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Southland visits Leeds

Ross Smith, chief executive of the New Zealand based Southland Building Society, has met with Ian Ward, chief executive of Leeds, as part of Southland’s drive to understand how a mutual organisation in the UK can benefit its members in New Zealand.

Smith says: “Leeds is an extremely well run mutual organisation and there are a number of synergies between our societies.

“We operate in a different market place but the challenges are very similar and I am delighted with the support Ian and his staff have given us.

“Although we are 12 hours ahead of the UK in time we are certainly not ahead in business and the competition in the UK is extremely strong.

“Given this, our relationship with Leeds will better prepare us for the future in New Zealand, where strong competition is likely to mirror that in the UK.”

Ward adds: “These visits are extremely useful and an excellent opportunity to look at ways of improving how we operate to increase value to members. Like us, they are a one-member one-vote mutual, which differentiates us from banks.

“It is also interesting to look at products and compare, for example, mortgages. We are currently offering a best buy 10 year fixed rate at
4.69% compared to its best three year fixed at 8.05%. Clearly, the UK market differs slightly from that in New Zealand and our keen, innovative pricing is something Ross was extremely impressed with and interested in.”

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