Tonight: Victoria Mutual host ‘Let’s Talk’ in Oval
TALKING FINANCE on the hottest night of the year was clearly a bit too much for Victoria Mutual Group (VM) members in Birmingham – even when given the chance to get up and dance to the Mighty Diamonds reggae hit I Need A Roof. Courtney Campbell, VM’s president and CEO, couldn’t persuade the heat weary folk at their ‘Let’s Talk’ community meeting to join in the 1975 classic, despite telling them that people in Bristol had been singing and dancing to it at an earlier roadshow. But the upbeat Campbell, well known for his slick musical moves, was undeterred. He said:
“The whole point of playing this song is about highlighting our commitment to providing a roof over people’s heads and offering financial independence. It’s about the ‘upliftment’ of people – that is the mission of Victoria Mutual.”
Earlier Campbell outlined VM’s core values of member focus, integrity, teamwork, innovation and excellence, adding that it was the group’s main priority to listen to members and respond.
“No mediocrity will be tolerated within Victoria Mutual, not in our service, our products or our buildings,” he told the meeting at Aston Villa Football Club.
He said that he had told members in both Manchester and Bristol that VM intended to be present in both cities at least one day a month to serve them better.
Campbell, who added that it was vital for members to tell VM about the services they wanted, said:
“We have been committed to partnering with our members to improve their quality of life globally since November 1878 – for the past 139 years.”
He explained that private sector players had started to invest more in Jamaica, making it a much more business friendly environment with the lowest inflation in decades and a fairly stable exchange rate.
“This is a good time how for investment in Jamaica, especially in real estate,” he said, adding that VM had launched its first online mortgage portal last year, being the first and, so far, the only institution in Jamaica which allows people to apply for a mortgage online, with a full mortgage centre now in Liguanea, Kingston.
And praising Leighton Smith, a director at Victoria Mutual Finance Ltd, Campbell explained how VM had now obtained a licence to be a mortgage broker in the UK, on behalf of some high street banks, starting with the Coventry Building Society.
Peter Reid, CEO of VM’s Building Society Operations, explained how being a mutual building society meant that staff worked for the benefit of members wherever they may be, returning value to them.
“We are a better operating company when we are directed by our members,” he said.
While Michael Neita, CEO of VM’s Property Services, another key member of VM’s leadership and property services team visiting the UK from Jamaica, explained how historically Jamaica has enjoyed a huge appreciation of value in real estate across the island.
“Relative to other Caribbean islands, Jamaica is still affordable, especially for the overseas market,” he said.
Earlier, VM group chairman Michael McMorris told the Birmingham audience that it was people like them who had helped to build the society into the leading financial brand it is today, adding:
“I’m very happy to be able to get out of the boardroom and come on the ground with the UK team and the Jamaican executives to say thanks for your business and to also say we are intent on listening to your needs.
“We are very big on outreach, very big on community – every service that you use from us and what we give to you helps us all to build a better Jamaica.”
But in wide-ranging questions afterwards, from the impact of crime, to investment, and better opening hours for working people, one member felt that VM had ‘missed a generation,’ adding that they had not connected with her or her children in the way they should. She also felt that the Birmingham office in Dudley Road, Edgbaston, was ‘not very nice to use.’
This was defended by Delores Cooper OD, a director of VM Finance, who worked for the Jamaican High Commission for 11 years. She said:
“I was privileged to be here in Birmingham in November 2014 when Victoria Mutual’s Birmingham office was refurbished and had its official re-opening. Jam TV was there and it was broadcast – I’m betting the lady who is not happy must have gone to the wrong office. I was there today and it is beautifully air conditioned.”
And she ended the meeting on a bright note for the younger generation, explaining that Tanesha Westbrook, a VM youth ambassador, was using twitter and Instagram to spread VM’s message, adding:
“Victoria Mutual is determined to do all it can to reach out to the youth because they are the ones who will continue after we have gone.”
The final Let’s Talk community meeting will be held at 6.30pm tonight at the KIA Oval, Harleyford Street, London, SE11 5SS. Call 0208 801 6777 to confirm attendance.