BOOMING mortgage lending drove up profits in 2013 at challenger bank Virgin Money, the lender said yesterday.
The bank, which was built out of the remains of Northern Rock, made a pre-tax profit of £179.4m in 2013, up 23.5 per cent on the year.
Mortgage balances jumped 17 per cent on the year to £19.6bn, while retail savings balances matched the pace, rising to £21.1bn.
The bank’s net interest margin jumped from 0.54 per cent to 1.26 per cent, driven largely by the acquisition of a £1bn credit card portfolio from MBNA.
Although Northern Rock had a northern focus, Virgin has a nationwide footprint as most of its savings come from online customers and the majority of mortgage borrowers come through intermediaries.
Virgin Money is trialling current accounts with 500 staff currently. It hopes to roll out the free, basic account in Scotland in the first half of the year and the whole UK by the end of 2014.
It is also planning a more upmarket current account, likely to be paid-for, this year.
“It will be another innovation in the market,” chief executive Jayne-Anne Gadhia told City A.M.
“We have not worked out the pricing yet, but it will be a very Virgin product with a wow factor.”
In coming years the bank is considering entering the small business market where it hopes its well known brand will be able to make inroads into the established banks’ market share.
Virgin Money’s Basel III capital ratio came in at 15.3 per cent and its leverage ratio stands at 3.7 per cent.