Mutual benefit: Stephen Mitcham’s legacy at The Cambridge Building Society
Stephen Mitcham oversaw a transformation at The Cambridge Building Society during his 12-and-a-half year tenure as chief executive.
The mutual was rebranded, doubled its assets and grew its digital offering. This year, it won Building Society of the Year at the MoneyAge Awards, a fitting accolade as he called time on his career at The Cambridge, handing over the reins to Peter Burrows, who has stepped up from finance director.
Stephen joined the organisation in April 1990 and became its chief executive in April 2007 at a challenging time for the industry, with the global financial crisis beginning to bite, and the subsequent era of record low base rates.
In this unpromising environment, the business stayed true to its principles of helping those in the community to find homes, but under Stephen’s watch there was an acknowledgement of the need to progress.
Stephen led the rebranding of the mutual as The Cambridge, and it transitioned to an integrated business offering services to customers through a branch network, over the phone and online.
More recently, The Cambridge began refreshing its stores and launched an app for day-to-day transactions and activities.
The Cambridge’s assets grew from around £800million to about £1.5billion under his leadership, with the mortgage book swelling in recent years.
The organisation also developed a reputation for innovation.
Some £15million of capital was raised via Cambridgeshire County Council Pension Fund, a ground-breaking initiative that further strengthened the financial foundations of the business.
Then came the Making the Difference initiatives - such as Rent to Home - which his successor will build on.
Stephen’s experience made him a natural choice as chairman of the Building Societies Association (BSA) from May 2018 to May 2019, having served as deputy chairman the previous year.
His time as chief executive will also be remembered for involvement in community events, such as Bridge the Gap. A highlight was a Sahara walk with his wife to raise funds to help support the building of the new Arthur Rank Hospice.
With 35 years experience under his belt, Stephen plans to find non-executive roles, following a short break, which will include a visit to South Africa, with a couple of days enjoying the Cape Town Test Match.
Stephen, whose family roots lie in the fens, was recently appointed as a lay member of Cambridge and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group Board, through which he hopes to support the county he knows so well.
He is also hoping to improve his golf, spend some time with his one-year-old granddaughter, and find time to enjoy walking in the Yorkshire Dales.
Stephen told the Cambridge Independent: “I am delighted to be able to hand over to an internal candidate who is well versed and understands the values that underpin the way the society deals with customers, business partners and team members.”
And, as Peter has noted, he’ll certainly be a tough act to follow.
More by this authorPaul Brackley