Coventry University is conferring Martin Ritchley, one of the most influential men in the City of Coventry and the building societies world, with an Honorary Doctor of Business Administration.
The award is conferred in Coventry Cathedral at 2.30pm on Friday this week for his outstanding contributions to the Building Societies industry and to the local economy.
Martin joined Coventry Building Society in 1970 as Chief Accountant and progressed to his current role as Chief Executive in 1990, at the start of the deepest recession the country had ever known. Martin was determined to maintain the essence of the Society despite the trend of other financial organisations to be cut-throat, and led by greed rather than the interests of their customers. Martin was passionate that the institution would remain a building society, operated entirely in the interests of its members, deeply committed to local people, providing the best deal for loyal customers rather than for disconnected shareholders.
Under Martin's control the Society deliberately halved its profits, giving back the benefits to its customers – increasing interest rates to investors, reducing rates to borrowers, thus returning £140 million to members in the last six years.
The slogan 'TLC not PLC' has been outstandingly successful at driving home its loyal message.
Over the past few years the Society has developed enormously in size and influence. Interestingly two out of three Coventry citizens are its members.
Martin has created and led this outstanding local commitment, and it doesn't stop there. He has served on Governing Boards of schools, Coventry's Belgrade Theatre Trust, Coventry Housing Action Partnership, and of Coventry University. He was also founding Chairman of Coventry's City Centre Company, set-up as a private-public partnership to manage and develop Coventry City-centre. He is now Chairman of CV One Ltd with the brief also to develop tourism in the area.
As well as transforming Coventry Building Society into a major player in the Building Society world Martin was also Chairman of the Building Societies Association until May 2002. He is Director of the Building Societies Ombudsman Company, member of the Executive Committee of the Council of Mortgage Lenders and the Financial Services Authority Practitioner Forum. The list is endless.
Martin Ritchley says: “This award certainly came as a most pleasant and very welcome surprise. I am enormously honoured that Coventry University should have considered me to be an appropriate recipient. I am delighted that the University has seen fit to honour me in this way, but of course, the achievements and success of Coventry Building Society are attributable not just to me, but also to the tremendous team of people I have been privileged to lead for many years.”