Pre-tax profits up by 10% at SWB

Scottish Widows Bank says it made a profit of £33.6m before tax in 2008 - an increase of 10% compared with the previous year.

Net mortgage lending for the internet and telephone-based bank rose 13% from the end of 2007 to £800m, with retail lending at the end of last year reaching £6.62bn.

Total customer deposits saw an annual increase of 7% to £2.73bn.

But despite the increase compared with 2007 levels, SWB’s lending figures have remained flat since the bank posted its interim results last August.

Graeme Hartop, managing director of SWB, says the economic downturn played a role in this.

He says: “Our mortgage business in the second half of last year was down on the first half. This was partly to do with the market and partly to do with lending appetite.” Hartop says the lender’s mortgage book has done relatively well in the past year.

He puts this down to SWB’s strategy of focussing on professionals such as doctors and niche areas such as offset mortgages.

At the end of December the proportion of SWB borrowers in arr-ears of three months or more was just 0.2% of its book compared with the Council of Mortgage Lenders’ stated industry average of 1.88%.

Hartop adds: “We all know how difficult market conditions are at the moment and our focus has been on writing the right quality of business. That’s why our arrears are at this level.”