We present our 349th balance sheet below. During the past year deposits have been growing and the footings nearly passed the £6bn milestone at the year end. The capital and liquidity ratios remain strong, and we consistently hold over £1bn in the Bank of England.
We are hopeful the UK will avoid any further reductions in base rate and, in common with other UK banks, we have been spared from making any further significant provisions for bad debts arising from the lockdowns.
Speaking of lockdowns, we look forward to welcoming in person many customers and staff who joined the bank remotely and who have never visited 37 Fleet St.
We created our evening talks as a way of building community with our customers, one roomful at a time. We little imagined we would have many hundreds at a time viewing online by Zoom. Suddenly we have a multi-media events team on our hands!
The bank recently completed the move of much of our infrastructure to the cloud. Most customers will now be familiar with our updated mobile app, and some may have experienced 7-day/week faster payments. Our IT department (which is the largest department in the bank) has been working hard.
Before Christmas, Steven Cooper was lured to a challenger bank after almost two successful years as our CEO. Our chairman, Nick Macpherson, stepped into the hot seat for a period of about six months and in June, Diana Brightmore-Armour, already a non-executive director of the bank, took up the CEO role. Nick will revert to non-executive chairman, and we will look to appoint another NED in due course.
Messrs. Hoare Trustees’ donor advised fund, the Master Charitable Trust, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. It now has over 100 funds and has distributed over £160m to good causes. It provides customers with the benefits of having their own charitable trusts without the burdens.
This year the Golden Bottle Trust focused on environmental causes, making grants towards peatland and seagrass restoration, the protection of the European eel population, and agro-economic farming. The trust remains invested 100% for impact, and this includes an investment in Snowball, which was the subject of an evening talk in November.
Boris Johnson knows his classics; he must be aware ‘circumstances rule men; men do not rule circumstances.’ (Herodotus, The Histories, Book 7)