Cumberland Building Society balances top £2.8bn

Jackie Arnold

The Cumberland Building Society saw mortgage lending grow from £2.37 billion to £2.59 billion in the year to March, 2024, while savings balances rose from £2.61 billion to £2.81 billion.

Profit before tax fell from £26.6 million to £9.6 million “largely due to the unwinding of the interest-rate swaps that protected the Society when rates surged in 2022.”

The Carlisle-based mutual said 0perating profit, which it called “a more realistic measure of performance,” jumped 29% to £27.4 million, while its balance sheet reached a record high of £3.2 billion.

“The Society was quick to raise savings rates when interest rates increased but was deliberately slower to pass on increases to borrowers this year choosing not to pass on the last 1% of base rate increases to its variable rate owner occupier mortgage borrowers,” said The Cumberland.

“It recently cut rates on fixed-rate mortgages in anticipation that interest rates will fall …

“The Society remains driven by purpose rather than profit and continued to invest in its technology transformation programme.

“It will ensure the Society is fit to face the future, but chief executive Des Moore stressed that technology would not replace human interaction, and remained committed to its branch network at a time when many banks are closing branches.”

Moore said: “We are the last financial institution standing in 16 locations throughout our region. We’ve retained our branches because a significant number of customers prefer face-to-face contact.”

John Hooper is stepping down after five years as chair and nearly nine years as a non-executive director. He will be succeeded as chair by Jackie Arnold, who has served on the board since 2018. Arnold is the first woman to be chairperson in the building society’s history.

Arnold’s career has included being Head of Strategy at BAE Systems. She has also held the position of Vice Chair of Cumbria’s Local Enterprise Partnership, where she chaired the investment panel as they funded and oversaw the delivery of £200 million of projects to develop the region.