There’s no doubt that an Annual General Meeting is a formality, but for Beverley Building Society, it’s also a great opportunity to connect with its members and demonstrate how it continues to work hard for their benefit.
This was very much apparent at the Society’s recent 2023 AGM as guests really appreciated the informal setting and the chance to chat directly with the Directors & Executives. As East Yorkshire’s only independent mutual that is owned by its members, the firm is dedicated to helping to support its membership and community.
Whilst the Beverley delivered a good financial performance against a challenging economic backdrop, with profits of £759,000 (an increase on £756,000 in 2021), and an 80% increase in new lending, it also focused on supporting its membership by absorbing more than a third of the impact of the Bank of England Base Rate rises for its variable rate mortgage customers and keeping savings rates above market average.
The firm prioritises member feedback and encourages them to have their say at the AGM by voting on key matters and providing questions in advance, or asking them at the event itself.
Karen Wint, who recently succeeded Stuart Purdy as the Society’s new Chair, took time to answer the member questions provided and reflected on the real-life stories of customers showcased in the recent Member Review (sent to members in printed form prior to the AGM and now available on the About Us section of the Beverley’s website) and stressed their commitment to continuing to offer practical, good value savings and mortgage products, backed up by exceptional customer service.
A popular building society of choice for many, with a common-sense approach to lending by supporting customers who may not fit all the mainstream automated mortgage lending “boxes”, it’s the personal touch that helps the Beverley to stand out in an increasingly faceless digital world.
Karen told us: "As the new Chair of Beverley Building Society, it was a great privilege to chat face to face with our members. They told me what they really value about the Society, particularly our friendly, helpful staff in a full-service branch that's open all day and on Saturday.
"It was good to hear that our new 45-day notice account, that offers a higher rate of interest, is proving very popular with our loyal members and is also attracting new customers to the Society. In 2023 we will be continuing to look at other products we can offer to meet our members' needs."
Karen then introduced Janet Bedford who successfully navigated her first year as Society CEO and who presented a clear commitment to maintaining the Beverley’s ethos: “In line with our founding values and Building Better Futures Strategy, we are constantly balancing the needs of savers and borrowers, in order to help both”, Janet explained. “We actively look for ways to help members who are challenged to get on the housing ladder, which is why we launched our property assist mortgage in 2022, and we continue to offer savers long-term, good value, competitive products.
“As a mutual, we simply strive to be as efficient and successful as we can be, in order to reinvest that value back.” she concluded.
The second half of Beverley Building Society’s AGM was focused on charitable partnerships. Members heard an engaging presentation from Jo Ramsay, Manager of the Beverley’s 2022 Charity of the Year, the Beverley Cherry Tree Community Centre, which provides a vital lifeline to vulnerable local people through a wide variety of services ranging from a food bank and youth services to advice on money, housing and employment.
Jo praised the commitment of the firm and the support of members in making a very positive impact on their work and thanked staff for their sheer level of commitment. This consisted of corporate donations, staff volunteering and a variety of fundraising initiatives, some of which funded 40 warm winter coats for children in its Little Gruffalos Pre-School.
Finally Senior Fundraiser, Jethro Shearring from Dove House Hospice, the Beverley’s Charity of the Year for 2023, reinforced the fact that with relatively little government funding, the Hospice relies on the generous support of local businesses and individuals to continue to care for people with life-limiting illnesses and their families across the East Riding.
Jethro passed on messages of appreciation from the Charity’s team and gave an emotive update on how their Campaign Partnership has already made a strong impact with the Beverley’s launch of a Dove House Just Giving page, a Society donation of over £3,000 and a branch Easter Egg Appeal for the Hospice’s Child Bereavement Groups, which culminated with staff delivering the eggs and volunteering at the Hospice’s Family Friends Group.
Team BBS will continue to appeal for public support to its Charity of the Year Campaign throughout 2023, as it joins some of Dove House’s programme of events and runs in-branch activities, so watch for updates on their website and social media.
The Society supports local business wherever possible, and the firm paid tribute to Brown’s department store in Beverley town centre, which has successfully hosted the event for many years and provided fantastic service and delicious buffet that everyone loved. A thank you also goes to Hull-based Sound and Vision for the excellent projection screen and sound facilities, which were tailored to the Society’s exact requirements.
Understanding and responding to members’ individual needs and a desire to give back to its local community is central to both the firm’s founding principles and it’s this ethos which will ensure Beverley Building Society continues to thrive.