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East Anglia Future 50

Ipswich Building Society boss backs branches

PUBLISHED: 12:35 28 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:36 28 March 2019

Guest speaker at the Ipswich Building Society AGM Tracey MacLeod flanked by chief executive Richard Norrington (left) and chairman Alan Harris (right) at Trinity Park
Picture: WARREN PAGE

Guest speaker at the Ipswich Building Society AGM Tracey MacLeod flanked by chief executive Richard Norrington (left) and chairman Alan Harris (right) at Trinity Park Picture: WARREN PAGE

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Ipswich Building Society bosses have pledged the firms backing for its branch network amid closures across the industry.

The refurbished Ipswich Building Society branch in Woodbridge.
Picture: WARREN PAGEThe refurbished Ipswich Building Society branch in Woodbridge. Picture: WARREN PAGE

Some of the big financial firms have been closing branches leaving some Suffolk towns without a bank.

It was Ipswich Building Society’s 169th annual meeting – held at Trinity Park – and chief executive Richard Norrington stressed the importance of investment in branches and providing face-to-face customer services.

Following the closures of Barclays Banks in Halesworth and Aldeburgh, the society was the sole financial provider in those towns, he said.

He added that In Ipswich and Woodbridge there were now improved branch offices following investment in the past year.

The refurbished interior of the Ipswich Building Society branch in Woodbridge. The building society has pledged to suport its network of branch offices.
Picture: WARREN PAGEThe refurbished interior of the Ipswich Building Society branch in Woodbridge. The building society has pledged to suport its network of branch offices. Picture: WARREN PAGE

Mr Norrington said: “We remain committed to providing leading face-to-face services for savings members and mortgage customers alike, therefore I am delighted to have been able to reinvest in our branch network.

“Over the past 12 months, we have opened two new and improved premises in existing branch towns, and from this month piloting extended hours in our Aldeburgh branch to help address the impact of branch closures from other providers.

“We believe that, as a mutual organisation, we have a responsibility to the local communities in which we operate.

“We strive to ensure we facilitate the demands and needs of the market, and this is reflected in our member satisfaction levels, which have remained incredibly high again for 2018.“

As well as demonstrating support for its local community and service users, last year, the society signed up to the Women in Finance Charter, committing to improving gender parity within workplaces across the Finance industry.

The society’s broker satisfaction rate was also impressively strong, increasing 5% on last year to a total of 87%. The growth of intermediary relationships was underlined by chairman, Alan Harris, as a key objective as he informed attendees of the society’s plans for the year ahead, as well as the development of a complementary digital savings facility and a continued drive towards sustainability.

Mr Harris said they had received requests from some customers who wanted online services and aimed to add these..

Mr Harris said: “It has been an overwhelmingly positive year for the society – we have seen an excellent arrears performance, improved capital strength and developments across our mortgage product offering, as well as several valuable, new appointments to our board of directors.

“As a result, despite increasing price competition within the mortgage market and the current political uncertainty, we are confident that the society is in a strong position to mitigate any negative impact and remain resilient and secure.”

It had been a good year for the society, he said, with an £15m increase in mortgage assets, a £5m increase in savings and a healthy £3,3m profit before tax.

After the formalities the audience was entertained by Masterchef judge, writer, broadcaster and restaurant critic Tracey MacLeod, from Ipswich, who told of her pride in home town Ipswich and Suffolk, and shared stories of her varied career which has taken her around the world, on television, and meeting stars of rock and pop music.

She grew up in Ipswich and attended Ipswich High School and the family had a holiday caravan at Sizewell, she said.

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