Society uses web to keep us saving

Tony Burdin, chief executive of Sheffield Mutual Friendly Society
Tony Burdin, chief executive of Sheffield Mutual Friendly Society
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Sheffield Mutual Friendly Society has unveiled plans to combat the threat that new requirements to charge fees for financial advice will discourage investors.

Chief executive Tony Burdin launched plans to boost fee-free services using the Internet as the Society announced increases in membership and income.

The Society says traditional premium income rose by 21 per cent to £4.21 million, while assets increased by 20 per cent to £57.3 million and membership grew by eight per cent to 8,032.

Sheffield Mutual issued more than 19,000 policies during 2012 and said a lot of the success was the result of potential investors searching the Internet.

The Society was one of the first of the smaller friendly societies to accept policy applications online and is targeting further increases.

Tony Burdin said: “We are delighted with the new business figures, which show that people are looking for potentially greater returns on their savings than can be achieved on cash deposits.

“Sheffield Mutual remains the UK’s top performer for the Tax Exempt Savings Plan and the availability of this product online, backed up by traditional personal service, means we are now attracting new business from savers throughout the country.”

Mr Burdin predicted that the current year would be more difficult because of the Financial Services Authority’s Retail Distribution Review, which replaced commission fees, paid to intermediaries by firms with financial products with fees for financial advice, paid for by consumers.

“There is a risk that savers and investors with more modest sums might be priced out of receiving advice, but we’ve taken steps to ensure that people who can’t or won’t pay advice fees can also access our products using the web and other non-advised services,” said Mr Burdin.