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Building society celebrates as prudent customers take savings total to new heights

PUBLISHED: 01:00 19 February 2020

The refurbished Ipswich Building Society branch in Woodbridge.
Picture: WARREN PAGE

The refurbished Ipswich Building Society branch in Woodbridge. Picture: WARREN PAGE

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Savings held by an Ipswich-based building society have reached record levels following a drive to attract more savers.

Despite the UK's long period of historically low interest rates, Ipswich Building Society revealed savings deposits shot up by £31m in 2019, taking them to £603m - their highest level.

The not-for-profit mutual - which underscored its commitment to its branch network by refurbishing its Hadleigh branch in Suffolk pink last year - said the sites remained "at the very core" of its proposition, with its branches now the last remaining financial services providers in Aldeburgh and Halesworth.

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The mutual, which announced its financial results for the year ending November 30, 2019, said despite "an ongoing fragile economy and uncertain political climate", it had performed well.

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However, investment in IT, the cost of funding the higher savings balances and other factors dented profits, with profit before tax falling from £3.3m in 2018 to £1.9m last year.

Mortgage completions grew from £107m in 2018 to £115m, but there was a reduction in the size of the mortgage book due to a high number of planned, low margin redemptions.

Savings growth was a priority in 2019, it said, with its strong performance in that area enabling it to repay £4m of debt.

Society chairman Alan Harris said much time and effort had been invested last year in governance and oversight, and ensuring business risks were effectively managed.

"We anticipate 2020 being another challenging environment for financial services," he said. "Activity in the housing sector is reduced and house price inflation is low, or in some areas, in decline, and we anticipate strong price competition in mortgages as well as savings in the near future. However our strength is in our simplicity and we remain focused on delivering only for our members as a strong and committed mutual."

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