Progressive Building Society enjoys record year as mortgage lending increases

Progressive chief executive Darina Armstrong said 2015 was a record year for the society

MORE first time buyers are getting on the property ladder, helping Progressive Building Society produce another set of record financial results.

But there is no sign of the reliance on the so-called 'Bank of Mum and Dad' waning, according to the society's chief executive.

Darina Armstrong is confident about the current economic climate in Northern Ireland, but admitted there is much uncertainty ahead with a generation still relying on parents to pay or help with deposits on new homes.

Progressive is the north's largest locally-owned financial institution and recorded a 21 per cent jump in mortgage lending last year to £185 million - with around a third of business to first time buyers.

It contributed to an 8 per cent rise in profits on 2014 to £11.1m with gross capital eclipsing £100m for the first time.

Staff numbers also increased over the year by 17 while Progressive continued to invest in its branch network and headquarters.

The society has plans to continue renovations across its 12 outlets with details of where to be confirmed later in the year.

Ms Armstrong said 2015 was "Progressive’s most successful year to date, having delivered a very strong set of financial results that highlight exemplary performance in key markets, we have maintained a well-structured Balance Sheet and have improved our gross capital position to over £100 million compared to £89 million last year."

The society has increased market share amid a newly confident housing market in the north.

Progressive deputy chief executive Michael Boyd said key drivers behind the society's success included "margin management, the mortgage market has been really competitive for the last 12 months and continues to be so but we've been able to keep a pace with all that.

"Also, we are able to offer savings at a very high rate. The average in the UK is 1.21 per cent, we were paying savers 1.65 per cent on average.

Mr Armstrong said there was no sign of a reduced reliance on parents by young people to contribute towards paying deposits on new homes.

She said that was unlikely to be repeated by future generations but added there was much more uncertainty on the horizon that required prudent planning.

"I guess pension changes could be even more detrimental because you've got all that to play out and people are living longer."

She said future generations of old people may not "have the pension mechanism in place or have no savings or don't own your own home and are having to pay rent into retirement - which is greater than the cost of running the house".

"Society is changing but I guess Progressive supports the old-fashioned view of putting away savings and have that security to prepare for whatever the future holds."

Ms Armstrong said 2016 would be "another busy year for Progressive, next month we will launch an exciting new partnership with Ulster University and we will continue to operate as we always have - as a traditional building society, offering good value savings and mortgage products and excellent customer service for the benefit of all our members.”

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