Coventry Building Society
Coventry Building Society
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Coventry Building Society

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Coventry Building Society

Coventry Building Society

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Description

The Coventry Building Society is a building society based in Coventry, England. It is the second largest in the United Kingdom with total assets of more than £49 billion at 31 December 2019. It is a member of the Building Societies Association. The society has 1.5m saver-members and a further 350,000 borrower-members.

History

Early History

The Coventry Permanent Economic Building Society was formed in 1884, much later than many of the large building societies. It was founded by Thomas Mason Daffern, described as a local bookkeeper. Daffern controlled the Society for almost half a century, after which his son took over. Thomas had been appointed Secretary of the Leigh Mills Company in 1876 at the age of 22, a post he held for 20 years. Among the other interests he developed were as a shipping agent, auctioneer and insurance broker, and he later formed a stockbroking partnership. However, the impetus for the formation of the building society was Daffern’s position as Secretary of the Coventry 178th Starr-Bowkett Society, an early form of mutual loan society. The terminating nature of the Starr-Bowkett showed the need for a permanent entity and that was the genesis of the Coventry Economic.

When Thomas resigned from Leigh Mills in 1876 he established Daffern & Co to consolidate what was now a wide range of entrepreneurial activities. He continued to run the Building Society acting more as a proprietor rather than a secretary, even paying the Society’s wages out of his personal remuneration. At the end of its first year the Society had 128 members rising to a peak of 481 in 1892, and staying at that level until the turn of the century. From then until WWI, Coventry enjoyed substantial economic growth based on the success of the bicycle, car and machine tool industries and by the start of the War membership had risen to 1900; assets had risen from £21,000 to £104,00. Membership continued to increase during the War and assets more than doubled.

Growth through Agencies

After WWI, the Coventry was still a local society in a local market. There was no out-of-town representation and there were no national societies with branches in Coventry. However, from the late 1920s, the national societies began to open offices in Coventry. In response, the Society opened branches in Oxford and Solihull. By 1931 the Society considered itself number 22 in the industry. In that year Thomas Daffern died, having run the Society for 47 years. Control passed to his son Thomas junior; he had been made joint secretary in 1924 with William Heatley, a long-standing assistant to the founder since 1897. The Society continued to be run by Daffern & Co staff who still made all the payments. New management brought with it a change in strategy. Having committed itself to new branches in 1928, the emphasis was now firmly behind regional growth through the agency network. Helped by a substantial increase in private housebuilding, shareholders increased from 15,000 in 1932 to 21,000 in 1939.

Change to Growth through Branches

In the early post-war years, the management had continued to strengthen the agency network; the Oxford branch had been a success but not Solihull which had been leased to estate agents who acted for the Society. It was not until 1951 that the anachronistic relationship with Daffern & Co was completely disentangled and the Society was running all its own business. Both Daffern junior and Heatley were in their 60s and duly made their exit. Directors were brought in with outside experience and only then was a coherent strategy established. In 1953 the Chairman stressed the need to open branches as the Society had been trying to lend nationally but with investment drawn locally. Finally, in 1958 a branch was opened in Nuneaton and then Leicester. From 1960 the Coventry Economic (which had just shortened its name) expanded via branches from Sheffield to Milton Keynes. In that decade, 13 branches were opened followed by a further 28 in the 1970s. There were also three acquisitions: the Coventry & District Permanent Money Society in 1970; the Stourbridge, Lye & District Permanent Building Society in 1976; and the Coventry Provident Building Society in 1983. This latter merger led to a further reduction in the Society’s name to the Coventry Building Society. Assets grew from £24m in 1960 to over £500m in 1983.

Society becomes the Industry Number Two

Following the merger with the Coventry Provident, there were no more acquisitions for another 27 years. Organic growth, helped by substantial monetary inflation, took the Society’s assets to over £18 billion at the end of 2009. One of the features of the Society was its resilience in the 2007 financial crisis: it was one of only two societies that was able to access the unsecured long-term wholesale bond market. In 2010 the Coventry acquired the Stroud & Swindon Building Society, then the tenth largest, operating through a branch network of 22 offices and 22 agencies. It added a mortgage book of £3.3bn. and increased total assets to £22bn. In the course of the next decade, assets more than doubled. In 2019 the society, operating out of around 70 branches, had assets of almost 50bn.becoming the second largest building society in the country.

The Society was awarded Best Offset Mortgage Lender in the 2016 What Mortgage Awards and Best Lender Website in the 2017 What Mortgage Awards. It has a 2-star accreditation from Best Companies and a BCI score of 719.1.

Services

The society provides a range of Mortgage and Savings products.

The Coventry Building Society is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by both the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. It is a member of the Building Societies Association, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, the UK Payments Council and UK Cards Association.

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Head of Intermediary Relationships of the Coventry Building Society
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