Local staff ‘not at risk’ says society

IPSWICH Building Society has insisted that it will not be moving jobs to India, despite exploring the possibility of working in partnership with a business within sub-continent to handle additional processing work.

Chief executive Paul Winter said the society was looking at a range of options for keeping down costs, including outsourcing some of its processing work, which currently employs seven staff in Ipswich.

But he stressed that all the Ipswich jobs would remain, and that the society was hoping to expand its UK workforce this year if it manage to match its performance last year, when the mortgage book grew by 12%.

Saffron Building Society, which is based in Saffron Walden, and operates across Essex, Suffolk and Hertfordshire, said it would “absolutely not” be following suit.

If the Ipswich goes ahead with the idea, its UK workers will be “up-skilled” to enable them to take on mortgage underwriting work, which will remain in the UK.

“We are not moving any jobs,” said Mr Winter. “The costs of running any business like ours comes from the difference between what we charge our borrowers and pay our savers, so the lower we can get that cost the better the rates.”

In the past four years, the society had been very successful in reducing its costs, bringing them down by 26%, he said, but margins were continuing to be squeezed by very low interest rates. As a result, it was looking at a range of options to keep costs down, and was looking at making a decision around the middle of the year.

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“We are exploring a number of different avenues to achieve that objective,” said Mr Winter. “One of those may be to look at not moving jobs to India, but using India as a means of taking on additional business. Our staff in Ipswich will be retained for the mortgage underwriting.” The society, which employs 105 staff, including 60 at its Ipswich headquarters, had demonstrated its commitment to the area with the opening of two new branches and moving its Halesworth branch to new premises, he said.

“We are not moving underwriting. In fact, it means the staff here who are processing will be moved up to underwriting, which is a more skilled job,” he said.

“I would stress we have not made any decisions at all. It’s just one of the options we are exploring.”

And he added: “There are no jobs at risk as a result of anything we may do in India.”

Andy Golding, chief executive at Saffron Building Society, said outsourcing work to India was not something it would contemplate, but he understood the reasons behind the Ipswich looking at the idea and would not criticise the society for it.

“If that gives them the flexibility they are after at a price they are prepared to pay, then fair play to them,” he said. “It’s not something our board would entertain.”

Norwich & Peterborough Building Society also said it had no plans to move work to India.