VMBS sees Dramatic fall in Foreclosures
VICTORIA Mutual Building Society (VMBS) recorded a three-quarters drop in property foreclosures last year.
It signals greater resilience by homeowners during an austere economy affected by heavy currency depreciation.
“The building society also enabled more members who were facing financial difficulties to retain ownership of their homes,” said VMBS in a statement about its year ended December 31, 2013. “Foreclosures on properties totalled 10 last year, compared to 37 the year before.”
Its non-performing loans, or loans unserviced for over 90 days, moved from 6.9 per cent at the beginning of the year to 5.6 per cent at the end.
“This improvement was the result of the continued drive to engage members who were having difficulty meeting their monthly mortgage payments, and working with them collaboratively, with the aim of helping them to bring their accounts current and retain ownership of their homes,” said Michael McMorris, chairman of Victoria Mutual, in his report for the group’s 135th annual general meeting held last month.
Greater focus was also placed on sales and services with mortgage disbursements up 133 per cent to $3.3 billion last year, the company indicated.
The Victoria Mutual Group, an amalgam of various financial, mortgage and insurance entities, made less after-tax surplus at $965.8 million for 2013 compared with $1 billion a year earlier.
The group’s pre-tax surplus actually increased year on year but its after-tax surplus dipped 4.2 per cent to $965.8 million as it was “adversely affected by the imposition of an asset tax on regulated financial institutions, which applied to both VMBS and VM Wealth Management,” stated the company.
The VM Group said that it aims to keep mortgage rates low by reducing administration costs, which augurs well for prospective homeowners.
Stated McMorris: “Internally, the year 2014 will see a continuation of a number of projects and initiatives geared towards improving efficiency and service delivery throughout the group.”
VM Group will seek to improve its financial advisory and brokerage services by growing the assets it manages on behalf of clients.
“To do this, Victoria Mutual Wealth Management Limited (VMWM) is working on new products to allow clients to customise their investment portfolios,” stated McMorris.
VMBS Money Transfer Services Limited (VMTS) plans to expand its services, both locally and overseas. The remittance company became profitable two years ago, and saw earnings grow by 61 per cent last year, due largely to an increase in fees, the company stated. VMTS also benefited from a 28 per cent increase in foreign exchange trading gains.
“Better gains on foreign exchange in part reflected a more challenging business environment last year, when depreciation of the Jamaican dollar was higher than 12 per cent,” stated the company.
VMBS allows its debit card holders free withdrawals at any of its teller machine or point-of-sale terminals.