Find out more about the Cumberland's recent business results.
The Cumberland takes its social and ethical responsibilities seriously. As we do not invest our member’s money in stocks and shares, many of the issues normally associated with ethical investment do not apply to us.
We recognise that we have an impact on the environment arising from our activities, including the use of energy, the purchase and disposal of materials and equipment and pollution arising from its motor vehicles.
Our Environmental Policy is designed to manage and reduce our environmental impacts through ongoing energy conservation, recycling and waste reduction.
The key elements that are being undertaken to achieve this are:
We have also been designated a Fair Trade organisation.
The Cumberland is a mutual organisation, and as such we do not need to maximise profit for external shareholders and the Society is run in the best long-term interest of its members. We encourage members to take an active role in the Society and we have one of the highest voting figures at our AGM of any UK building society.
It is a key principle of the Society that our products and services are clear, straightforward and accessible. We recognise our duties in terms of responsible lending and financial inclusion and are committed to treating our customers fairly.
As an independent regional building society, we believe we have a responsibility to support our local communities. In the last financial year, we donated more than £100,000 to support local community, educational and charitable initiatives. We also believe our branches are important to the local community and have designated several of our smaller branches as ‘community branches’. These offer a range of free services to the local community including photocopying, faxing, ticket sales for local events and a recycling collection point.
Our staff are encouraged to be active in the local community and recent collective activity has included fund-raising by participating in the Great Cumbrian Run, Midnight Walks and the Race for Life. In addition, all staff are offered a day’s paid leave each year to support their preferred charity or community project.
Cumberland Building Society supports the principles of good corporate governance and, where relevant to the building society, complies with the UK Corporate Governance Code issued by the Financial Reporting Council.
The principal functions of the Board are the development and monitoring of strategy, the review of business and financial performance, and to ensure that effective systems and controls are in place for risk management.
The Board meets every month and in addition, a policy review meeting is held at least annually.
The Board has established committees to consider specific areas in more detail than would be possible within Board Meetings.
Each of the Board sub-committees has Board approved Terms of Reference:
The votes cast for and against the following four resolutions were as follows:
|No.||Resolution||Votes For||Votes Against||Votes Withheld||% For|
|1||To approve the Annual Report and Accounts||21,744||49||40||99.8%|
|2||To approve the Report on Directors' Remuneration||21,342||396||95||98.2%|
|3||To re-appoint Deloitte LLP as Auditors of the Society||21,672||105||56||99.5%|
With respect to the resolutions for the election and re-election of directors, the votes cast for and against the candidates were as follows:
|No.||Candidates||Votes For||Votes Against||Votes Withheld||% For|
|4||To elect Eric Gunn||21,582||147||104||99.3%|
|5||To re-elect Alan Johnston||21,614||130||89||99.4%|
|6||To re-elect John Kidd||21,612||133||88||99.4%|
|7||To re-elect Peter Temple||21,602||141||90||99.4%|
A vote withheld is not a vote in law and is not counted in the calculation of the proportion of the votes for and against the resolution.
Mr Gunn, Mr Johnston, Mr Kidd and Mr Temple were all duly elected.
We will be donating £10,916.50 in respect of our pledge for votes at this year’s Annual General Meeting, to Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer Scotland for use within our branch operating area.
Over 1,000 people came together on 16th April 1850 to form the Cumberland Co-operative Land and Benefit Building Society in Carlisle.
At the time, the main objective was to provide a means whereby the ‘industrious classes’ could acquire property. Throughout our entire history, we have operated using the same business model.
Over a century passed before the now Cumberland Building Society opened its next branch, in Preston. Since then many branches have opened in other parts of Cumbria, Scotland, Northumbria and Lancashire:
|1970s||Preston, Annan, Penrith, Cockermouth, Langholm and Windermere|
|1980s||Keswick, Ambleside, Brampton, Maryport, Pow Street (Workington), Aspatria, Cleator Moor, Silloth, Denton Holme (Carlisle), Egremont, Haltwhistle, Kendal, Lockerbie, Whitehaven, Wigton, Dumfries, Longtown, Gretna, Appleby, Barrow, English Street (Carlisle) and Rosehill (Carlisle)|
|1990s||Dalston, Ulverston, Murray Road (Workington) and Kingstown (Carlisle)|
We aim to be the natural choice for mortgages, current accounts and savings in our operating area, while continuing to be an independent mutual building society.
To achieve this aim, we offer competitive products with excellent customer service through our branches, online and by phone.
Our long term strategy of putting our members first and developing direct relationships with them has been consistent for many years and will continue to be at the forefront of our future.
As a mutual organisation, the Cumberland is owned by and run for the benefit of our members. We are not a public limited company (plc) owned by shareholders who may have no other connection with the company.
By simply opening a savings account or by taking out a mortgage with us you become a member of our Society – and not just a customer to us.
We aim to be the natural choice for financial services for people who live in the communities we serve. To help us to achieve this we put members’ interests first in everything we do, from providing a wide range of great products to improving service and value.
The benefits of being a member include:
Although it has been a very successful year for the Cumberland, for so many people within our region it was marred by the floods of December 2015.
Significant floods have occurred in several years since the start of the millennium, but this year was unique in that Storm Desmond damaged people’s homes and businesses in so many locations, including around Preston and Lancaster, Kendal, Appleby (where our branch was severely damaged), Cockermouth, Keswick, around Penrith (most notably Glenridding), Dumfries, and Carlisle. So many people are still living away from their homes and in many cases, will continue to do so for months to come. Sadly, signs of the damage done remain evident right across the region, notably in damaged bridges and the road network. Everyone in the region strongly wishes to see steps taken as quickly as possible to avoid this ever happening again.
As a building society with such strong roots in its region and a dedicated focus upon it, inevitably many Cumberland members and indeed, staff, were directly affected. Whilst unfortunately having the ‘advantage’ of prior experience of such events, I was nevertheless extremely proud of the way our team responded to the crisis. Immediately, lists were produced of all customers in flood affected areas who had arranged their insurance through us, or had their mortgage with us. Over 1,250 people were spoken to by telephone and where no contact could be made by that route, a further 400 were texted, to see if there was anything the Society could do to help. Our staff were encouraged to use three days of paid leave to assist any flood relief efforts, £20,000 was donated straightaway to Cumbria Community Foundation’s Flood Response Appeal, and we enabled Carlisle United to relocate their club shop into our Fisher Street branch in the centre of Carlisle.
This is an example of what our advertising slogan of ‘be more than a number’ means in practice but of course, for us it is more about our culture than a slogan as we strive to ensure that it applies throughout our operations on a normal, everyday basis, not just when disaster strikes. We will not always get it right, but we try to do the right thing, and to put matters right when anything goes wrong. The trust which this approach engenders - and which was strengthened by our financial performance during the financial crisis and subsequent recession - underpins our business model of operating as a mutual regional bank, seeking to establish direct and close relationships with our members and providing them with excellence in the services they need, whether in branch, over the phone, or increasingly, online. The digital future is something which the Society is constantly working towards and indeed, is well placed to deliver, but without wanting to lose our personal contact with our members.
I am delighted to report that the Group’s financial and business performance has continued to be very strong. A record profit after tax of £12.62 million, 0.62% of mean total assets, was achieved. Mortgage balances grew by over £200 million, 12.8%, share balances by 6%, with an inflow of funds of almost £75 million, and the balance sheet total passed £2 billion.
This strong growth in mortgage balances is linked to the fact that for the second consecutive year, we secured the prize of ‘Best Regional Building Society’ at the Mortgage Finance Gazette Awards, for offering the most consistently competitive mortgage rates during the year. In addition, our holiday let, buy to let and commercial lending businesses had very successful years. The Society continued to draw strongly from the Government’s Funding for Lending Scheme and this has been important in enabling the mortgage growth achieved. The strong growth in share balances confirms our continued competitive position at a time of falling savings rates across the market.
In spite of not offering incentives of the nature offered by some other organisations, our current account services continue to develop and attract more members. Very few organisations of our size in the UK offer these services, and indeed, the Cumberland is one of only four building societies to do so, and the only one offering a business current account, which complements our successful commercial lending operations.
Further details of our performance are contained in the ‘Strategic Report’ which follows, together with information on the Society’s strategy and service developments for members. However, I would also like to highlight here the strides made by two of our subsidiary companies. Firstly, the operations of Cumberland Estate Agents have been restructured to provide an improved service to customers, with in particular, longer opening hours to fit in with people’s busy lives. In addition, a very competitive proposition has been developed to respond to the challenge posed by internet estate agents, but without compromising on the personal touch which is important for buyers and sellers. Secondly, Borderway Finance, our specialist vehicle finance provider, in its second year as a member of the Group, has continued to grow its lending and profitability and has also recently launched a new online system to assist both dealers and customers.
With respect to the Board, I am delighted to have welcomed three new non-executive directors in Michael Hulme, John Hooper and Peter Anstiss, who between them bring very strong and varied experience from the senior posts they have held. On the other hand, David Clarke will retire at the forthcoming AGM having served for 11 years on the Board, during which he has made a tremendous contribution; his insight and enthusiasm will be greatly missed. In addition, on 31 March 2016 John Davidson retired in order to concentrate on his other, expanding business interests, and I would like to thank him too for his contribution.
The consistency of our profitability and the growth in our business over the last ten years have not been the result of luck. They have been considerable achievements, thanks to our successful long term strategy, shrewd management of our balance sheet and interest margins, prudent lending and careful risk management, together with the skill and enthusiasm of our staff and above all, the strong support of our members. Going forward, we will continue to provide excellent service and long term value for the people of the region that we serve and intend to remain their natural choice for financial services.
It has been another very successful year for the Cumberland, with a strong profit of £12.62 million after tax, combined with growth of over £200 million, 12.8% in our mortgage balances, and 6.0% in our share (savings and current account) balances, with a net inflow of funds of over £75 million. You can read more about these results on pages 12 to 15 of this booklet. Also, I was delighted that for the second consecutive year, the Cumberland was named ‘Best Regional Building Society’ at the Mortgage Finance Gazette Awards, for offering the most consistently competitive mortgage rates over the course of a year.
Any review of the year for a business so strongly rooted in this region however, must acknowledge the damage caused to people’s homes and businesses by the floods last December, and which affected so many Cumberland members and indeed, staff. I am proud of the way the Society’s team responded; over 1,250 people were spoken to by telephone and where no contact could be made by that route, a further 400 were texted, to see if there was anything the Society could do to help. This is an example of what ‘be more than a number’ means in practice, and you can have confidence that our staff seek to put your interests first and foremost every day, and not just when disaster strikes.
Many projects to improve customer service have again been completed this year. These include the extension of opening hours for Cumberland Estate Agents, together with the development of its very competitive proposition combining the reach of the internet with the personal touch of a high street presence. We launched our mobile banking App, and updated it with additional features in April 2016. Borderway Finance, our specialist vehicle finance provider, also continues to go from strength to strength.
Our mutual status and independence are crucial because with no demands from external shareholders, we can keep to our well established strategy of providing long term value and excellent customer service for you. On pages 19 to 21 you can read about our Annual General Meeting which will be held on 5 July. Please cast your vote, especially as each member doing so will raise 50p for the Stroke Association’s services within our operating area.
Thank you for being part of the Cumberland success story and for your support, which is greatly appreciated.
Michael Pratt Chairman, May 2016
The Group is committed to ensuring that there is no modern slavery or human trafficking in its supply chains or in any part of its business.
All employees have a responsibility to be alert to risks in the business and the supply chain with regards slavery and human trafficking. Staff should report any concerns to their line manager and management are expected to act upon them.
The Group is a regional business, and does not operate outside Great Britain.
Wherever possible, the Group builds long standing relationships with local suppliers and key third parties.
All key third parties have been assessed and due to the nature of the work they undertake,the fact that they are predominately located in Great Britain, and the Group’s knowledge of their business, it is believed that the risk of modern slavery and human trafficking is low and no further action is required
This statement is made in relation to the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
Chris McDonald, Operations and HR Director - April 2017