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Questions to the Board

Questions to the Board

Each year ahead of our AGM we give our members the opportunity to ask a question directly to our Board of Directors and receive a response.

We publish the questions and responses below.

 

I am happy to vote via the Internet, which I have done, but I would welcome a printed copy of your Annual Review. Is this possible to arrange?
Thank you for your recent comment to the Ipswich Building Society Board as part of the AGM voting process. I will arrange for a paper copy of our annual report and review of the year to be posted to you. Please can you confirm the address to which you would like them sent?

Whilst I fully support the traditional nature of the Society, Covid has underlined the benefits of technology. When will the Society introduce managing accounts over the Internet & mobile application?
Thank you for your question submitted to the Board of Directors. By way of introduction I am the Society Secretary of Ipswich Building Society and I am responding to your comments on behalf of the whole Board of Directors. I can confirm that all questions raised with the Board via the online voting system will be published on the Society’s website following conclusion of the AGM.
Your question related to account access via the internet.
I can confirm that this remains a key priority for the Board and one of our corporate objectives. We are conscious of the need for an online service to respond to member requirements and needs. It is also vital that it integrates with our core IT operating platform and is cyber resilient. We are therefore on a digital journey to ensure that the Society has in place the necessary IT infrastructure to support a digital offering.

When will you have a mobile App and pay outa you withdrawal by BACS and not a cheque
Thank you for your question submitted to the Board of Directors. By way of introduction I am the Society Secretary of Ipswich Building Society and I am responding to your comments on behalf of the whole Board of Directors. I can confirm that all questions raised with the Board via the online voting system will be published on the Society’s website following conclusion of the AGM.
Your question related to digital access and the ability to withdraw via BACS
Digital access remains a key priority for the Board and one of our corporate objectives. We are conscious of the need for an online service to respond to member requirements and needs. It is also vital that it integrates with our core IT operating platform and is cyber resilient. We are therefore on a digital journey to ensure that the Society has in place the necessary IT infrastructure to support a digital offering.
Members can transfer up to £25,000 per day, free of charge to a previously nominated bank or building society current account in their name. Funds are received by the end of the next bank working day. Transfers over £25,000 will be sent by CHAPS and are subject to a charge of £25.

As we emerge from COVID restrictions we are likely to see an increased move from cities to the provinces. Norfolk, but primarily Suffolk is likely to be the prime target. House prices are going to rise and the demand for mortgages will increase - not necessarily 'cheap' mortgages. Ipswich Building Society needs to amass sufficient funds to meet this demand by offering savings rates - preferably long-term - well above the norm. Forget negative interest rates, desirable property isn't going to devalue. Go for growth!
Thank you for your question submitted to the Board of Directors. By way of introduction I am the Society Secretary of Ipswich Building Society and I am responding to your comments on behalf of the whole Board of Directors. I can confirm that all questions raised with the Board via the online voting system will be published on the Society’s website following conclusion of the AGM.
Your question related to the Society’s growth strategy.
I can confirm that the Society’s three year Corporate Plan requires a strong but prudent mortgage growth. This growth is relative to economic conditions and the housing market but will be funded by an appropriate level of retail savings at interest rates and terms that are reflective of the UK savings market.

I am very disappointed that you have closed the Felixstowe branch. I hope this decision can be reviewed as face to face contact is one the main reasons we use IBS for our investment. Why can't you set up an advice centre, say on a weekly basis?
Thank you for your question submitted to the Board of Directors. By way of introduction I am the Society Secretary of Ipswich Building Society and I am responding to your comments on behalf of the whole Board of Directors. I can confirm that all questions raised with the Board via the online voting system will be published on the Society’s website following conclusion of the AGM.
Your comment related to the closure of the Society’s Felixstowe Agency.
In 2020, unfortunately, and after much careful consideration, the Society made the decision to close our Felixstowe Agency. The majority of our members who used the service have continued to visit us at one of our other nearby branches in particular, Woodbridge or Ravenswood. It is unlikely that the Society will revisit the decision to reopen the agency, however we are committed to maintaining a face to face presence for our members and we are open to ideas as to how that might be achieved in the future. Of course, members are always welcome to contact us with any query or advice either at any of our branches or in the normal way via telephone, email or in writing.

Does the Board intend to introduce negative interest rates for savers? If so, when would this happen? I understand the difficult time ahead for the financial institutions but it is also an impossible time for savers with modest means. Surely if savers keep their money with building societies they should be rewarded in some way, even if interest rates are incredibly low, as at present.
Thank you for your question submitted to the Board of Directors. By way of introduction I am the Society Secretary of Ipswich Building Society and I am responding to your comments on behalf of the whole Board of Directors. I can confirm that all questions raised with the Board via the online voting system will be published on the Society’s website following conclusion of the AGM.
Your question related to negative interest rates.
We constantly review the products and rates we offer for both mortgages and savings very carefully as part of our overall corporate strategy. In the event of negative bank rates, whilst we have no intention to charge savers at the moment, we along with other financial institutions would review the market conditions at the time.

I must comment that I think that it is a complete mistake on the part of the board to allow a meeting where members are not represented or allowed to participate within and...
How can you put an amendment forward to support a virtual meeting, after the fact of a virtual meeting?

Will all questions and their answers appear on the website even if an email address has been given for a direct response?
We are sorry that you object to the format of the Society’s AGM this year. Of course, as a member led organisation the Society is incredibly keen for members to have their say in Society matters. That is why we are actively encouraging members to submit questions or comments to the Board in advance. Responses to these questions and comments will feature very highly in the content of the AGM recording. In addition, individual responses will be provided to the member by email, when an email address is provided.
We are aware that a number of organisations have made significant investment in technology and software to enable real time involvement of members in their AGM. The Society did consider this as an option for 2021. However, we were careful to balance the need to uphold strong corporate governance with the need to ensure members’ funds are put to the best use for the future sustainability of the Society. Of course, we will keep this under review.
When will the society offer online access to our accounts please?
This remains a key priority for the Board and one of our corporate objectives. We are conscious of the need for an online service to respond to member requirements and needs. It is also vital that it integrates with our core IT operating platform and is cyber resilient. We are therefore on a digital journey to ensure that the Society has in place the necessary IT infrastructure to support a digital offering.

I am very satisfied with the service that the Building Society provides; I am also pleased to be part of a proper local Building Society.
With the situation over the last year would the Society look at Online access to our personal accounts.
I know at the previous AGM the society is passionate about keeping it’s Branch identity with it’s customers, but being unable to come to a branch it would be nice to be able just to view my own balance.
This remains a key priority for the Board and one of our corporate objectives. We are conscious of the need for an online service to respond to member requirements and needs. It is also vital that it integrates with our core IT operating platform and is cyber resilient. We are therefore on a digital journey to ensure that the Society has in place the necessary IT infrastructure to support a digital offering.

I would like to be able to deposit by post - is that possible?
Thank you for your question submitted to the Board of Directors. By way of introduction I am the Society Secretary of Ipswich Building Society and I am responding to your comments on behalf of the whole Board of Directors. I can confirm that all questions raised with the Board via the online voting system will be published on the Society’s website following conclusion of the AGM.
Your question related to the ability to deposit by post.
The Society accepts cheque deposits by post. A member can include their passbook for updating or will be sent a receipt, with the passbook being updated when they next visit their local branch.

House prices in much of coastal Suffolk and villages such as Lavenham are becoming unaffordable for young local residents. Can more be done to support Suffolk residents in buying a home in their own county?
The Society continues to lend to first time buyers with a limited deposit through its 90% loan to value product. The Society has for a number of years accepted gifted deposits for first time buyers where parents (or other family members) want to gift a deposit to their children to assist them in purchasing a property. We also providing mortgage products that allow parents to release equity form properties to gift to children. The Society also has continued to lend in the Shared Ownership market supporting those members on restricted incomes looking to purchase an affordable property.

Can you assure us that once covid-19 restrictions are over we will go back to meetings in person.
Also I have heard from several people that you have been far stricter during the pandemic with regards to issuing mortgages, with a loss of business, why is this please?
Thank you for your question submitted to the Board of Directors. By way of introduction I am the Society Secretary of Ipswich Building Society and I am responding to your comments on behalf of the whole Board of Directors. I can confirm that all questions raised with the Board via the online voting system will be published on the Society’s website following conclusion of the AGM. Your question related to face to face contact and also whether there had been any changes to the Society’s lending criteria. Firstly, the Society's branch network is very much looking forward to reopening for face to face appointments as soon as we are able. In relation to the second point in your question, the Society adapted its criteria to the changing landscape of the Covid-19 pandemic, like most other lenders. This was to ensure that the Society continued to lend but in a prudent manner. We utilised the skills and expertise of the Society mortgage underwriters and our manual underwriting process. During the financial year the Society achieved gross mortgage lending of £123.8m and net mortgage lending of £45.5m, whilst maintaining a record mortgage pipeline of £87.5m at year end.

Have any changes in mortgage lending to overseas residents been made as a result of Brexit? I am interested as I now live in Sweden
Thank you for your question submitted to the Board of Directors. By way of introduction I am the Society Secretary of Ipswich Building Society and I am responding to your comments on behalf of the whole Board of Directors. I can confirm that all questions raised with the Board via the online voting system will be published on the Society’s website following conclusion of the AGM.
Your question related to the mortgage lending overseas.
I can confirm that the Society is monitoring the progress of the Memorandum of Understanding for financial services between the UK and the EU. If an agreement cannot reached the Society will need to consider the impact this will have on the Society’s ability to service those UK members who live in an EU member state and therefore whether it can continue its mortgage lending. The Society is hopeful that a satisfactory agreement can be reached and therefore is currently continuing to lend to UK applicants who reside in an EU member state.

Schedule 14 of the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2000 permits an AGM to take place without Members attending "in person" Schedule 14 para 6. However para 8 says that the provisions of the constitution gave effect subject to this paragraph. Question- please will the board confirm that despite no means having been put in place for live distant attendance, the AGM is valid in accordance with the constitution or rules of the Society as varied by the 2020 Act and that all resolutions -including special resolutions purported to be passed are valid.
Thank you for your question to the Board, submitted as part of the AGM voting process. I am aware that we have corresponded on this subject previously.
Your question related to the validity of the Society’s AGM. I can confirm that the Society’s constitution does not expressly prevent any the measures included in the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2000 and that the Society’s AGM will be valid under that legislation.

For the attention of Elaine Lenc, Non-Executive Director Ipswich Building Society, re the Annual Report.
Dear Ms Lenc,
I am writing as a member of Ipswich Building Society about the Directors’ Remuneration Report in the Society’s annual accounts.
I have a few questions for you regarding directors’ remuneration, which I hope you don’t mind me putting to you. They are as follows:
- the remuneration report seemed to be a policy statement rather than a report and I wonder if you could tell me why the Chief Executive warrants a salary of £227,000? That is the equivalent of ten newly qualified nurses. I am sure there are really good reasons for this salary, and I am not challenging his payment, but I would really like to hear from you why he is worth this sum.
- I wonder if in these post Covid days whether the composition of the Remuneration Committee is too narrow and whether it might be extended to include a member and also a front line member of staff, too? This might give it more balance.
- I wonder if you have a comment to make about the society’s choice of auditors, BDO? This company only repaid the government furlough money after a public outcry given the eye watering salaries of its partners. I remain to be convinced that the ethics of BDO are commensurate with those of a community-based building society. I have contacted them twice asking about executive pay but they have not bothered to answer my questions.
As you can see, my comments and questions all relate to executive pay and I feel that the building society needs to consider this whole issue rather more deeply and sensitively than it currently does. The gap between haves and have nots in society is growing and for an organisation so rooted in the community I really hope that we see new initiatives coming from non executive directors such as yourself to acknowledge this issue.
Thank you for your question submitted to Elaine Lenc, Chairman of the Remuneration Committee. By way of introduction I am the Society Secretary of Ipswich Building Society and I am responding to your comments on behalf of Elaine and the whole Board of Directors. I can confirm that all questions raised to the Board via the online voting system will be published on the Society’s website following conclusion of the AGM.
The Remuneration Committee considers executive pay across a multitude of factors and in depth before making decisions. The salary awarded to the Chief Executive Officer reflects the overall benchmarking of responsibilities afforded to the CEO of a modern financial services firm. The Society exercises the highest quality standards in relation to recruitment, for which competition is fierce. We have recent market experience in recruitment of senior executives which confirms our market position. The Society is happy that the overall remuneration package for the CEO is absolutely consistent with the current market rates for such roles and has recently conducted an external benchmarking.
I can confirm that the current composition of the Remuneration Committee is comprised solely of Non-Executive Directors (who are also members of the Society) with a wide range of skills and experience to provide sufficient cognitive diversity.
The Society recently changed external auditors as a result of a re-tendering process. BDO audit a number of comparable societies and we have been happy with the service they have provided since their date of appointment. BDO's decision to initially retain and then subsequently return furlough payments received was a commercial decision for them, and I understand that they have now responded to your enquiries.

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