Nationwide BS  

Nationwide defends fall in profits

Nationwide defends fall in profits

Nationwide Building Society has seen its profits fall but has insisted this is in line with its framework.

The UK’s largest mutual posted a profit of £977m for the year to April 2018, against £1.05bn in the previous year.

Nationwide said the sightly lower profits, which included the £116m cost of buying back debt, were in line with its financial performance framework.

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The building society added that it had delivered financial benefit of £560m to members, in terms of holding rates more than 50 per cent higher than market average, rewarding customers through recommend a friend and keeping one of the lowest standard variable rates in the industry.

Joe Garner, chief executive of Nationwide, said the building society was providing "outstanding sevice and great value, backed by record capital strength".

He said: "As a mutual, without shareholders to reward, we were able to deliver £560m in extra value to members during the year, as a result of the better rates, fees and incentives we can offer compared to the market average.

He added that the mutual has an all time membership high of 15.5 million.

"Our ‘engaged’ members – those who have a current account, a mortgage or a savings balance over £5,000 with us – also reached a record high of 8.1 million," he said.

Nationwide also posted lower net mortgage lending of £5.8bn, compared to £8.8bn in the previous year, which the building society attributed to high levels of competition.

The building society's net interest margin - the difference between the interest generated from mortgages to that paid out on deposits - fell slightly from 1.33 per cent to 1.31 per cent because of a decrease in mortgage income, which Nationwide said was because of this "sustained competition" in the mortgage market.

Mark Rennison, the chief financial officer at the mutual, said: "Nationwide continues to trade strongly in spite of intense competition in our core markets, in a number of cases choosing to protect value for members through more competitive pricing rather than taking the opportunity to enhance margin."

Nationwide also said it was intending to roll out a mutual service for businesses if it was successful in bidding for money the government has asked Royal Bank of Scotland to set aside to boost competition in banking.

Mr Rennison said the mutual was also reviewing its technology in order to ensure it keeps up with developments and cyber threats.

"We expect technology innovation to accelerate, driven by digital adoption, mobile service take up and Open Banking," he said.

"We are reviewing our operations and technology to ensure Nationwide can take the opportunities ahead and meet the challenges posed by increasing dependence on technology and growing cyber threats.

"We do so having achieved a position of financial strength, good trading performance and demonstrable cost discipline. We will update on these plans and the investment required later in the year."