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Suffolk Building Society attributes 11% mortgage book growth to people and products

Written by Suffolk Building Society

4 Apr 2024

5 min read

Suffolk Building Society saw a strong mortgage performance for the year ending 30 November 2023, with its mortgage book increasing by 11% to £727m. Residential lending made up 77% of this year’s mortgage completions, while lending criteria broadened to support niches such as older borrowers, self builders, and expats.

Broker and member feedback

In the latest Smart Money People Mortgage Lender Benchmark survey, intermediaries awarded the Society a score of 100% in the People category. This compares to 92.5% for building societies, and 81.25% across all lenders.

Brokers’ feedback throughout the year consistently praised the Society’s flexibility and highlighted how providing responsive BDMs makes the biggest difference to them, giving them access to genuine decision makers who are willing to discuss cases.

Brokers also expressed satisfaction with the product range available, especially within underserved niches. In the coming year, the Society is keen to develop its green products.

The Society was also pleased to receive an average customer review rating of 4.9 stars out of 5 across its mortgage and savings offerings on the Smart Money People platform.

Richard Norrington, Chief Executive Officer at Suffolk Building, said: “Of course, building societies need efficiency and digital innovation, but what really makes the difference is people and products. These remain the most important ingredients of success in the intermediary mortgage market.

“We can see in our results it’s our people and products that have enabled us to support brokers and borrowers in the niches where we stand apart: expats, older borrowers, holiday let owners and self builders.

“Our specialism of lending in niche markets, and our relationships with brokers in these key areas, have continued to play a crucial part in our achievements.”

New products

Niche markets played a key role in the growth of the Society’s mortgage book, with new products introduced for buy to let, expat, and self build.

The Society introduced the eco self build product range in October 2023, further incentivising all self builders with a reduced interest rate, should their finished build be Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rated A or B. Older borrowers were supported with the removal of a maximum age on interest only borrowing, with SIPP and pension pot values being considered in addition to drawdowns.

Within the first couple of months of 2024, the Society has already introduced a buy to let light refurbishment product, no-ERC products, and has moved into the large loans market. It has also enhanced its criteria by accepting more currencies this year, including the Australian dollar and Saudi Riyal.

Across the coming year, the Society will focus on promoting these products and will explore how it can help homeowners develop action plans to improve their EPCs.

Other introductions

On the intermediary side of its business, the Society embarked on a phased rollout of its new mortgage origination platform, Suffolk Online. The platform has been piloted with one of the Society’s mortgage networks. Suffolk Online allows brokers and their clients to benefit from an improved, and more streamlined experience, whilst remaining fully committed to manual underwriting for all proceeding cases. Suffolk Online will have a wider rollout following a further period of feedback and testing.

Richard Norrington concluded: “2023 saw strong mortgage performance in a year where headlines have been dominated by continuing inflationary pressure, rising interest rates and the cost of living.

“As the cost of living has become a huge concern for many, supporting members has become even more important. We continued to balance the needs of both our savings and mortgage members when making interest rate decisions. We were also one of the first building societies to sign up to the government’s Mortgage Charter. The Charter supplemented many of our measures already in place, and meant customers could clearly understand the options that are available to them.

“Ending the year on a strong financial footing ensures the Society can grow and be sustainable for the future; it can invest for the benefit of its members and pursue ambitious environmental and social objectives. In 2023, the Society donated £45,000 to four key charity partners.

“We continue as a fiercely independent mutual society, with both digital and face-to-face customer service at the heart of our savings model. We also have an excellent reputation and positioning within the intermediary market for mortgages.”

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