Swansea Building Society News

 

Cowbridge branch passes £100M mortgage balance

We are delighted to be able to announce that the Society’s Cowbridge branch has achieved a record amount in mortgage balances – passing the significant milestone of £100 million. We attribute this achievement to our personal approach to mortgage lending and the implementation of a five-year plan which has included investment in infrastructure, staff and new technology.

The branch, which opened during December 2017, reached £104 million in mortgage balances and over 450 mortgage accounts at the end of May 2021 – a very impressive figure considering the branch has been in operation for less than four years.

The Society’s offering of mortgages with competitive rates, and our 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.

The mortgage products we offer 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.

Whilst many cases are complex, our face‐to‐face approach to delivering services, understanding the needs of our customers, and building a strong team, have led to this successful milestone.

The achievement of the Cowbridge branch has also been attributed to our East Wales Area Manager/Head of Savings, Richard Miles, and his team: Martin Lewis, Business Development Manager; Lloyd Williams, Cowbridge Branch Manager; and their assistants.

Their proactive approach and strong networking within the community of South East Wales, in particular, have made a significant contribution to the branch’s rapid growth in mortgage balances by achieving a greater understanding of the needs of the community the Society serves.

Our flexible approach to lending, particularly for properties outside of the standard criteria of other lenders, is now widely known throughout Wales and the Welsh Border area and provides a solid platform for future growth at all its branches.

Richard Miles, our Area Manager and Head of Savings, said: 
“We are delighted to have reached this milestone within four years of the Cowbridge branch being established. This achievement has come about thanks to a great team effort from everybody at the branch and the wider support of Swansea Building Society. It is also a tribute to the value of the Society’s personable, face‐to‐face business model, which enables us to properly understand people’s individual circumstances and develop niche products to meet their needs.

“We are overjoyed at how well the Cowbridge branch has been received, and look forward to helping even more people in South East Wales and over the border fund their dream home in the future.”

Alun Williams, our Chief Executive, added: 
“This mortgage balance milestone is an incredible achievement for our Cowbridge branch, in less than four years in business. This is the culmination of our five-year plan, which has seen us invest heavily in infrastructure, staff and technology. All of the changes we have implemented recently have had one aim in common: to allow customers to communicate with us in whatever way is most convenient to them.

“I, therefore, believe the Society’s success over the past 12 months is largely due to our dedication to ensuring our customers can speak to a real person about their finances when – and where – they need to. It’s something all of us, here at Swansea Building Society, strongly believe in; it is what informs and drives our commitment to opening and not closing branches.”


We top profitability ranking as our CEO celebrates 20 years

We have a double celebration, here at Swansea Building Society, as we have been named as the most profitable building society in the whole of the UK last year – a remarkable achievement – which comes in the same month that our long-standing CEO, Alun Williams, marked his own 20th anniversary at the helm of the business.

The ranking of the UK’s building societies is done annually by Mutual Vision, which publishes an annual guide to the performance of all building societies in the UK. We were also confirmed as the 30th biggest building society in the UK with total assets of £414 million, a big increase on the £370 million the year before.

One of the key measurements of profit used in the guide is profit after tax as a percentage of mean total assets. This reflects the relative profit of building societies depending on their size. We topped this ranking with a percentage of 0.67%, an improvement on the 0.54% the Society posted a year earlier – enough to move us from fourth to first in the ranking.

That achievement epitomizes the steady progress and growth the Society has achieved since Alun first took the reins as CEO on 30th April 2001. Back then, our total assets were only £43 million, and it was widely predicted that smaller building societies would struggle to succeed independently against a backdrop of increased regulation and the costs associated with operating such businesses.

Notably, back in 2001 the Society’s management expenses ratio – a measure of its efficiency – was 1.94%, a number that was high at the time compared with similar building societies. The Mutual Vision report gives the equivalent figure as 1.23% in 2020, a significant drop, which puts the us at 21st in the table ranking this figure.

Within 12 months of Alun joining, the Society was the fastest growing building society in the UK. It grew by 35% in this first year in charge and gross lending was up 48%. Fast forward to December 2020 and the building society is ten times the size it was then with total assets of £414 million.  

Ieuan Griffiths, the chairman of Swansea Building Society, said:

“Alun’s performance over the past 20 years is nothing short of phenomenal and I would like to congratulate Alun on these achievements. He has done an incredible job of safely guiding the society through 20 years of steady and measured growth, while safely navigating some very specific challenges including the 2008/09 financial crisis.  

“He deserves all the plaudits for what he has achieved yet is not resting on his laurels. The society is now reaping the rewards of a number of years of sustained investment in our people and infrastructure including the launch of several new offices, expanding the scope of the business into new territories. Through all this, the society has always put its customers first, an ethos, which I think is at the heart of its success. I look forward to continuing to work with Alun for many more years.”

 


We embrace technology at AGM and donate £2,500 to Air Ambulance

For the second time in our 98-year history, we held our annual general meeting (AGM) behind closed doors, due to COVID-19 restrictions, although members were still able to engage in the process via video and telephone link. We are also very happy to announce that the Society has donated £2,500 to our official charity, Wales Air Ambulance, based on a pound for each vote received.

We usually host our AGM at the Liberty Stadium where high numbers of members can attend. However, for the second year running, due to restrictions on public gatherings, we held the event via a conference call, inviting members to vote by ballot paper, submit questions in advance, and for the first year allow our members to attend the meeting via video and telephone link.

During the event, held at noon on Thursday April 22, the Society also donated £1 per vote to our official charity: Wales Air Ambulance. In the end, with 2,180 votes cast, we rounded the figure up to £2,500. This is the most generous charitable gesture of its nature (based on encouraging members to vote) of any building society in the UK.

This donation adds to the £10,718 we raised for this valuable medical rescue service during 2020, helping it achieve its long-held ambition of becoming a 24/7 service across Wales, and allowing it to keep helicopters in the air during an unprecedented year.

At the event, our board presented and explained our best-ever set of results to our members. During the year we benefitted from supporting local communities by keeping our growing network of local branches across South Wales open throughout the pandemic, whilst ago reaping the rewards of a five-year investment programme started in 2015.

Our total assets, mortgage balances, savings, capital and profits all reached record highs last year despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. This planned increase was the result of a comprehensive investment plan kickstarted in 2015, which has seen us open three new branches, upgrade back-office systems, implement new technologies, and hire new talent across the business.

Employees in the financial services sector were classed as key workers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as government wanted to ensure individuals had access to their finances. By keeping all of our branch offices open for face-to-face and telephone/e-mail contact, we were able to welcome many new savers and mortgage customers despite the challenges of the last 12 months.

The full recording of the session, as well as the Society’s full set of results, will be available from May 1, on our website: swansea-bs.co.uk.

Alun Williams, our Chief Executive, said:

“These are unprecedented times and we have been forced to adapt. Despite again not being able to hold the AGM in a physical form, members remained engaged in the process, casting votes and submitting questions in advance.

“We are also proud to present a record set of results to members, which we feel reflect the success of the five-year investment programme we started in 2015 and our ethos of keeping branches open and our services accessible to members throughout this challenging time.”
 
For the 12 months to December 31, 2020, the Society’s total assets increased by £44.1 million to £414.4m, a growth rate of 12%; our mortgage balances increased by £29.6 million to £302.9 million, an increase of 11%; and our savings balances increased by £41.1 million to £386.8 million, a 12% rise. All of the growth in net mortgage lending was funded by increases in retail savings balances from personal customers deposits.

The Society posted a pre-tax profit of £3.3 million compared with the £2.3 million it made a year earlier in 2019. Although the levels of mortgage lending were slightly down due to the disruption of the pandemic (£67.1 million versus £74.3 million a year earlier) we also reduced our expenses to £4.8 million compared with £5.0 million in 2019. The Society has now delivered annual pre‐tax profits greater than £2m in each of the last seven years.

We remain one of the few financial institutions in the UK that receives no wholesale funding or support from the Bank of England in the form of cheap funding. Our balance sheet is funded entirely by customer savings balances and our own capital reserves built up from retained profits over many years.


Richard Miles represents Swansea Building Society on judging panel at the South Wales Law Awards 2021

Here at Swansea Building Society, we are delighted and honoured to be part of The South Wales Law Awards judging panel for the 2021 South Wales Law Awards.
The South Wales Law Awards has assembled leading law and commercial experts to form the “Independent Judging Panel”. Our own Head of Savings, Richard Miles, will be representing Swansea Building Society on the judging panel and will be joined by:

•    Holly Evans ‐ Solicitor & Academic Subject Manager for Law at USW
•    Hannah Menard ‐ Director of the Legal Advice Clinic ‐ USW
•    Karen Jones ‐ Director of TSR Legal Recruitment
•    Oliver Pughe ‐ Financial Planner ‐ Penguin

Richard Miles, our Head of Savings, said:
“Swansea Building Society is incredibly proud to be a part of the South Wales Law Awards. As an organisation we see every day the outstanding work and service the legal sector provides to Wales. We are very much looking forward to seeing everyone at the gala awards dinner in September.”

Holly Evans, Solicitor & Academic Subject Manager for Law at USW, said:
“It’s exciting to be part of these awards to celebrate the success of our legal talent in South Wales. This has been a challenging year, but the legal sector has continued to provide an excellent service. Given my role at USW, the students see the nominees as role models and aspire to one day have such successful legal careers.

Karen Jones, Director at TSR Legal Recruitment, said:
“I’m delighted that we are once again supporting the South Wales Law Awards. The legal community in Wales has been a shining light in the last few years. The Welsh legal sector will be one of the key economic and social drivers as we move forward post COVID.

Oliver Pughe, Financial Planner at Penguin, said:
“It is wonderful to be a part of the South Wales Law Awards. At Penguin, we focus on protecting and growing our clients’ assets day in day out. We are, in many respects, kindred spirits with the legal community. After the challenges of 2020, we can’t wait for the awards ceremony in September.”

Wesley Skene, Founder of the South Wales Law Awards said:
“2020 has been one of the most challenging and difficult years we have ever faced. The legal community has persevered to deliver a world class service in spite of this. It is only right that we have assembled the best and most talented independent judging panel for the awards.”

The South Wales Law Awards gala dinner will be held on Friday 24th September at the Hilton Hotel, Cardiff. Tickets are available at www.southwaleslawawards.co.uk

 


Technological investment enhances Society’s customer service during pandemic

The investment the Society has made into new technology and adaptations to our front-line services, over the last twelve months, has given our customers more choice about how they access their accounts, and enabled our staff to work seamlessly to ensure business continuity and customer service.

The changes implemented by the Society during the Covid-19 pandemic have, undoubtedly, contributed to what looks set to be a record year, running contra to the negative trends seen in other areas of the country’s economy.

Implementation of our digital service, Swansea Online, was brought forward due to the pandemic, following a significant investment in research and development. We would like to stress, however, that it has been introduced to compliment the Society’s branch premises in Swansea, Mumbles, Carmarthen and Cowbridge, not replace them, and allow customers more options to access their accounts – particularly helpful during lockdown periods.

The digital service aims to strike the right balance between allowing customers easy access to their accounts around the clock, 7 days a week, while offering security, assurance, and choice. It has been a great success, with over 1,700 customers signing up in the first few months.

To enhance speed and resilience, upgrades were also made to all branch internet connections, and customers are also now able to withdraw funds to their nominated accounts via email, post and telephone request.

To ensure business and customer service continuity during lockdown, we introduced an innovative VoIP telephone system, which diverts incoming calls to our employees’ laptops, allowing them to work from home and still use their works landline.

To maintain our commitment to opening and not closing branches, we ensured that all branches remained open for socially distanced face-to-face transactions, with staff working on a rota of one week at home and one week at the branch, restricting the number of staff in the branch at any one time. Adjustments were also made to premises to ensure staff and customer safety in accordance with Government guidelines.

Despite the pandemic, the Society has continued to recruit staff across the business. This has been achieved by utilising video conferencing software to undertake interviews. Microsoft Teams and Zoom have also been used for all team meetings and to enhance our employees’ connectivity while working remotely.

 Alun Williams, our Chief Executive Officer, said:

“We are very proud of the way the Society has adapted to the very challenging circumstances this year. All of the technology and other adaptations we have implemented have been designed solely with the aim of allowing more flexibility for our customers, whilst keeping them and our staff safe in compliance with Government regulations and advice.

“We have been delighted by the way in which our customers have embraced the new technology, and we look forward to encouraging even more members to use it in the future while adding to its functionality. The important thing for us is customer choice. We kept all our branches open during the pandemic, ensuring all our customers could access their savings and mortgages in a way that works best for them.

“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. All of the technological advancements are just ways to complement that service, and we remain committed to our ethos of opening and not closing branches.”

 


Results reflect our support for communities through pandemic

We are delighted to announce that we posted our best-ever set of results in 2020 as we benefitted from supporting our local communities by keeping our growing network of local branches across South Wales open through the pandemic. We also reaped the rewards of a five-year investment programme started in 2015.

Our total assets, mortgage balances, savings, capital and profits all reached record highs last year despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. This planned increase was the result of a comprehensive investment plan kickstarted in 2015, which saw us open three new branches, upgrade back-office systems and hire new talent.

Because they work in the financial services sector, our employees were classed as key workers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as government wanted to ensure individuals had access to their finances. By keeping all of our branch offices open for face-to-face and telephone/e-mail contact, we were able to welcome many new savers and mortgage customers despite the challenges of the last 12 months.

For the 12 months to December 31, 2020, our total assets increased by £44 million to £414.4m, a growth rate of 12%; our mortgage balances increased by £29.6 million to £302.9 million, an increase of 11%; and our savings balances increased by £41.1 million to £386.8 million, a 12% rise. All of the growth in net mortgage lending was funded by increases in retail savings balances from personal customers deposits.

We posted a pre-tax profit of £3.3 million compared with the £2.3 million we made a year earlier in 2019. Although our levels of mortgage lending were slightly down due to the disruption of the pandemic (£67.1 million versus £74.3 million a year earlier) we also reduced our expenses to £4.8 million compared with £5 million in 2019. We have now delivered annual pre‐tax profits greater than £2m in each of the last seven years.

We are proud to remain one of the few financial institutions in the UK that receives no wholesale funding or support from the Bank of England in the form of cheap funding. Our balance sheet is funded entirely by customer savings balances and our own capital reserves built up from retained profits over many years.

We continue with our ethos of ‘opening not closing’ branches, in contrast to most financial institutions. We have opened new branches in Carmarthen, Cowbridge and Swansea City Centre in recent years. This benefitted us through the pandemic as more customers sought a personal, friendly and local service, and many savers, worried by economic crisis, also looked to spread their assets.

Alun Williams, our Chief Executive, said: “Despite the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Society has weathered the health and economic disruption associated with the pandemic during 2020. We remained open and responsive to our customers throughout, which I think was appreciated by many local communities who were also, of course, staying local.

“It is our aim to enable individuals and families to realise their goals of a better and more secure future and the way we supported communities fitted well with that. We provided support to over 400 mortgage members with payment holidays. We also saw an uplift in savers coming to us, some of whom, concerned by the potential for a second banking crisis, were keen to spread their assets.

“In addition to that dynamic, in 2020 we truly reaped the rewards of the investment programme we started in 2015, not just in branches but in talent and infrastructure including IT. Last year was the first year for a while when there was no additional capital expenditure as part of that investment programme, which meant our expenses reduced.

“As ever, as a mutual, our profits will be reinvested into the business, strengthening our capital base so that we can continue to support our members and offer competitive savings rates and a personal, tailored and common-sense approach to mortgage lending with competitive mortgage products. They will be used for the future development of the Society as we consider further expansion and new branches across Wales.

“Despite the pandemic, 2021 finds the Society in a confident mood. The investment that the Society made in opening three new retail branches, refurbishing our Head Office in Cradock Street, and investing in new staff and improved IT systems, has started to pay real dividends.

“2021 will continue to be challenging and uncertain. The record low Bank of England Base interest rate is likely to remain low for a longer period. The Society will continue to adapt and deal with the challenges that arise head on, whilst continuing to deliver a first-class member service and growing our balance sheet and capital reserves in a controlled manner.”

We will hold our annual general meeting in a virtual form on Thursday 22 April 2021. Members can vote ahead of that meeting and we will donate a pound to Wales Air Ambulance for every vote received.

 


Swansea Building Society sees an increase in self-build enquiries

Here at Swansea Building Society, it’s great to see that an initiative rolled out by Welsh Government last year has encouraged more people to consider building their own homes. The success of the Self Build Wales scheme has led to us seeing a noticeable increase in mortgage applications relating to self-build projects.

Self Build Wales is designed to help more people in Wales build their own home. The scheme aims to remove the barriers and uncertainty around self-builds and custom-builds. 

Figures suggest an average self-build house in the UK costs only 70-75% of its final value because no developer profits are involved. This puts that benefit into the pocket of the homeowner. At around 10% of new homes, the UK has a much lower rate of self-building than other countries around the world.

While Self Build Wales support is limited to the schemes designated plots, mortgage lenders offering self-build mortgages are not restricted to what they can finance. In Wales and the Welsh Borders, our Society’s personal and bespoke approach to lending makes it a natural port of call for all type of self-build lending whether it be for straight forward or more complex projects. 

Since the launch of the Self Build Wales Scheme in March 2020, we have seen a steady stream of enquiries about this type of mortgage in spite of the challenges presented by COVID-19 and subsequent economic disruption.

Alun Williams, our Chief Executive Officer, said: 

“We have always been keen to support individuals with ambitions to build their own homes, but since the Self Build Wales was launched, we have seen a sharp rise in enquiries – despite the economic disruption caused by COVID-19. We look forward to helping many more aspiring individuals achieve this dream in the future.”

One of our customers offered their thoughts on working with us on a self-build mortgage: 

“Being aware of the successful support Swansea Building Society has given to a number of friends, family and clients we had no hesitation in asking them to assist with a self- build mortgage for our new family home near Aberaeron.

“The advice and support given by Sioned Jones, Area Manager at the Carmarthen Branch was comforting and made the whole process an easy step by step route to being able to build our home. 

“The flexibility of their lending criteria and rates puts them at top of the list when it comes to wanting to move forward with buying a plot and developing. You remain in charge of the project; with Sioned and her team there to support you at any time you need. The application process is relatively short and hassle free. 

“They have experienced valuers who visit the property before and during construction at key stages to release funds within days. The trust between everyone involved from start to finish cannot be underestimated. We would happily recommend them to anyone and everyone!”


Wales Air Ambulance selected as our nominated charity for 2021

We’re very pleased to be able to announce that our team, here at Swansea Building Society, has chosen to continue our support of Wales Air Ambulance as our official staff charity for another year.  

The Wales Air Ambulance has been our official charity during 2020, following a vote by our staff. However, due to COVID-19, our staff felt that we have been unable to raise funds from many of the activities we would have liked to have undertaken, so would like the chance to do that in 2021, once, hopefully, restrictions are lifted.

Having said that, we have been able to raise a considerable amount for the valuable medical rescue service, helping it achieve its long-held ambition of becoming a 24/7 service across Wales, and allowing them to keep helicopters in the air during an unprecedented year.

The Wales Air Ambulance Charitable Trust welcomed the £5,000 donation we made in June, as well as the additional £5,000 donation we made at the end of last year – funds it said have been much-needed due to the way in which the coronavirus pandemic has limited many forms of fundraising this year.

The Society has also totalled up all monies from collection tins at our branches, which we have again more than match funded. This, along with a further individual donation from one of our customers of £250, brings the total raised for the charity by Swansea Building Society during 2020 to £10,718.

With UK charitable donations falling during lockdown, we understood that these donations would be greatly appreciated by this valuable medical rescue service – allowing them to keep helicopters in the air during an unprecedented year.

During 2021, our staff hope to be able to undertake the cake sales, dress down days, quiz’s, fundraising runs and cycle rides we had planned to raise money for the charity this year, meaning our total should, hopefully, surpass the already considerable amount we have managed to raise during 2020, despite the difficulties.

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

The Charity has four airbase operations in Caernarfon, Llanelli, Welshpool and Cardiff. 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.

In December 2020, the Charity achieved its ultimate aim of becoming a 24/7 service. Alongside the four-aircraft operation which runs in the daytime, the Charity now has a helicopter and crew on standby throughout the night which is capable of supporting emergencies across Wales.

The money raised by the Society for Wales Air Ambulance adds to significant funds already raised for a variety of worthy causes during 2020: £1,000 raised for the Movember campaign; £2,820 raised for Maggies Cancer Charity; £1,071 raised for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal; £1,000 raised for the NHS; £500 for Carmarthen Food Bank; and £310 for the leading homeless charity Llamau West Wales.

Richard Miles, our Head of Savings, said:
“We had lots of group fundraising activities planned for 2020, but COVID-19, unfortunately, meant they were unable to go ahead. Despite these difficulties, our staff managed to raise a considerable amount during 2020. The Society has also stepped in with considerable donations to ensure none of the charities missed out – by more than match-funding all monies raised for the worthy causes we’ve supported.

“During 2021, our staff hope to be able to undertake some of the cake sales, dress down days, quiz’s, fundraising runs and cycle rides we had planned to raise money for charity this year. Hopefully, this should mean our 2021 total will surpass the considerable amount we have managed to raise during 2020, despite the difficulties.”

Mark Stevens, Wales Air Ambulance Fundraising Manager, said:
“Everybody at Swansea Building Society has shown incredible generosity towards our charity. We are humbled by their continued support and are proud to be associated with them.

“2020 has been a significant year in our history, and not just because of the pandemic. It is the year that we have achieved our aim of delivering a lifesaving service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To maintain the helicopter operation, we need to raise £8 million every year.

“During 2021, our charity will celebrate its 20th anniversary and we are delighted that Swansea Building Society will be a part of this significant milestone.”

 


Swansea Building Society joins MCI lender panel

We are very happy to announce that we, Swansea Building Society, have been added to The MCI mortgage club list of regional lenders.

The appointment provides further lending possibilities to the MCI’s growing membership, who take advantage of the club’s improved technology proposition.  Members are supported through discounted and free technology solutions such as the Burrow digital broker platform, which provides a chat-style adviser interface and the eKeeper CRM to structure and streamline a broker’s back-office processes.

The MCI’s membership will now be able to take full advantage of our personalised, tailored, common-sense approach to lending with no credit scoring where all cases are manually underwritten.

This will include our mortgage products that cater for a wide variety of individuals and personal circumstances, including the self-employed, doctors, dentists, professionals, key workers, small holdings, short-term lending, lending in retirement and holiday lets.
 
Melanie Spencer, Head of the MCI mortgage club, said:

“The enhancement of the Swansea Building Society offers pragmatic lending options who assess all submitted cases on their own individual merit, which is crucial for more complex cases including those who are self-employed.  

“The Swansea Building Society broadens the club’s offering to its members while being backed up by ‘best of breed’ technology options that generate genuine value to every member firm.”

Alun Williams, our Chief Executive, said:

“We’re delighted to be working with MCI. Swansea Building Society joining the MCI lender panel will mean that those who use MCI to source mortgages can access our wide range of personalised mortgage products.

“This is great news for those looking for the right mortgage – increasing their choice of available products – and also great for the Society. It is yet another example of how Swansea Building Society continue to expand and adapt to the times, whilst remaining true to its traditional ethos of offering a personal, tailored, and common-sense approach to lending with no computer-says-no mentality.”

 


Swansea Building Society invests in Mumbles branch as it posts record year

Here at Swansea Building Society, we’re proud to have renewed our commitment to Mumbles by signing a new long-term lease on our premises and committing to a significant investment in refurbishing the branch – all as we celebrate the branch’s milestone 10-year anniversary.
 

The branch, which has been trading since 2010, achieved another excellent year in 2020 with savings balances reaching over £52 million. This helped our Society as a whole reach a new record of £386 million in savings balances on deposit at the end of December 2020.
 
The investment seen in the branch included the refurbishment of all three floors and shortly will see an electronic screen installed at the front window to give our customers more information about the Society’s products and services. 
 
The success of our Mumbles branch is seen as proof that our ethos of dealing with customers on a face-to-face basis really works. As a result of this, we have been able to expand our network of branches in recent years to reach Carmarthen and Cowbridge and to relocate to bigger premises in Swansea while keeping our head office open in Swansea. A strategy which is in contrast with the high street banks, which continue to close branch offices across Wales.
 
In Mumbles specifically, HSBC and NatWest have both closed in the area since we opened there, and Barclays is now closed on a Wednesday. Lloyds Bank is the most recent to announce its intention to close its Mumbles office, with the final day of business being 21 March 2021.
 
Alun Williams, our CEO said:

“We have seen a lot of changes to the banking world in the Mumbles, with HSBC being replaced by Greggs and NatWest being replaced by Coco Blush – as well as the imminent closure of Lloyds.
 
“With our culture of ‘Opening not Closing branches’, our ethos has always been that we deal with our customers in a way that they want and not what they are forced to adopt. With all our branch offices having a front-line mortgage manager and friendly and experienced cashiers on site, we are able to deal with our customers on a face-to-face basis, being ready to handle their requests in a personal manner.
 
“By keeping the human touch alive in all our branches, we have found this to be the main catalyst to our continued success as the society grows year on year. We are looking forward to the next 10 years in the Mumbles branch and would like to thank all our customers for their ongoing support which is essential as we continue to maintain a banking presence in the Mumbles area.”

 


Covid 19 – Lockdown in Wales – Important News

Further to the recent Welsh Government announcements regarding the lockdown in Wales and the opening of non-essential retail shops, please note that all our branch offices across South and West Wales now offer a full counter service subject to social distancing guidelines still in force. However, we respectfully request that our valued customers look to continue to transact online, by e-mail, by post or over the phone wherever possible as we continue in our efforts to help keep everyone safe.
 
Where a customer needs to open a savings account, this can be undertaken via the post or by posting documents into a branch office post box as well as in-branch. (Existing customers can e-mail a scanned copy of the application form.) Further information is available at: https://swansea-bs.co.uk/about-swansea-building-society/how-apply-for-savings-account – please remember that if you are looking to open an account in-branch, staff and offices are still subject to social distancing guidelines.   Please note that our branch offices are open on weekdays from 9.00am-4.45pm (Wednesday opening at 9.30am) (excluding bank holidays) and closed on weekends.   For information, to assist the Society in our efforts to continue to limit the spread of the Coronavirus virus, there are several ways you can transact with the Society without entering a branch as follows:

  1. Cheque deposits / Passbook updates – please place your passbook (and if paying in, your cheque(s)) in an envelope and post it in the branch post box – we will send back your updated passbook by post. Please DO NOT pay in cash this way.
  2. Account opening – please place your completed application form and documents in an envelope and post it in the branch post box – we will post back your documents / passbook.
  3. General enquiries – please telephone your local branch to speak to a staff member. Details of your nearest branch are at: https://swansea-bs.co.uk/swansea-building-society-contact-and-directions
  4. Withdrawals by telephone / e-mail – we now offer an electronic nominated bank account withdrawal facility – please telephone your nearest branch for more information or visit: https://swansea-bs.co.uk/about-swansea-building-society/withdraw-monies-fraud-prevention
  5. Online – we now offer an online banking service – please call your nearest branch for more information or visit https://swansea-bs.co.uk/customer-support/online-registration

  We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support in helping us ensure our customers and staff stay as safe as possible.

 


Carmarthen branch staff support two charities ahead of Xmas

Our staff at our Carmarthen branch have been doing their bit to help people in need in the run up to Christmas.

We are proud to say that we have donated £500 to the Carmarthen Foodbank while, for the second year in a row, our staff have been working hard collecting food parcels for the charity.
Carmarthen Foodbank was set up by Towy Community Church in partnership with The Trussell Trust in September 2010 and later became part of the social enterprise the Xcel Project. It has fed more than 9,000 people and has been the fastest growing foodbank in Wales.

But our diligent staff did not stop there. Instead of buying gifts for each other via the traditional ‘Secret Santa’ they instead donated the money that would have been spent to LLamau West Wales, the homelessness charity in Wales that supports vulnerable young people.

Combined with an additional donation from the Society, they were able to donate a cheque for £310, which was gratefully received by the charity.
Llamau was founded 30 years ago to provide homeless teenagers with a safe place to stay. Since then, it has supported over 67,000 young people, women and their children who are either homeless or facing homelessness. 

Sioned Jones, our area manager, West Wales Region, said: “It has been a tough year for everyone, but I am so proud of the staff here in the Carmarthen branch for their hard work and selfless attitude in the run up to Christmas. These are two very important charities and we are delighted to have been able to do our bit to help them.”

 


Head of Savings, Richard Miles, grows his whiskers to raise funds for Movember

It’s wonderful to be able to raise a smile at the same time as raising funds for very worthy causes. So, it’s great news, here at Swansea Building Society, that our Head of Savings, Richard Miles, decided to grow a mighty ‘MO’ for the Movember Campaign.

Popular with the Celts, medieval knights, Victorian gentlemen, artists, philosophers, musicians and entertainers – from Salvador Dali and Fredrich Nietzsche to Errol Flynn and Freddie Mercury – the moustache has, over the centuries, been more fashionable at some times, less so at others – but has never disappeared entirely.

Derived from the ancient Greek word ‘mustax’, meaning upper lip, our French-English (probably Norman) version ‘moustache’, has come to represent that most iconic of male facial adornment, with an inordinate number of comedy and slang names, guaranteed to raise a smile. 

Lip weasel, face furniture, cookie catcher, lip luggage, soup strainer – and many more that are too rude to mention here – the moustache is most often, these days, sported with a certain degree of knowing comic irony.

November or ‘Movember’ has, for the past few years, been the time when men around the world have refrained from shaving their top lip in order to raise funds and awareness for men’s health.

From humble beginnings in Australia in 2003, the Movember movement has grown to be a truly global one, inspiring support from over 6 million Mo Bros and Mo Sisters around the world and raising money for over 1,250 men’s health projects since its inception. 

The main areas of focus for the campaign are raising awareness and funds for prostate and testicular cancer and, more recently, male mental health and suicide prevention. The movement aims to tackle these serious issues at the same time as allowing its participants to have fun – in their words: havin’ fun, doin’ good.

Here at Swansea Building society, we’re very happy, therefore, to have supported Richard in his fundraising efforts by more than doubling the amount he raised, which totalled £440, and have rounded the total up to £1,000! 

Richard Miles, our Head of Savings, said:

“I think that the serious issues the Movember campaign tackle are very important. Us men are notoriously bad at looking after our own health and even talking about it. By having a bit of fun and growing a moustache for the month, I believe we can open up discussions around these topics, remove the stigma and taboo that often surrounds them, and raise funds for treatment and prevention of diseases that claim many men’s lives every year.”

“Growing my Mo certainly raised a few comments and smiles – which is the whole idea. By the end of the month, my daughter thinks I should have looked like Hopper off the Netflix series Stranger Things, though my moustachioed hero is probably Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters!”

 


Swansea Building Society celebrates online success story

Swansea Building Society has hailed its investment in developing a new digital service that allows customers to access their savings and mortgage accounts online a success after one thousand seven hundred customers signed up to use its online banking portal in the first four months.

Swansea Online was launched in July following a significant period of research and development by the 97-year old institution, which wanted to strike the right balance between allowing customers easy access to their accounts, especially during lockdown, while offering security, assurance and choice.

The Society has welcomed high levels of adoption of the new platform in the first four months since rollout. While partly driven by COVID-19-related restrictions, the Society has kept all of its four branches open and operating throughout the Coronavirus crisis, while following guidelines around social distancing, to ensure customers have the choice they need – while also supporting the High Street.

Swansea Online allows the Society’s customers 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 can also 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.

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

“We have been delighted by the way in which our customers have embraced Swansea Online and we look forward to encouraging even more members to use it in the future while adding to its functionality. The important thing for us is customer choice. We kept all our branches open during the pandemic, ensuring all our customers could access their savings and mortgages in a way that works for them.

“Our priority has always been to ensure our members are comfortable with the security of the platform but also still have access to 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.”


Royal British Legion welcomes £1K donation from Swansea Building Society

The Royal British Legion has welcomed a substantial donation of more than £1,000 from Swansea Building Society – funds it said are much-needed due to the way in which the coronavirus pandemic has limited many forms of fundraising. 

The money was raised thanks to the tireless efforts of Lynda Jones, a cashier at Swansea Building Society, who raised £535.50 by making and selling poppies in the run up to Remembrance Sunday. Following match funding from the Society, the final cheque for £1,071 was written for the charity. 

The Royal British Legion is a charity that provides financial, social and emotional support to members and veterans of the British Armed Forces, their families and dependants. With UK charitable donations falling during lockdown, a donation such as this has been greatly appreciated by this important charity.

Swansea Building Society, with branch offices in Swansea, Mumbles, Carmarthen and Cowbridge, has seen the fund-raising activities staff had planned for 2020 either cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19. However, Lynda refused to let anything stand in her way and spent months making poppies before selling them while observing social distancing guidelines in the run up to Remembrance Sunday.

Richard Miles, Swansea Building Society’s Head of Savings, said:

“These have been tough times for charities in particular and it is great to see one of our staff go the extra mile to raise money for such an important charity on such a significant day. As such, we were delighted to be able to match fund Lynda’s efforts to make an even more substantial donation.”

Alun Williams, chief executive of Swansea Building Society, said: 

“It’s a great privilege to be able to support The Royal British Legion – particularly in light of the pandemic and the drop in donations to the charitable sector. I am very proud of the hard work and dedication of our staff despite difficult circumstances and Lynda epitomises those efforts.”


Wales Air Ambulance welcomes our £5K donation

The Wales Air Ambulance Charitable Trust has welcomed our £5,000 donation – funds it said are much-needed due to the way in which the coronavirus pandemic has limited many forms of fundraising. 

The Wales Air Ambulance is our official charity for 2020, having been voted for by our staff. With UK charitable donations falling during lockdown, a donation such as this has been greatly appreciated by this valuable medical rescue service. Unfortunately, many of the fund-raising activities our staff had planned for 2020 have either had to be cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19. 

However, here at Swansea Building Society, we recognised the importance of being able to help Wales Air Ambulance with running costs during this period; unusually, therefore, we decided to make this sizable donation earlier than originally planned.

Richard Miles, our Head of Savings, said:
“Usually we would have given the full amount raised at the end of the year, but – due to the circumstances – we have made this donation earlier in order to help Wales Air Ambulance with their ongoing running costs. We had lots of group fundraising activities planned for the year, but COVID has, unfortunately, meant that they haven’t been able to go ahead. However, I’m sure that the staff will come up with some safe fundraising ideas to continue raising money over the next few months.”

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

With four airbase operations in Caernarfon, Llanelli, Welshpool and Cardiff, 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. 

The helicopters currently operate 12‐hours a day, 8am to 8pm, but the Charity would like to run a helicopter 24/7 by the end of 2020. To achieve this, Wales Air Ambulance needs to raise £8 million every year. 

Alun Williams, our chief executive, said: 
“It’s a great privilege to be able to support Wales Air Ambulance this year – particularly in light of the pandemic and the drop in donations to the charitable sector. I am very proud of the generosity and ingenuity of the staff in raising the funds, despite difficult circumstances. Wales Air Ambulance needs to raise £8 million every year to operate the service and we hope the society’s efforts will go some way to helping them achieve this. Our charitable activities help to bring Swansea Building Society together as a team and allow us to give something back to the areas in which we operate. I’m sure that the remainder of the year will see us raise even more money for this vital service.” 

Steffan Anderson-Thomas, Corporate & Events Lead for Wales Air Ambulance Charitable Trust, said:
“We very much appreciate the donation from Swansea Building Society. We are all working hard to achieve our aim of becoming a 24/7 service, and support like this will help to ensure we will be available for the people of Wales, around the clock. The staff at Swansea Building Society have done an amazing job raising these funds, particularly when you consider the events of the past few months, so we give heartfelt thanks to everyone who has contributed."


Covid 19 – Lockdown in Wales – Important News

The Welsh Government has announced a 'fire break' national lockdown which will begin at 6pm on Friday 23rd October and end on Monday 9th November. The aim of the lockdown is for the public to stay at home to reduce the spread of COVID-19 unless absolutely necessary.

As a result of this, we would respectfully request that our valued customers look to transact online, by e-mail, by post or over the phone wherever possible during this period to help keep everyone safe.

Please can customers only visit a branch if they need to make an essential transaction that cannot wait until after November 9th - such as withdrawing funds to pay for food, bills, or rent.

Where a customer needs to open an account, please can they undertake this via the post or by posting documents into a branch office post box. (Existing customers can e-mail a scanned copy of the application form.) Upon receipt, we will then send back the documents provided by recorded delivery where physically received. Further information regarding opening an account by post / telephone is available at: swansea-bs.co.uk/about-swansea-building-society/how-apply-for-savings-account.

Please note that our branches will continue to be open to members on weekdays from 9.30am-4pm and closed on weekends. However, you will be able to call your local branch to transact on weekdays between 9am-4.45pm.

If you need to transact during the firebreak, you can: 

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support in helping us ensure our customers and staff stay as safe as possible.  


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Unveiling a new range of fee assist mortgage products

Following extensive consultation with mortgage brokers and customers, we are delighted to unveil a range of new fee assist mortgage products for our customers, where there is no arrangement fee to pay upon completion. 

We are also making changes to our existing product range whereby we will allow arrangement fees to be added to the loan where the maximum product LTV limit has been reached*.

For the new fee assist products, while our customers will still need to pay an application and valuation fee (as well as any associated legal fees), removing the arrangement fee, which is typically one percent of the total value of the mortgage amount, represents a change for us in terms of our pricing of products.

For products where an arrangement fee is payable, we will allow customers to add this to the value of their mortgage, even if the maximum loan to value is exceeded, without affecting the interest rate charged*.

The new and revised products are available from October 1, 2020. 

“We are constantly reviewing what we do and the products we offer to ensure we remain competitive and offer our customers the best possible solutions for their needs,” said our chief executive, Alun Williams. 

“In this case, we have consulted extensively with both our network of mortgage brokers and our mortgage customers to re-evaluate our products in line with their expectations and recommendations. 

“The result is a big change in the way arrangement fees are managed. This can be a big extra cost to people; these new products will allow customers to choose which option is best for them and their circumstances. 

“The feedback on doing this has been very positive, against a backdrop of a bumper time for the housing market after the restrictions of COVID-19 were eased. We think these adjustments to our offering makes our products very attractive in what remains a competitive environment.”
 
*Except for the self-build, renovation and Buy to Let 70, Consumer Buy to let 70 and Holiday Let 70 products.


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Introducing a bespoke mortgage product for medical professionals

After speaking extensively with our mortgage brokers and customers, we are delighted to introduce a new mortgage product specifically designed for medical professionals – offering them enhanced terms and a better deal.

The Medical Professional Mortgage Product is designed specifically for cases where the applicant, or one of the applicants in the case of a joint mortgage, is a medical doctor, surgeon or dentist. They might be looking to purchase a property, re-mortgage from another lender, or raise capital against equity in a property. 

This new product also allows our customers to borrow a higher amount against their income compared with standard mortgage products, subject to meeting affordability rules. Sole customers will be able to borrow up to 5.5 times their sole income (the standard criteria is a multiple of 4.5) while joint customers will be able to borrow up to 5.0 times their joint income (the standard criteria is a multiple of 3.5).

The new products are available to customers from October 1, 2020. 

“We are constantly reviewing what we do based on feedback from customers, brokers and our wider analysis of the mortgage landscape to ensure we are competitive where relevant in the current market,” said Alun Williams, our chief executive. 

“In this case, we wanted to develop a product that would reflect the current and future earnings potential of some of our clients who work in the medical profession. We are delighted to be able to roll this product out from October 1; we have already had very good feedback from our network of brokers.”


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Proud to support keyworkers with an enhanced mortgage product

Here at Swansea Building Society, we are proud to have been able to add key workers from a number of sectors, all of whom have played a critical role in helping the UK through the COVID-19 pandemic, to the list of professions that are eligible for enhanced terms. 

Our ‘Professional’ Mortgage product offers a lower interest rate to individuals in a range of professions ranging from accountants to engineers to solicitors to architects.

Now, in recognition of the critical role keyworkers from many professions played in the country’s battle with COVID-19, we have added 11 additional professions to our list of those eligible for the product.

Bank workers, delivery drivers, military personnel, pharmacy workers, mail carriers, utility workers, farmers, truckers/lorry drivers, grocery shop workers, carers and medical workers such as paramedics have all been added to the list.

The updated eligibility list will apply from October 1, 2020. 

“The coronavirus pandemic brought huge challenges for the country and, like everyone else, Swansea Building Society has huge admiration for the key workers that kept the economy moving through unprecedented times,” said Alun Williams, our chief executive.

“The staff in the NHS did an incredible job but there were also many other keyworkers in different industries that worked through the pandemic. We wanted to do something that recognised their efforts and felt that adding them to our list of professions eligible for our Professional Mortgage product was the right thing to do.”


Important Notice Regarding Visiting Our Branch Offices

From Monday 14th of September, all persons over the age of 11 visiting a Society office (Branch or Head Office) will be required to wear face coverings at all times during their visit.

Only those who are exempt will not be required to wear a face covering and we would respectfully ask all customers to adhere to the new mandatory rules issued by the Welsh Government.

Where customers refuse to wear a face covering for no valid reason, staff will refuse entry to the customer / ask them to leave.

Please remember it is your responsibility to now source and carry a face covering with you whilst this rule is in place.

Thank you for your co-operation.


Swansea City continue Swansea Building Society partnership

Swansea City is pleased to announce the continuation of its partnership with Swansea Building Society for the forthcoming 2020-21 Championship campaign.

In the second year of a three-year deal between the club and the building society, the local institution will now feature as the club’s official first-team back of home shirt sponsor and will remain as an official lounge partner. This will see the executive lounge on the third floor of the Liberty Stadium continue to be 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.

“We are delighted to be again working with our valued partner Swansea City on a new sponsorship deal that is mutually beneficial to both parties," said Alun Williams, chief executive of Swansea Building Society,

“Community is at the heart of everything we do, and this partnership allows us to get closer to our customers. By maintaining these core values, we have enjoyed strong growth in recent years allowing us, in turn, to expand our footprint across the region.

“We have been opening branches, rather than closing them as so many other financial institutions have been.

"We feel we are now set on a very positive path for further growth and prosperity, which we can now celebrate alongside our partner Swansea City.”

Rebecca Edwards-Symmons, Head of Commercial at Swansea City, added: “I am thrilled that Swansea Building Society have continued to support the club and for us to have them on our back of home shirt for the 2020-21 season is fantastic.

"Moreover, to have premium Swansea-based businesses on our kit makes this season very special.”


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.