The past 12 months have been incredibly eventful. It’s hard now to remember all the twists and turns we have experienced. Any review must start with the ongoing impact of Covid-19. Living with the virus has been a universal experience, affecting all countries and all demographics.
Amongst the terrible sadness there have been points of light: the vaccination programme hadn’t started in earnest on 1st January 2021. A year later in the UK most people have now had three jabs. The measures taken to control the virus had many serious side effects. Children’s learning was seriously disrupted, mental health came under even greater pressure and so many of the good things we had taken for granted were unobtainable.
But just as the winter gloom of early 2021 seemed unbearable, what passed for spring arrived. The gradual reopening of our lives and the economy were all the more enjoyable after the hardships of January and February. The economy rebounded rapidly. While our health is incredibly important, our livelihoods, and those of our neighbours and communities, are also vital. The furlough scheme, along with other direct to business support, seems to have staved off the worst effects, allowing much of the economy to reopen and many jobs saved.
As the year ended, it felt like we had come full circle, with Covid-19 dominating the headlines. I am a natural optimist and have complete faith that, in the darkest hour, the application of ingenuity and science will find solutions, whether to mutating viruses, climate change or any number of other challenges we face.
For Weatherbys, 2021 was another year of growth. Our deposits grew 29%,1 an astounding number. We operate a very conservative balance sheet, with a huge amount of liquidity maintained at the Bank of England. Unlike so many that have adopted ‘self-serve only’ models, our continued focus on providing access to knowledgeable and helpful people when needed continues to win in the marketplace.
The housing market has proven resilient, meaning demand for sensibly structured loans has also been strong. Stock markets have been robust, climbing a wall of worry as they always do. Their performance has reminded us that we should first have a financial plan and then stick to it rather than trying to second guess the future.
We welcomed 53 new colleagues to the Bank in 2021. As a growing business, we are investing heavily in our people and systems. Many of the improvements to the latter are behind the scenes, but, as we move into 2022, they will become more readily apparent.
Happy New Year!
1 Source: Weatherbys Private Bank