM), which this year was £1,700. 

This year’s Gower Macmarathon marks the 22nd instalment of the event. A team from Swansea Building Society will once again participate in the 22 mile walk from Rhossili to Mumbles Cricket Club and will be led by the Society’s Chief Executive, Alun Williams. Walkers taking part in the 2019 event also have the option to complete a 14 mile walk or a 2.5 mile walk around the Gower peninsula. The 14 mile option takes walkers from Port Eynon to Mumbles Cricket Club, and the 2.5 mile journey takes walkers from Caswell Bay to Mumbles. 

Alun Williams, Chief Executive of Swansea Building Society, said: 
“We are proud to have been headline sponsors of the Gower Macmarathon for five consecutive years, which shows our dedication to an event that enjoys the beauty of Gower, whilst raising money for the vital work that MacMillan does to provide care and support to those affected by cancer.

“A team from Swansea Building Society including myself will again join walkers to complete the route. Joining the local community and supporting each other along the way is a wonderful thing to be a part of. 

“We look forward to another enjoyable day with all those involved in the walk and hope we can raise even more money this year for Macmillan.”

Sue Reece, South West Wales fundraising manager for Macmillan Cancer Support, added:
“A huge thank you to Swansea Building Society for their invaluable continued support over the past five years, enabling us to raise awareness and vital funds for people living with cancer in the local community. We’re looking forward to cheering their team on the day.”


Swansea Building Society appoints new Finance Director

Swansea Building Society has recently appointed a new Finance Director. Nathan Griffiths from Swansea has been appointed at the Society’s head office in Cradock Street, Swansea.
A Chartered Accountant, Griffiths has an impressive background in financial services having spent eight years at Deloitte specialising in providing advisory and assurance services to building societies and retail banks across the UK. Upon leaving Deloitte as a senior manager, Griffiths joined Monmouthshire Building Society where he has spent the last four years as Financial Controller.

Griffiths joins Swansea Building Society during a time of prosperity. The Society reached record-breaking highs in terms of its total assets, mortgage and savings balances in 2018, when it celebrated the largest single year of growth on both sides of its Balance Sheet in the Society’s history. The Society remains one of the few financial institutions in the UK that has no wholesale funding or support from the Bank of England in the form of cheap funding. Its Balance Sheet is funded entirely by customer savings balances and its own capital reserves built up from retained profits over many years.

Alun Williams, Chief Executive of Swansea Building Society, said:
“We are thrilled to welcome Nathan to Swansea Building Society during such a prosperous time. His impressive financial background and experience within the building society sector makes him a solid asset to the Society. We look forward to working with Nathan and have no doubt he will provide a valuable contribution to the Society, which will enhance our dedication to offering our members an outstanding personalised service.”

Nathan Griffiths, newly appointed Finance Director at Swansea Building Society, added:
“I am delighted to be joining Swansea Building Society at such an exciting time in its history. The Society has achieved unprecedented levels of success in recent years. Being born and brought up in Swansea, I am really excited to be bringing my experience within the building society and banking sectors to my local Society and working with the team to contribute to the Society’s future success.”


Deputy chairman retires from Swansea Building Society

Deputy Chairman of Swansea Building Society, Roger Poolman, has stepped down from the financial institution’s board after nine years of service.

Poolman was appointed to the Society’s board in November 2009. He is a chartered surveyor with over 40 years’ experience in the Swansea and South Wales property market. He was chair of the Risk Committee and a member of the Remuneration and Nominations Committee and Assets and Liabilities Committee.

Andrew Morgan, a chartered surveyor with over 35 years’ experience in practice within the Mid, West and South West regions of Wales, has succeeded Poolman. 

During his time as a member of the board, Poolman has seen the Society reach record-breaking highs in terms of its total assets, and mortgage and savings balances. In 2018, the Society celebrated the largest single year of growth on both sides of its balance sheet in its history.

Poolman has also been a part of the Society’s expanding branch network over the last three years, with new branches in Carmarthen and Cowbridge adding to its existing branches in Swansea and Mumbles.

The announcement of his retirement came during the Society’s Annual General Meeting, which was held at Swansea Liberty Stadium on Thursday 25 April 2019.

Alun Williams, Chief Executive of Swansea Building Society, said:

“We are extremely thankful to Roger for the many valuable contributions he has made to the Society during his time as Deputy Chairman. His vast knowledge of Wales’ property market in addition to his respected expertise in risk management has played a central role to our operations. We wish him all the very best for the future.”  

Roger Poolman, former Deputy Chairman at Swansea Building Society, added:

“It has been an honour to be a part of Swansea Building Society’s board over the past nine years. The Society is a renowned financial institution in South Wales and to have the opportunity to contribute to its growth and prosperity is incredibly rewarding. With the wealth of knowledge and professionalism held by the remaining board members, I look forward to seeing its continued success.”  


Swansea Building Society shines in BSA survey

An independent survey by the Building Societies Association (BSA), which focuses on culture as outlined by employees, really shows Swansea Building Society’s staff’s pride in their Society and care for customers.

The BSA culture survey demonstrates that Swansea Building Society’s staff felt highly aligned to their organisation’s values. Swansea Building Society shone for its staff being proud to work at their Society, as well as staff feeling confident explaining the meaning of mutuality to a customer.

Swansea Building Society’s staff also rated their working environment as supportive and their organisation’s relationship with customers as trustworthy, ethical, friendly and putting members first.

Alun Williams, Chief Executive of Swansea Building Society, said:

“We are incredibly proud to have such outstanding results from the BSA culture survey 2018. Our staff provide a genuinely caring and personal service to our members and this has been clearly validated by the survey.

“Our staff truly make the real difference when it comes to serving our members. The affirmation that they hold such pride in the Society and the work that they do is extremely rewarding.”


Swansea Building Society enjoys record growth in its 2018 results

On the back of ‘opening not closing’ branches over the last three years, Swansea Building Society reached new record‐breaking highs in terms of its total assets, mortgage and savings balances in 2018, when it celebrated the largest single year of growth on both sides of its balance sheet in the Society’s history.

The Society’s total assets increased by £34.0m to £309.3m, a growth rate of 12.3%. Its mortgage balances increased by £32.0m to £233.2m, a growth rate of 15.8%. All of the growth in net mortgage lending was funded by increased retail savings balances from personal customers of £31.9m.

The Society remains one of the few financial institutions in the UK that has no wholesale funding or support from the Bank of England in the form of cheap funding. Its balance sheet is funded entirely by customer savings balances and its own capital reserves built up from retained profits over many years.

Gross mortgage lending hit a new high at £62.2m in 2018, up from £46.0m in 2017 as a result of opening the new Cowbridge branch in 2017 and appointing more customer facing mortgage managers. Despite the increased mortgage lending, mortgage arrears amounted to just £27k, representing 25 customers on a mortgage book of £233.2m and 1,666 mortgage customers.

The Society’s total net interest receivable for the year was £6.8m compared to £6.4m in the previous year. Its pre‐tax profits for 2018 were £2.6m, slightly down on the £2.9m it made in 2017. The Society has now delivered consistent annual pre‐tax profits of between £2.5m and £2.9M over the last five years.

The Society has invested heavily in expanding its branch network over the last three years, with new branches in Carmarthen and Cowbridge adding to its existing branches in Swansea and Mumbles. This demonstrates the Society’s ethos of opening not closing branches.

The relocation of its flagship Swansea branch to a prime high street location in Swansea City Centre in January 2019 also supports this philosophy, which is in stable contrast to the majority of financial institutions, which have been closing branches and making long serving staff redundant. The Society is also surveying the potential in South and Mid Wales to continue its branch expansion plans to further widen its geographic footprint.

Alun Williams, Chief Executive of Swansea Building Society, said: “I am delighted to report that all of our branches performed strongly in 2018, Carmarthen and Cowbridge our newest branches in particular. The growth witnessed in 2018 fully justifies our strategy of opening new branches and investing in well trained and qualified customer facing staff.

“Despite the increase in the Bank Of England base interest rate in August 2018 our gross mortgage lending increased by 35% to £62.2m in 2018, demonstrating the demand from customers for our face‐to‐face mortgage sales business model, which we deliver in branch. We strive to provide a personal service to all of our customers and understand the needs of the communities that we serve. We firmly believe that it is this approach that underpins our continued success.

“Results from our latest customer surveys confirm that 97.2% of our existing customers would recommend the Society to other prospective customers, which again we feel supports our current branch expansion policy. We are providing an outstanding level of customer service which our new customers cannot believe, based on their experiences with other financial services institutions.

“We opened our new Swansea branch on 7 January 2019 and it has already helped improve our brand awareness in view of its prominent high street location. The new branch is already making a very significant contribution towards our overall performance in 2019 for the year to date. We are currently renovating our head office administration centre in Cradock Street in Swansea to accommodate more staff to provide back‐up administration services to our branch based team members.

“It is true that our profits reduced in 2018 as a result of our investment in new branches in Cowbridge and Swansea, as well as increasing our customer facing staff members and a considerable and ongoing investment in IT. However, the biggest impact to our profitability was as a result of increasing all of our savings interest rates by the full 0.25% during 2018. This increased the interest payable to our savings members by over £660k during the year which is no bad thing for a member owned business such as ours.

“Our aim is to continue delivering strong controlled growth through our existing branch network as well as potentially expanding our branch network further within South Wales.” Swansea Building Society’s balance sheet is 100% 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, as well as having liquidity and capital ratios that far exceed minimum regulatory requirements. 

 


Swansea Building Society - Portland Street
Swansea Branch now moved to Portland Street
Swansea Building Society has now opened its new branch in Swansea City Centre, at 1-4 Portland Street.
 
The new retail branch complements the Society’s other branches in Mumbles, Carmarthen and its branch in Cowbridge, which opened in December 2017.
 
The Society’s previous Swansea branch on Cradock Street will remain the company’s headquarters and expand further as it takes on more back office staff to support its growing network of branches.
 
The new Swansea branch provides an enhanced service to the Society’s retail customers in the area due to its more central location, and will help generate further growth for the Society.
 
Alun Williams, chief executive of Swansea Building Society, said:
The new Swansea branch will further develop our business in our heartland of Swansea and enhance the accessibility of our products and services.
With the redevelopment of the city centre, the expansion of the Society to Portland Street in addition to our current head office in Cradock Street complements this and shows our belief in a thriving future for the city of Swansea.
 
Rob Stewart, leader of Swansea Council, said:
It’s great to see a Swansea based business that has been operating for nearly 100 years expanding and taking a prime position in the new city centre we are creating. I wish them every success.”
 
More information on the new branch in Portland Street, Swansea can be found by clicking here.

Alun Williams, Swansea Business Personality of the decade

The Society is often spotlighted in local business magazines and periodicals and we are pleased to link here to an interview with Chief Executive Alun Williams in this month’s TheBAY Magazine.

TheBAY Magazine is a free, monthly, lifestyle magazine for readers in Swansea and Gower. Their editorial policy is to inform, educate and entertain the local community of readers – in addition they have an effective editorial to advertising ratio. They aim for national levels of excellence in editorial content – all commissioned and written by experts in their fields – not by journalists. A particularly strong design team ensures that each issue of The Bay is a triumph of originality and visual beauty.