SARAH Evans has been confirmed at the new chairman of Ipswich Building Society.

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Her election by the board sees her become the society’s first female chairman and one of just four women in such a position among the 46 building societies across the UK.

Ms Evans, a chartered accountant, joined the society’s board and became chairman of the audit and compliance committee in 2008.

Her appointment as chairman of the board follows the recent retirement of Mark Sargeantson, who stepped down from the position after seven years.

Ms Evans said: “I am delighted to have been appointed chairman of Ipswich Building Society. As a board member for nearly five years, I have seen the society respond to the challenges of the financial crisis in 2007 through to delivering its best ever results in 2012.

“I am passionate about the mutual model for business and believe that regional, building societies have an important role in the UK financial services industry for both borrowers and savers.

“As Chairman, I will work to ensure that the society continues to build a strong sustainable business with a focus on the best interests of our members. Our products and services must be relevant and be delivered efficiently, effectively and with the highest levels of integrity.”

Paul Winter, chief executive of the society, added: “We are delighted to be welcoming Sarah as our new chairman.

“She is a very experienced board member, having expertly led our audit and compliance committee. Her commitment to the mutual sector and expertise in financial services is a real asset for the society and our membership.”

The Government has challenged Britain’s FTSE 100 companies to achieve 25% female representation on their boards by 2015, compared with 15.6% last year.

Ipswich Building Society has already achieved this figure, with Michelle Tennens and Sarah Evans have been on the board since 2006 and 2008 respectively.

Mr Winter added: “Female representation at board level is essential to creating a strong board. At Ipswich Building Society we have created a culture that welcomes and positively seeks out a broad range of perspectives ensuring we have the right mix of skills, experience and attitudes towards risk.”

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