“Savings and mortgage balances, membership numbers and assets are all at record levels as we continue to grow sustainably and invest for the long-term benefit of the society,” said chief executive officer Peter Hill (pictured).
Leeds also reported net mortgage lending of £1.8bn, with total mortgage balances of £15.2bn up from £13.4bn in 2016, an increase of 13%.
Hill said the net lending figure will become increasingly important as product retention continues to reshape the market.
“When I was chairman at the Council of Mortgage Lenders (now UK Finance), publishing the product transfer data, confirmed yesterday in Mortgage Solutions, was something I really pushed for. I think the dynamic in the mortgage market is changing. If we’re not publishing product transfer data, observers in the industry won’t be able to get a full picture of how the gross lending picture is changing. Publishing the data will be a major step forward.”
The mutual headquartered in the centre of Leeds also reported record profit before tax of £120.9m, up from £116.6m in 2016.
The savings picture
Hill continued: “Our strong savings performance enabled us to keep growing our lending and focus on mainstream borrowers as well as key segments including shared ownership, affordable housing, Help to Buy and interest only.
“We helped a record 13,000 people buy their first home,” he added.
Hill said the mutual’s successful mortgage strategy and improved underwriting processes have supported sustained lending growth in recent years.
He added: “Uncertainty around the UK’s exit from the EU remains. We also expect 2017’s tough competition, particularly in the mortgage market, to continue and this is likely to put downward pressure on our net interest margin during this year and into 2019.
“However, our robust 2017 performance means we’re well-placed to withstand economic uncertainty, protect our members’ money and keep growing sustainably.”
Leeds said its branches continue to be central to attracting retail savings and completed a refurbishment project this year to modernise and make energy efficiencies in branch.
“We reviewed our network to ensure branches are in areas where there’s sufficient demand, relocating our London branch and successfully opening a new branch in Bournemouth. We’ll continue to consider other new sites where appropriate,” it said.
However, the mutual admitted it had closed a ‘small number of branches’ which had become unsustainable.
Savings balances increased by £1.9bn and now exceed £13bn, up from £11.2bn in 2016.
Overall customer satisfaction remained high at 91% and the mutual also reduced its carbon footprint by 91% in the year to 31 December 2017.