New Vernon Building Society chief executive Steve Fletcher is predicting a strong year for the Stockport-based mutual.
Fletcher, who took over as CEO from the long-serving Mike Hanson in February, has told members that the traditional, but innovative, mortgage lender’s ‘strong financial position’ will see the ‘business grow’.
Fletcher made the comments in the Vernon Building Society’s Annual Review when a pre-tax profit of £769,000 was announced.
“Whilst internal change and the competitive mortgage market meant that gross lending reduced in 2017 and our balance sheet contracted slightly, because of the investments made in the broker channel and in new products, we start 2018 with a healthy mortgage pipeline,” he said.
“I’m confident that the business will grow over the coming years, underpinned by our strong financial position and below industry average arrears.”
During 2017, the Vernon took on 15 new members of staff, including Fletcher, which means it now employs 80 people and is ‘committed to making a strong contribution in its Stockport communities’.
This investment in people will underpin future growth plans that include developing a new self-build mortgage, as well as exploring opportunities in the student mortgage market.
Fletcher added: “The Board has developed a five-year plan to support future growth that takes advantage of our local personal service and individual underwriting approach.
“The programme of investment detailed within it will continue with improvements to our processes, IT infrastructure and most importantly further investment in our people
“Our Retirement and Family Assist Mortgages were both developed and launched in response to changing demographics and societal requirements – namely an ageing population and helping children or other family members get onto the property ladder. There are further similar products in the pipeline.
“We also recognise that the way in which we live and work is a far cry from even five years ago, so we offer a bespoke approach – working with human underwriters – to ensure that common sense prevails.”
The Vernon Building Society has six branches in Stockport and Cheshire, with its headquarters in Stockport town centre and has been serving Stockport since 1924.