Yorkshire BS plots £160m investment


Yorkshire Building Society

The UK's second-biggest building society has announced a £160 million drive to improve products and customer services.

The Yorkshire Building Society said the five-year programme marks a new phase in its growth following a string of mergers and acquisitions in recent years.

The society said that it already has high customer satisfaction levels and is building its reputation as a "trusted alternative" to scandal-hit banks. Its membership has swelled by 6% over the last year to reach 3.5 million.

The investment programme, which includes £60 million this year, will improve the Yorkshire's services and go towards staff development so that members' needs can be met more "quickly and robustly", the society said.

Yorkshire's chief executive Chris Pilling said that the society will also target better online services as more people manage their money on the internet and via mobile phones.

The Yorkshire, which is the high street's ninth largest financial services provider, is also looking at how the benefits used by customers of some of the society's brands can be rolled out across the group.

For example, some technologies which have been available to customers of the Egg brand, which was acquired by Yorkshire a couple of years ago, can now be used by anyone who uses the Yorkshire Building Society website. The Yorkshire is also planning to beef up its high street presence, with four new branches due to open this year.

The society said that a record 340,000 savings accounts were opened last year and savings balances increased by 3% over 2012 to reach £26.8 billion. The mutual also doubled the number of mentions its savings accounts had on "best buy" tables year-on-year.

New lending increased by 12% year-on-year to reach £4.6 billion and the society said it also stepped up its mortgage lending efforts to home buyers with smaller deposits last year. Some £490 million was lent to people with a deposit of 15% or less, representing 11% of the mutual's new lending in 2012, up from 3% in 2011.

Mr Pilling said: "Ultimately, this investment will support our commitment to our members and further contrast the Yorkshire with the many financial services providers which have scaled back lending, closed branches or walked away from providing face-to-face financial advice."

© 2013 Press Association