Having prepared ourselves for what might have been a very challenging year, 2018 proved to be a successful one for UTB on many fronts.
We’ve always taken the view that whilst it’s important to keep a close eye on the political and economic landscapes, we wouldn’t allow activity in Westminster or Brussels to divert us from our own plans. Our objective was to keep growing the Bank by increasing lending, developing product choice and innovating our service offering and that’s exactly what we did. Our recently published results show that we grew our loan book by 20% to over £1bn in 2018. It was less than a third that size in 2014. Consequently, we increased our operating income in 2018 by 22% to over £61m. Every division of the Bank achieved growth in some measure with some breaking records almost monthly.
Our hard work didn’t go unnoticed. UTB won an unprecedented ten industry awards across our lending and deposits businesses last year. These included four for our second charge loans, Asset Finance Deal of the Year, Development lender of the Year, three for our deposit products and service and the title of ‘Specialist Bank of the Year’ for the second time at the Bridging & Commercial Awards. In the last few weeks we picked up our first award of 2019 when we were named ‘Best Secured Loan Lender’ at the Mortgage Strategy Awards for the second year running.
During the year we created a new Motor Finance division based in Bolton, we launched new mortgage products with a move into first charges and we developed our savings offering by taking new ISA subscriptions for the first time and sealing a successful partnership with Hargreaves Lansdown to offer our deposit accounts via their innovative Active Savings platform. We recruited more great people across the Bank and we’ve just moved into additional space at our City offices to provide much needed desk and meeting space.
We continue to be a very visible specialist lender. Our thought leadership through the media and our own customer communications has been complemented this year by members of the UTB team presenting at several industry conferences and round table events. Nine of us representing the Bank, our largest delegation ever, have just returned from MIPIM in Cannes, billed as the ‘world’s leading property market’, where we jointly hosted an event with James Andrew International for over 600 leading figures from the UK’s property sector. Our message couldn’t be clearer. Whatever happens over the coming months, UTB is open for business.