Essex: Saffron Building Society assets top �1bn for first time

THE Essex-based Saffron Building Society revealed yesterday that its assets have topped �1billion for the first time.

Its total assets stood at �1.086bn at the end of 2011, up 17% from �931million 12 months earlier, cementing its position as the largest independent building society in the eastern region following the merger of the Norwich & Peterborough with the Yorkshire Building Society last year.

Operating profits at the society, which is based in Saffron Walden, grew by 65%, from �1.1m to �1.8m last year. The society said this reflected its continued role as an active mortgage lender, which had seen it recognised among the UK’s top 30 by the Council of Mortgage Lenders, and increased returns from its independent financial advice and insurance broking businesses.

Mortgage balances grew by 10% to �759m during the year, with an industry-leading arrears figure of just 0.08%, while retail balances rose by 25.8% to �986m, the society said.

Chief executive Jon Hall said: “2011 has been a tough year for the economy and for family finances.“At Saffron, we have focused on providing a consistent and fair return for our savers despite the low interest rate environment, actively lent to individual property owners and supported the communities we serve.

“With many increasingly coming around to the view that the mutual way is demonstrably the better way, Saffron’s strong and profitable performance in 2011 serves to prove our resilience to market conditions and supports the high levels of trust our members demonstrate in Saffron,” he added.