|Top team at the YBS - from left,Guy Parsons, Robin Churchouse, Chris Pilling and John Heaps. The other directors were seated in the front row of the audience.|
Asked by a member to comment on suggestions that YBS might be the "fairy godmother" the Manchester was seeking, Mr Heaps replied: "We don't comment on speculation."
During the 90-minute long meeting, held at the Hilton Hotel in Leeds, the chairman said the aspiration of the YBS - which embraces the Yorkshire, the Barnsley, the Chelsea and the Norwich & Peterborough building societies - was to become the "most trusted financial institution in the UK".
Despite some of the so-called challenger banks offering the lowest mortgage rates seen for many years, the YBS "achieved robust performance levels" last year.
However, the chairman cautioned: "External market conditions are not expected to get easier."
In a response to a complaint by a member that the YBS' readiness to offer buy-to-let mortgages "deprived other people of becoming home owners, he said these represented "an important but relatively small part of the society's mortgage book".
In response to a comment from a Bedford member, Roland Baker, Mr Heaps described as "a bit of an outrage" the £11.5-million payable by the society to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme to support the £16-billion set aside by the FSCS "as a consequence of the default of a number of deposit-taking institutions".
This view was shared by finance director Rob Churchouse who said: "I grind my teeth every time I hear mention of the the FCBS."
The meeting also heard from chief executive Chris Pilling who confirmed that the Barnsley BS was due to be "retired", with the closure of 22 branches.
"Only a handful of redundancies are expected,"he commented.
There were no questions from members about directors' pay - perhaps because members were told (in a presentation from remuneration committee chairman Guy Parsons) that it compared not unfavourably with that of similar-sized organisations.
Across the spectrum of its workforce, the YBS last year awarded a 2.42 per cent pay increase.
Members were assured that the society was ever-vigilant on cyber-security such that it was striving always to defend itself from any potential attacks by fraudsters - possibly operating outside the UK - and to be in a position respond if, in the worst case, a problem should arise.
Said the chairman: "There are a lot of bad people with good skills."
|Some of the 150 or so members who attended the AGM in Leeds|