Halfway mark: what have we been up to so far this year?
Warning: THE MORTGAGED PROPERTY (WHICH MAY BE YOUR HOME) MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON YOUR MORTGAGE
You might have seen we released our interim results at the beginning of the month, which saw the society remain secure and stable despite an uncertain economic climate. You can get all the facts and figures on our financial performance in our 2019 Interim Financial Report.
Now that we’ve hit this half way mark, it also feels like a great opportunity to catch up on some society news. Our colleagues have been doing all sorts in the first half the year to make sure we continue to serve our members and our communities in the best way we can.
So what have we been up to?
Working together to make good things happen
Whether we’re helping people save or buy the homes they want – or being active in the communities we live in and rely on – we believe life is better when we work together.
With that in mind, the first half of this year has seen some incredible efforts from colleagues, members, and charity and sponsorship partners alike to make great things happen.
- We’re so proud to announce that we’ve now surpassed the £250,000 fundraising target we set for our Samaritans partnership – seven months ahead of schedule! As of the 31st July we’ve collectively raised more than £257,000, and we’re so excited to see how much further we can go by March 2020 when the partnership ends.
- To reach (and smash!) this target our colleagues have pushed themselves to the limit in challenges like the London Marathon and Coast to Coast cycle challenge. They’ve also shown real dedication through numerous pledges and activities spanning bake sales, raffles, tombolas, swimming, walks and runs. Then there was the Your 24 Initiative which challenged our colleagues’ creativity to the max as they pledged to fundraise around the theme of the number 24 – the amount of hours a day Samaritans are open for calls.
- We’ve continued to work with parkrun on our Community Reward Scheme. In the first year of the scheme we awarded over £35,000 to 15 parkrun communities across the UK, resulting in projects led by parkrunners having a long-lasting and positive impact on communities around the country. This year, we’ll be funding a smaller number of larger projects that have an even broader impact on local communities.
- This month we’ve done something really quite unusual, bringing two of our biggest partners together to drive awareness of mental wellbeing. For one very special match we made space for Samaritans on the Leeds Rhinos’ shirts, by swapping our logo out for theirs. As well as pop-up stalls in the stadium on the night of the match, the Leeds Rhinos helped us raise money for Samaritans with a bucket collection on match day and a special offer where a donation was made to the Samaritans with the sale of match tickets.
- There’s also been some big branch milestones over the past few months as we wished happy half-century to some of our longest standing branches.
Doing the right thing
Being a responsible, trustworthy and helpful business is a massive part of who we are. Whilst we certainly don’t have all the answers, the first half of this year has seen some significant steps forward when it comes to doing what’s right for members, colleagues and communities.
- In the first half of the year we’ve delivered on our purpose to help 32,000 more people to save, and 20,000 more to have the home they want. That’s including 6,000 who moved into their very first home.
- We’ve received the Fair Tax Mark accreditation for the second year running – so you can trust that we pay the right amount of tax, at the right time and in the right place. We also joined other like-minded organisations in celebrating Fair Tax Week back in July.
- Our Board of Directors increased our volunteering target to an even more ambitious 14,000 hours by 2020, having seen our colleagues already smash the original 8,000 hours target.
- We’ve trained an additional 10 Mental Health First Aiders across the Society over the past few months. Now as a team of 42, our Mental Health First Aiders are available to listen to and support other colleagues going through a tough time.
- This summer, we trialled a series of events across the country designed to help protect our members and their communities against fraud. The sessions were delivered by our team of local branch managers with members of our Financial Crime Team on hand to answer questions. If you missed them, take a look at our fraud guides for more information on how to keep yourself safe.
- We were also recognised as a Bronze Global Good Company of the Year by Global Good Awards UK, who celebrate companies committed to doing good things for people, the planet and the economy.
This certainly isn’t us done for the year. We’re always looking for ways to improve our approach, and this activity is part of a much bigger commitment we’ve made to being a responsible business. You can read all about our Corporate Responsibility Strategy and the twelve targets we’ve pledged to meet by 2020 online.
Focusing on what matters to you
Life’s changed a lot since we first opened our doors over 140 years ago, and it’s still changing now. So it’s important we continue to adapt to meet members changing needs. One size certainly doesn’t fit all.
So far, 2019 has seen us continue to offer a wide, varied and competitive range. And continue proactively catering to those less well served by the wider, mainstream mortgage market through ranges for Shared Ownership, Interest Only, Retirement Interest Only (RIO) and Buy to Let customers.
- We launched our RIO range directly for customers, and celebrated the anniversary of our RIO broker launch. We also improved the range, and added a new 15 year fixed rate mortgage to it.
- We’ve made some changes to our criteria, offering older borrowers more choice and flexibility by extending our maximum ages across our ranges. We also changed the way we treat applicants with dependents, or in receipt of child maintenance, helping ensure that we assess their ability to pay their mortgage in a fair way.
Continued commitment to delivering the best
We’ve got really committed people here at the Society, who are always trying to innovate and improve what we do for the benefit of our members. With this attitude, and by living our values, we’ve achieved some really great things over the past few months.
- We won the What Mortgage Best Shared Ownership Lender’ for the fourth time in a row.
- We've been reaccredited with a Fairer Finance Gold Ribbon for customer experience for our savings products.
The Society is also committed to being a great place to work, so we continue to support and develop our people. After all, engaged colleagues create a better experience for our members.
- We’ve been recognised as Diversity and Inclusion Award winners at Yorkshire Financial Awards 2019, and Large Business of the Year & Financial Services Company of the Year at the National Centre for Diversity Grand Awards.
- We had 15 colleagues take part in a ‘30 Voices: The Next Generation’ event. This brought together more than 200 people under 30 years of age from financial services across the UK and beyond for an “Ideas Rave” on a range of industry hot topics.
Looking forward, we’ve got exciting and ambitious plans in place to make sure we’re still here for you in another 140 years. Among other things, that means investment in systems and technology, as well as infrastructure like our new Leeds headquarters. These projects are major commitments to future service improvement, which also will boost efficiency and save money.
As our Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Richard Fearon commented in our Interim Financial Report: “Doing the right thing for colleagues, members and communities continues to shape our business strategy and practice, as it has done throughout our long history. Our commitment to long term stability for the benefit of our membership as a whole means we are well placed to withstand economic shocks and market uncertainty.”
Ultimately our focus will always be member focused. We’ll remain secure and stable, and always stay true to the purpose we were founded on. To help people save and have the home they want.