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Principality performs well as it supports customers during pandemic

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Principality has posted good annual results for 2020, as it focused all its efforts on supporting members, customers and colleagues during a challenging year.

The building society granted more than 15,000 homeowners a mortgage payment deferral, helping them to cope with the financial uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic and supported communities by keeping its branches open throughout the lockdown periods.

Wales’ largest building society saw its assets grow to more than £11bn for the first time in its history, as it saw retail mortgage lending increase by £182m this year (2019: £499m), taking total retail lending over £8bn for the first time, despite the UK housing market coming to a standstill for the best part of four months in the first half of the year.

Last year the business signposted an expected reduction in profits in 2020 due to continued investment in technology to transform its core mortgage and savings operations. In addition, it also increased provision levels by £9.1m (2019: release of £4.1m) to cover potential future losses arising from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. Whilst no significant credit losses have been incurred to date, Principality recognises that some customers may experience financial difficulties over the next few years, and its conservative approach takes into account economic forecasts of factors including unemployment levels and property prices.

Principality has strong capital reserves but this prudent approach has had a significant impact on results for 2020, resulting in an underlying profit before tax of £24.1m (2019: £39.8m) and statutory profit before tax of £19.9m (2019: £39.6m).

For the third year running Principality has won the What Mortgage award for Best Building Society Customer Service. This is reflected in the Society’s Net Promoter Score which is well above the sector average at 79.8%, meaning almost eight out of 10 of members say they would recommend Principality to family or friends based on their level of satisfaction.

CEO Julie-Ann Haines said: “Despite facing significant disruption and uncertainty this year, we maintained our award-winning customer service and delivered essential service for our members when they needed us most.

“During the first half of the year we had to deal with a number of operational challenges, not least enabling around 800 colleagues from our head office to work effectively from home. The strength and resilience of our business has allowed us to keep everyone in employment and not to furlough anyone. We strive to create a friendly, open and inclusive culture, and our colleagues continue to make us stand out in the sector with their warmth, personal approach and empathy.

“As promised last year, we continued to invest previous profits back into the business to boost our technology so we could offer our members improvements to their customer service. Our enhanced online security has made members’ accounts more secure, and a new web chat function has been added to improve the customer experience. In response to customer feedback, we have also increased the range of products available to customers online.  Our ambition is to move at pace in the next few years and we will continue to invest in the Society to improve our proposition and offer greater flexibility to our members. This will be complemented by fantastic service through our branches in Wales and along the borders with England.”

Principality’s Commercial team once again contributed in helping communities, with work completed on the second phase of affordable homes at The Mill development in Cardiff. The team have now completed £55m of the £75m affordable housing fund established in 2018 and this has seen take-up from housing associations across all corners of Wales. It will continue to focus its efforts to make housing more environmentally sustainable and support house-builders through funding of solar powered and zero carbon homes.

Now more than ever, Principality has continued to invest in financial education by partnering with Young Money for their Fiver Challenge which encourages the development of entrepreneurial and financial education skills for children, while raising money for local causes. More than 8,000 children signed up for this digital challenge through their schools.

On the outlook for 2021 Julie-Ann added: “We expect the economic environment to remain challenging in 2021 and beyond as the impact of the pandemic continues to be felt. In these difficult circumstances, I want to assure members that Principality remains a safe home for their savings, and has the strength to resist the turbulence we are all facing. Our strategy and long term priorities remain unchanged and, while our immediate focus remains on helping members, colleagues and communities through these uncertain times, we are committed to developing and growing our business in a safe and sustainable way.”

KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS

  • Total assets – £11.1bn (2019: £10.7bn)
  • Underlying profit before tax – £24.1m (2019: £39.8m)
  • Statutory profit before tax – £19.9m (2019: £39.6m)
  • Net residential mortgage growth – £182.2m (2019: £499.3m)
  • Residential mortgage balances – £8,175.7m (2019: £7,993.5m)
  • Savings balances – £8.2bn (2019: £7.6bn) 
  • Saving balance – increase is £596.1m (2019: £598.7m)
  • NPS – 79.8 (2019: 81.5)
  • Capital (CET1 ratio) – 27.10% (2019: 26.20%)
  • % of mortgages funded by savers – 88.9% (2019: 84.0%)
  • Charity fundraising total – just over £152,000
  • Employee engagement score – 86% (2019: 77%)
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Aldi launches Jubilee Street Party Fund with £500 vouchers being given away

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ALDI is calling on streets across the UK to enter a competition to win funding for the ultimate Jubilee bash.

The supermarket’s Jubilee Street Party Fund will see it give away a series of £500 Aldi vouchers to help communities up and down the country celebrate Her Majesty’s big day.

Ten lucky winners can use the vouchers to purchase food, drinks and decorations from Aldi’s Jubilee-inspired range, such as its Eton Mess Gin Liqueur and light-up, shimmering Strawberry and Mint Gin Liqueur, Specially Selected English Sparkling wines, Jubilee IPAs and Jubilee gourmet popcorn, giving them everything they need to toast the Queen’s reign.

Aldi’s Facebook page is hosting the competition, with entrants asked to tag their local community Facebook group or a friendly neighbour to be in with a chance of winning.

Entries are open from now until 8am on Thursday 26th May and T&Cs apply.

Winners will be contacted on Friday 27th May to allow plenty of time for them to stock up on all their street party essentials.

Richard Thornton, Communications Director at Aldi UK, said: “Winners of our Jubilee Street Party Fund competition will receive vouchers to buy all they need to celebrate this momentous occasion with their neighbours.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for communities to come together to organise their street parties, and look forward to seeing how the lucky winners of our competition decide to mark the big day.”

To find out more and enter the competition visit: https://fb.watch/db1SIlL-t5/

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Average UK price of diesel hits record of more than £1.80 a litre

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LESS than two months after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a 5p a litre cut on the average price of fuel – diesel prices have reached a record high price of 180.29p a litre.
The previous high of 179.90p was recorded on March 23rd 2022 – the day of the Spring Statement from Sunak.

In recent weeks, the UK government has tried to move away from its reliance on importing Russian oil, following President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Worryingly for drivers of petrol cars, the price per litre is fast approaching the record levels of 167.3p per litre set on March 22nd.

This latest price rise adds another challenge to UK households, as the cost of living crisis continues to impact families across the country.

RAC fuel spokesperson Simon Williams said: “Sadly, despite the Chancellor’s 5p a litre duty cut the average price of a litre of diesel has hit a new record high at 180.29p.”

“Efforts to move away from importing Russian diesel have led to a tightening of supply and pushed up the price retailers pay for diesel.”

“While the wholesale price has eased in the last few days this is likely to be temporary, especially if the EU agrees to ban imports of Russian oil.”

“Unfortunately, drivers with diesel vehicles need to brace themselves for yet more pain at the pumps. Had Mr Sunak reduced VAT to 15% as we call on him to do instead of cutting duty by 5p, drivers of diesel vehicles would be around 2p a litre better off, or £1 for every full tank.”

“As it is, drivers are still paying 27p VAT on petrol and 29p on diesel, which is just the same as before the Spring Statement.”

“The average price of petrol is also on the rise having gone up nearly 3p a litre since the start of the month to 166.65p which means it’s less than a penny away from the all-time high of 167.30p set on 22 March.”

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Beware of fake E.ON refund emails, warns Action Fraud

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ACTION FRAUD – the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime – has said scammers are impersonating Eon in an attempt to steal the recipient’s money and financial details.

The UK’s energy crisis has seen household utility bills rocket following the price cap increase this April, scammers are seeing this as an opportunity to fleece unsuspecting residents out of their hard-earned cash.

Action Fraud said today it has received 449 relating to fake emails – known as phishing – purporting to come from E.ON.

The emails state that the recipient is owed an £85 refund due to an ‘overcharge’.

Action Fraud has said the links to the emails lead to a ‘genuine-looking website’ but they are designed to steal a personal details.

Phishing is a method used by scammers, using fake emails or web links which look trustworthy and familiar, to gain access to sensitive information such as passwords and bank details or to infect your device with malware.

Phishing emails are a very common type of cyber attack and because they’re made to look like they’re from an official source, they’re easy to fall victim of.

They could be from a business you’re a customer of – your gas and electricity supplier, for example – asking you to manage your account or pay a bill.

If you’ve had a suspicious email from someone claiming to be from E.ON, forward it to phishing@eonenergy.com for their cyber security team to investigate, if you’re a customer or not, and then delete it immediately.

Email safety tips

E.ON has listed four things you can check if you’ve received an email claiming to be from us.

  1. Check the sender’s address

The senders email address may look trustworthy at first, but the name after the ‘@’ (the domain) can give you a clue as to whether it’s bogus. For example if the email is sent from: @eonHelpDeskUK.com, this is likely a malicious phishing attempt, as we’d only send emails from @eonenergy.com.

  1. Is the greeting personal?

A genuine email will address you by your full name, and not a generic term like ‘sir’, ‘madam’, or ‘loyal customer’.

  1. Be cautious

If you’re using a mouse, hover over any links you’re unsure of before clicking on them, just to see if the link address looks genuine. If you’re unsure, go to the website directly instead of using the link in the email.

  1. How does it look?

Check the grammar, tone and design of any emails which you receive. Look out for inconsistent fonts, unusual characters and punctuation.

Remember, if you’re unsure, forward the email to phishing@eonenergy.com and our cyber security team will investigate.

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