My name is Steve Hughes and I recently took over as Chief Executive of Coventry Building Society after a 30 year career spanning car manufacturing, consumer goods and financial services. I’m joining the Society at a time of national crisis that is affecting all of us, our communities and those we care about. I want to share some of the things we’re doing to keep everyone safe whilst still providing the best possible service.
First of all, though, I’d like to take a moment to thank every key worker in the UK for everything they’re doing for us. We are right to think of the courage and care of NHS staff and social care workers, but also all the other critical workers, whose spirit and hard work have been fantastic to see.
We are part of this – our services are regarded as essential to our members. Our Customer Service Centre and over 90% of our branches are open and have been throughout. Keeping our members and colleagues safe is very important. More than 1,500 colleagues are working from home, and strict social distancing is in place across our offices and branches, with the screens, barriers and queueing systems that are becoming so familiar. The Coventry team is doing an incredible job, and I cannot praise or thank them enough.
We’ve supported around 270,000 members
I also want to thank you, our members, for your patience, respect and understanding. Since lockdown started, we’ve seen a huge increase in people using our Online Services, but we’ve also served around 270,000 members who’ve needed to use our branches or talk to us over the phone – that’s thousands of transactions every day. It’s not always been perfect but we’re tackling the new challenges together.
We’ve granted thousands of mortgage payment holidays
So far we’ve granted many thousands of payment holidays on mortgages, most for three months. These will help make an incredibly difficult time a little bit easier for many of our members.
Like me, you probably have loved ones you’re not able to see and your mind is constantly drawn to those you care about. Caring for members has never been more important, too. We’ve started contacting members we haven’t seen for a while, just to check they’re doing ok.
A safe, secure place for savers and borrowers
As well as the obvious concerns for health, the economic impact of lockdown is a worry for many. It has also meant we’ve had to make some tough decisions on savings and mortgage rates. Every decision we make is focused on the long-term security of the Society and our ability to be here for our members in good times as well as bad. Managing the competing needs of savers, borrowers and those in financial difficulty is something we will do in a balanced way, with a focus on the long term. More than ever before, security and peace of mind is what is needed and I can reassure you that the Society remains a safe and secure place for savers and borrowers.
Stay safe and well
Please do stay safe, stay well and take care of those you love. Thank you again for your patience, for only using branches when you need to and respecting the safety measures we have in place, and for keeping our phone lines free for those who need us most. As a building society we are owned by a community of members. The words ‘community’ and ‘society’ have never felt more important or mattered more.
Chief Executive, Coventry Building Society