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Half-year results announcement for the six months to 30 September 2021

The West Brom today announces its results for the six months to 30 September 2021.

The West Brom today announces its results for the six months to 30 September 2021.

Key highlights:

  • £479m of new mortgage lending (30 September 2020: £248m), with £123m of new mortgages to first-time buyers (30 September 2020: £102m).
  • Statutory profit before tax of £14.6m (30 September 2020: £2.9m) driven by higher net interest income and fair value gains and lower impairment requirements.
  • Rewarded savers with rates that were, on average 98% above those paid by the market1 for the period.
  • Capital position remains strong with the Common Equity Tier 1 (CET 1) capital ratio of 16.3% (31 March 2021: 16.4%).
  • Improved Net Promotor Score®2 to +80 from +76 at March 2021, with customer satisfaction maintained at 96%.
  • Recognition in three categories of the Moneyfacts 2021 awards including Winner of Best Building Society Mortgage Provider, Highly Commended Best Fixed Rate Mortgage Provider and Commended Innovation in Personal Finance for the Modified Affordability proposition.

Jonathan Westhoff, Chief Executive, commented:

It is pleasing to be able report a strong half-year performance, despite much of the period continuing to be dominated by the pandemic and the knock on impact on our members, colleagues and communities. Whilst we are optimistic about the economic outlook and better days are seemingly coming, there are still challenges ahead and we remain committed to delivering our Purpose through three guiding principles:

  • Prioritising the wellbeing of our members, colleagues and communities;
  • Ensuring our products, services and premises are safe and accessible;
  • Remaining operationally and financially resilient.

Prioritising the wellbeing of our members, colleagues and communities

Members

New lending performance has been supported by very competitive purchase and remortgage products, with £479m of new mortgage lending (30 September 2020: £248m), including the reintroduction of high LTV products up to 95%.

In the first six months of the year, we have helped a further 814 first-time buyers, who are very much at the heart of our Purpose (30 September 2020: 699).

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we continued to deliver our Purpose of supporting home ownership, and maintained our high service standards, resulting in us being recognised as the Best Building Society Mortgage Provider at the Moneyfacts awards 2021.

With Bank of England Base Rate at an all-time low of 0.10%, the Society has continued to support savers as much as possible. During the first six months of the year the Society paid rates 98% (30 September 2020: 17%) above the market average1. This means that during this period, the Society has paid an additional annualised £8.8m (30 September 2020: £2.6m) in interest. We also welcomed 2,877 new savers (30 September 2020: 1,380).

The Society adopts a compassionate, fair and flexible approach towards borrowers who are unable to meet their payments. At 30 September, Group arrears for the core residential book stood at 0.34% (31 March 2021: 0.43%) which continues to compare favourably against the UK Finance average of 0.78% (31 March 2021: 0.85%).

We are also continuing to offer support to any borrowers struggling to meet their payments in the current climate, and we understand the impacts of events like the pandemic are often felt hardest amongst the most vulnerable. We take proactive action that is tailored to members’ individual needs, and provide on-going training to colleagues to ensure this remains the case. We have recently signed up to the IEP Debt Code of Best Practice for Debt Collection and Recovery, an initiative launched by the Inclusive Economy Partnership, to ensure all consumers with low financial resilience are treated fairly and consistently across all sectors.

Colleagues

We supported colleagues throughout the pandemic in a number of ways, including providing physical and mental wellbeing initiatives, and adapted our working model to meet government guidelines during the various lockdowns. We are now in a position to use these learnings to reimagine the way we work to better support our colleagues and service our members in the future. We have set up a ‘Hybrid Working Group’ with colleagues from across the business, with a focus on shaping our new ways of working. We continue to engage both with our Employee and Member Councils to ensure the new model delivers the needs of our colleagues and members.

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace, including gender and BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) representation, remains a top priority. We recently published the Society’s first Ethnicity Pay Gap report on a voluntary basis, and were one of the few companies in financial services to do so, to achieve better transparency and drive the diversity agenda. Using similar methodology to the Gender Pay Gap report, it is pleasing to see that the Society’s ethnicity pay gap statistics and representation across all levels of the Society are in a strong position, however, we acknowledge there is still more work to be done.

Communities

As a mutual, supporting the communities in which we operate is a core part of our ethos. In the first six months of the year, we announced our new charity partnership with Barnardo’s, which is closely linked to our Purpose. Over the next two years, the Society is looking to provide £500,000 for the development of four ‘Gap Homes’ using the Dormant Accounts Scheme, to support Barnardo’s mission to provide accommodation for vulnerable young people leaving the care system in the Black Country area. Colleagues also supported local charities such as food banks, local health services and took part in ‘The Great British Spring Clean’. In addition, a further £36,000 was raised for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity through the Red Balloon Appeal Account, a special savings product designed to benefit both customers and the hospital.

Ensuring the Society’s products, services and premises are safe and accessible

In the first six months of the year, we continued our commitment to supporting mortgage prisoners. These borrowers have been trapped paying higher interest rates following the financial crisis in 2008, due to being unable to remortgage to cheaper deals as they didn’t meet the affordability criteria. In September 2020, we were the first lender to adopt the new FCA modified affordability rules by developing products to support mortgage prisoners, and our efforts led to greater public awareness of the issue and other lenders followed suit.

We recently extended our offering to help mortgage prisoners by introducing products up to 85% LTV, providing the most comprehensive options to help these borrowers in the current market. As a result of our efforts, the Society was commended in the Innovation in Personal Finance category for our Modified Affordability proposition at the Moneyfacts 2021 awards.

Remaining operationally and financially resilient

Throughout the pandemic, we continued to operate as a financially secure and resilient building society. Our performance and results are a further reflection of that. The Society has reported an increased level of profit before tax, at £14.6m (30 September 2020: £2.9m) which maintains our Common Equity Tier 1 ratio (CET 1), a key measure of financial resilience, at 16.3% (31 March 2021: 16.4%). As a comparison, during the financial crisis in 2008/2009, the Society’s CET 1 ratio was at 6.8%, demonstrating the capital that has been built up to cope with economic shocks.

We adapted well to the operational challenges presented by the pandemic and continued to provide the level of service that our customers expect and our branch network remained open throughout. I am proud to say that our colleagues have maintained our commitment to outstanding customer service. The Society’s Net Promoter Score®2 (NPS), which measures how likely our members are to recommend us, has increased to +80 (31 March 2021: +76), well in excess of the average across financial services of +50, with our customer satisfaction rating maintained at 96% (31 March 2021: 96%). These results are testament to our colleagues’ commitment to work flexibly during the pandemic and reflects the customer-centred approach adopted by our colleagues.

Looking Ahead

As we come to the end of another reporting cycle in the seemingly ‘post-pandemic’ environment, I continue to be extremely proud of all the efforts of my colleagues and the determination to ensure the Society delivers and remains focused on its Purpose. As we move into the second half of the year, we have a cautiously optimistic outlook whilst remaining aware of the potential challenges ahead, which are supported by our strong capital position to weather any future storms. We will continue on our journey of adopting hybrid working and modernising our services to best support our saving and borrowing members, as well as our colleagues, in this new environment.

1 Average market rates sourced from Bank of England Bankstats table A6.1

2 Net Promoter Score and NPS are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc., and Fred Reichheld. The Net Promoter Score is a measure of how likely our customers are to recommend us.

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Email: pr@westbrom.co.uk

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