Pre-tax profits are up by almost £40,000 at The Hanley Economic Building Society – despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Stoke-on-Trent-based society recorded pre-tax profits of £737,000 for the 12 months to August 31, 2020 compared to £700,000 for the same period in 2019.
At the same time, mortgage balances have risen to in excess of £374m from £356m the previous year.
Bosses at The Hanley said the society has been able to look after its members throughout the covid crisis in what has been one of the ‘toughest and most challenging’ years.
Chief executive Mark Selby said: “I am very proud of what the whole team at the society have achieved this year. Of the three full years I have been CEO this has been the toughest and most challenging for everyone.
“In what have been extraordinarily challenging circumstances, we have managed to sustain the operation to look after our members throughout the crisis. Although we have had to slightly compromise on service levels at times, we have kept every branch open and continued processing mortgage applications and telephone enquiries throughout the period.
“The branch teams contacted lists of older, more vulnerable members who depend on cash to make sure they knew how we could help them ensure they had enough money.
“We received over 400 enquiries from members concerned about their mortgage payments during the pandemic and we were able to listen and help everyone who needed our support.”
Mark added: “We have implemented ways of working that have kept all our staff safe too; and sickness absence is lower than the same point last year.
“As a result of significant investment in IT over the last 12 months, we were able to transition head office colleagues to remote working within a few days.
“Our financial strength means that we have not needed to access any government help or the furlough scheme. We have continued to pay full salaries to all colleagues and avoided reducing working hours or redundancies.
“We were able to reward all staff a cost of living pay rise for 2021.
“In terms of commercial results, we are pleased to report near record levels of lending – far exceeding budget – coupled with strong margin management.
“Despite the pandemic and associated lockdown the team have also achieved our budget for profit too; and have taken every opportunity to drive costs down and save money.”
Highlights for The Hanley over the last 12 months include exceeding £90m for gross lending for a third consecutive year – the first time this has ever been done in the society’s 166-year history.
As a result the society’s balance sheet has grown by four per cent meaning it is now 23 per cent larger than at the beginning of 2017.
The Hanley also secured a place in the 2020 Sunday Times Best Small Companies to Work For in the UK list again, and continued to support charities – including Alice, Dougie Mac, Glow and YMCA – with more a donation of more than £35,000.
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Now bosses at The Hanley have agreed to slow lending in 2021 to minimise risk in what they expect to be a ‘tough 12 months.’
Mark said: “The Bank of England is forecasting significant unemployment and slower economic growth.
“There is little expectation that interest rates will rise; it is therefore reasonable to suggest that it may be a tough 12 months for the economy during our next financial year.
“We have the bulk of our technology project to execute during this financial year. To aid the transition we will plan to slow lending to minimise risk; this will impact on next year’s balance sheet growth and profit, but the board sees this reduction in expectations and results as an investment in the society’s future.”
He added: “Whatever the challenges of 2021, you can be assured that the board and all the team at Hanley Economic Building Society will continue to provide the service and support our members have enjoyed for 166 years.”