The Welsh bank which was a ‘winner’ from the financial crisis

photo - deian

Hodge Group will soon break through the £1bn saving deposits mark.

The only bank with its headquarters in Wales, Hodge, was a “winner” from the fallout of the financial crisis, said the group’s executive Deian Jones.

Speaking at a meeting of Cardiff Breakfast Club, Mr Jones, managing director of Hodge Lifetime, said that while there was widespread public mistrust of the financial services sector in the aftermath of the financial crisis, it didn’t extend to well-run and capitalised smaller banks like Hodge, which was set up by the late Sir Julian Hodge in the 1980s.

And Mr Jones said that Hodge – which recently moved to a new base at 1 Central Square in Cardiff – is close to breaking through the £1bn retail savings mark for the first time.

Mr Jones said: “We as a bank have been net winners from that distrust, as people think twice about putting money into big banks… so that has widened our market.”

He also said that the arrival of new challenger banks in the marketplace, and Hodge’s ability to feature in best-buy financial product tables, has also helped to support the bank’s growth. And he said that greater public awareness of the protection of savings afforded by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme had also proved beneficial.

Mr Jones said: “Following the collapse of Northern Rock, the scheme is well-published and there is more understanding of what it means. As a result, more people trust smaller banks and put their money into them.”

Hodge also has a strong commercial lending division, providing funding for everything from windfarms to commercial office developments.

It currently has a commercial lending book of around £350m, of which around a third is invested in the Welsh marketplace.

Mr Jones said: “During the financial crisis a lot of our competitors shut doors and ended commercial lending. However, we prospered through our expertise and long-term view. We held on to a lot of our exposure, which as economic circumstances got better, we were able to get out of without losing any money.”

With a HQ in Cardiff employing 155, its retail savings come from all over the UK. Welsh lenders only account for around 11% of deposits.

Mr Jones said: “We have 33,000 customers and £990m in deposits and we hope to break through £1bn very soon.”

The group also operates the charitable Jane Hodge Foundation, which holds a majority share interest in the group. Last year its dividend from the group enabled it to invest £3.1m in good causes and research.

Mr Jones said: “The foundation is a key driver in terms of our internal culture.”

Hodge Lifetime specialises in a wide range of products for older borrowers.

Cardiff Breakfast Club is sponsored by Blake Morgan, Stills Branding, Lloyds Banking Group and Effective Communication.

Credit: Sion Barry, Wales Online

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