The Scottish Building Society (SBS) has invested £500,000 to open a branch in Aberdeen, bucking a trend among lenders to abandon high street bank outlets.
The building society will open doors Tuesday on the refit of a three-storey office block on the corner of Union Street and Holburn Street.
Initially, the lender will have a staff of four, led by Alan Chapman, business relationship manager and Douglas Sharpe, NE business development manager.
Mr Chapman, of Banchory, has worked in financial services for 30 years. He said: “It seems counter-intuitive to be opening offices at a time when the world seems to be going online.
Choice of face-to-face or online
“However, given we have thousands of members in the North East we want to ensure they get the best of both worlds – the opportunity to talk to us face to face if they wish, or use our digital and mortgage savings service SBS online.
“Our traditional approach to how we treat our new and existing members is one we take great pride in and this, combined with digital capability, will continue to keep the Society relevant.”
Mr Sharpe, who has over 30 years in financial services, said the society acknowledged the different challenges faced in the North East, particularly in the oil industry.
He said: “We are well placed to assist all types of borrowers with our flexible, personal approach to underwriting, focusing on helping borrowers buy/build their main residence. We are currently seeing a strong demand for self-build mortgages particularly across the North East, one of only a few lenders in this segment.
“Our commitment to first-time buyers remains, including the provision of guarantor mortgages to help them on the property ladder or for students as an alternative to renting.”
Profit growth despite “extreme conditions”
SBS recently announced a record £74million increase in mortgage lending and a record £58m growth in savings balances in the year to the end of January 31. In a year the society described as “extreme conditions,” profit before tax increased by 34% to £840,000.
Society chief executive Paul Denton started his career with the Royal Bank of Scotland in Forfar before being appointed to regional manager in Aberdeen.
He said: “I went to school in Brechin and have fond memories of working in Aberdeen, so this is a homecoming.
“The north-east has its own unique identity and we prefer to focus on customers individual circumstances rather than that the automated one-size-fits all approach of most of the larger lenders.”
“We look forward to supporting existing customers and welcoming new ones. As Scotland’s building society, and the world’s oldest, customer service remains at the heart of everything we do. “
SBS celebrated its 170th anniversary in 2018. The mutual status of the business distinguishes it from traditional banks as it is owned by members, the organisation’s borrowers and savers.