Nationwide Building Society: Graham Beale to leave after nine years at helm

Calls for more new homes as Nationwide mortgage lending rises by £1bn

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The Independent Online

The boss of Nationwide is to bow out next year after nine years at the helm of the country's biggest building society.

“I’m leaving on a high,” Graham Beale said as Nationwide reported a 32 per cent rise in headline profits to £1.22bn.

“It was the right time to plan for the future both personally and corporately. Succession is best dealt with from a position of strength.

“I will be here for another year to ensure my succession but after that I have no desire to take on another executive role and imagine I will end up in a non-executive position.”

Mr Beale, 56, joined Nationwide in 2003 and became its chief executive in 2007.

He steered it through the financial crisis, raising £500m to meet regulators’ capital demands. But he also faced controversy over his pay which hit £2.57m last year - way above the level at any other mutual.

Nationwide’s rise in profits was largely down to a £1bn rise in mortgage lending to £28.1bn. That pushed it back up to the position of second-largest housing lender in the UK above Santander once again, but still way behind Halifax.

Mr Beale said: “If the new Government were to do one thing quickly it has got to tackle building more homes. The interest outlook is benign and there are signs that listings with estate agents are picking up after the pre-election lull. But the demographic is very clear - demand is going to be double that of supply for some time to come.”

On the savings front, Nationwide took around a £1.5bn hit from the Chancellor George Osborne’s launch of NS&I Pensioner Bonds last year. Mr Beale said: “We couldn’t remotely match the kind of rates which that was offering and a high proportion of our savers were eligible for the bonds so we couldn’t argue against their withdrawing money to buy them.”

Potential internal successors to Mr Beale include the finance director Mark Rennison, director of retail Chris Rhodes and chief operating officer Tony Prestedge.

The succession process will be overseen by Nationwide’s incoming chairman David Roberts who made it clear today that he would look widely at both internal and external candidates for the post.

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