kerr donald

Leicester-headquartered Cambridge & Counties Bank registered its highest ever level of gross new lending in 2023 at £328 million, up 6% year-on-year, highlighting the bank’s continued support for SMEs, entrepreneurs, and professional property investors in the UK.

The bank’s fast-growing asset finance business experienced record customer drawdowns and net book growth, with exposures up 17% to £83 million.

Dedicated finance for the purchase of classic, vintage and sports cars increased 18% to £51 million.

Overall, total customer loan balances increased 5% to £1.106 billion while customer deposits rose to £1.155 billion, also up 5%. The balance sheet strength resulted in the bank recording £40.9 million in pre-tax profit, up 44% versus 2022.

Cambridge & Counties Bank continued to invest in digital capability and people as a means to grow. Staff numbers increased almost 10% to 225 while a combination of good cost control and growth in income resulted in its cost-income ratio reducing to just 37%.

Donald Kerr (pictured), CEO at Cambridge & Counties Bank, said: “Across 2023, we continued to execute against our strategic priorities with the aim to become the specialist SME bank of choice in the UK. Our relentless focus on service and product excellence as well as a dedicated relationship-based market approach to both customers and commercial finance brokers will, we firmly believe, result in continued growth as business confidence begins to recover.

“We recognise the challenging economic conditions and continue to monitor closely the potential impact on our customers, yet our through-the-cycle business model and financial strength enables us to continue to support customers via the deployment of experienced bankers offering deep support where needed.”

Among other achievements in 2023, Cambridge & Counties Bank achieved B Corp Certification in June, one of the most prestigious independent assessments of verified performance, accountability, and corporate transparency. In order to be certified, a company must achieve a B Impact Assessment score of 80 or above and pass an in-depth risk review. Cambridge & Counties Bank scored 92.8, outperforming the UK banking sector on impact on the environment, customers, and its people.

Separately, in August, the bank agreed a £20 million Tier 2 capital facility from British Business Investments to enable it to increase the volume of lending to smaller businesses over and above levels it might have otherwise been able to provide.

Patrick Newberry, Chair of Cambridge & Counties Bank, said: “We entered 2023 knowing that it was going to be tough and unpredictable. However, by deploying the bank’s strengths – strong customer and broker relationships, good credit risk and arrears management, and nimble deposit gathering mechanisms – we were able to navigate the stormy waters and deliver for our clients. Both real estate finance and asset finance delivered a stellar performance as a result of the continuing forensic focus of our front-line teams.

“While it is true that interest rate movements during the year worked in the wider banking sector’s favour, it is not axiomatic that bank profitability will increase in times of rising rates. Action is always needed to capitalise on opportunities.”

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