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The Skipton Building Society was founded in 1835. In 2009, it bailed out the Scarborough Building Society and in 2010 it merged with the Chesham Building Society
The Skipton is the 4th biggest building society in UK (out of 47) with assets of £13,849 million (as of Dec 2011; source - Building Societies Association) and has its Head Office in Skipton, Yorkshire. It is protected by the FSCS, meaning that all savings up to £85,000 per person are fully guaranteed by the government in the very unlikely event that the Skipton were to go bust.
The Skipton is owned by its members (it's a mutual society) and so has no share-holders. While this might seem quite a minor difference, it means that there are no big investors baying for huge profits at the expense of the customer, as could happen with high street banks like Lloyds, HSBC etc. It also means that they are governed by slightly different legislation to the banks. They are not allowed to take part in some of the more risky types of investment instruments, such as some derivatives trading, and they are only allowed to speculate if it is to minimize their risk, Whereas the big banks, as we all know, can speculate on a huge variety of instruments and often derive their profits from this speculation.
The advantage of this for the members (all borrowers and savers are members of the society subject to meeting certain minimum criteria) is that there are not likely to be any nasty surprises in the form a huge trading loss, and that any profits can be kept within the building society rather than being paid out to external investors.
I have been a customer of the Skipton Building Society for about 10 years. I have had a number of online and regular savings accounts with them over the years.
I try to open my accounts with the Skipton online, as they have rationalised their branch network and sadly closed my nearest branch. Only designated online accounts can be opened via the website. However, it is usually possible to open the other accounts by post. You can either download an application form or Email head office in Yorkshire to ask then to send the forms directly to you. In my experience, accounts are opened within a week and without hassle.
When I did have a local branch, the staff were fantastic - they seemed to know their product range well and were helpful without being pushy. If my branch is a fair example of the rest of the branch network, I would happily recommend them.
The Skipton has occasional good savings rates but, at the moment (October 2012), they are offering very mid-range savings; an instant access saver paying 2.25%, a regular saving paying 3.25%, and an instant access ISA paying 3.10% on balances of above £50,000. None of these rates is terrible, but they can all be very easily beaten by checking out any price comparison site.
The Skipton also offers insurance and mortgages. They also offer buy to let mortgages. However, they do insist on a high loan to value ratio for almost all of their mortgages. They currently are not offering any first time buyer deals. I have not used them for any of these products.
While the Skipton is a good solid building society, their rates are rarely table topping. I would suggest they are worth watching for their occasional good deals, or for those who want a slightly above average rate and don't want the hassle of shopping around or moving money when bonus rates end.
My reviews may also appear on Ciao and other sites under the same user name.
© BobbieAl 2012
Last year we realised that we didnt have the funds we needed to do the things we wanted, like have double glazing fitted, a new kitchen, a whole new roof and pay off the car finance. We approached an independent financial advisor, who looked are incoming and outgoings, and worked out that we needed about £20,000 to do what we wanted. I should tell you at this point that we had a mortgage with Barclays (standard repayment rate tracker), which was over 35 years (it was our only option at the time) and 95%. Our advisor took a look at what was available in the market, and gave use a shortlist to work from. One of the products that stood out was the "Skipton's Stateside Mortgage" it looked very attractive. 3.29% (4.8% APR) and free legal fees for all re-mortgages, plus we could transfer it, if we moved. Plus there wasn?t a big penalty for over payments (something we should all do). So what?s the beef you ask? The mortgage is repayable by the borrower (us) in exactly the same way as any other UK mortgage. Your not dealing in a foreign currency (US dollars). The interest rate simply tracks the 3-Month US Dollar LIBOR Rate for the first five years. This rate has historically been lower than UK Sterling. So we should always have a lower rate than any UK mortgage. There is a caveat. If The US rate goes up, our mortgage goes up, but at least we know the UK one will follow behind, and once again we will have a lower rate. What we don?t know yet is how the euro will affect us...... The Skipton staff have been great, if anything they have been too over the top, we received at least six copies of every document during the re-mortgage, and phone queries (no matter how stupid) were answered very well, in plain English. At the end of the day, our outgoing are less than before, we now only have a 20 year term, and reduced the mortgage to 80%. If you are thinking of a remortgage... DO IT!
hsiboy. http://www.skipton.co.uk/ press_office/press_releases/go_transatlantic_with_stateside_mortgage.asp