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Skipton International celebrates 15 Years

15th November 2010 Print

Skipton International Limited, the Guernsey based offshore savings and local Channel Islands mortgage specialist, is celebrating its 15thanniversary this month.

In the years since the company formerly known as Skipton Guernsey started business, much has changed in the market. Now, following a buyout, an amalgamation and a name change, Skipton International is one of Guernsey’s premier mortgage lenders and savings banks, both for residents and British expatriates globally.

The market for offshore deposits and savings in 1995 was very different, with a far greater number of small offshore savings banks operating out of both the Isle of Man and Channel Islands, all chasing the same savings business. Skipton Guernsey’s product range was simple, easy to understand and attractive – three characteristics which the bank still sticks by today. In all probability, the 1995 saver with Skipton Guernsey would have had their savings in a Guernsey 60 account paying a gross interest rate of up to 7.00%, but in the 1990s, UK Base Rate stood at 6.625%.

When the company first opened for business, it was an innovative pioneer of the concept of the managed bank, a structure which allowed administration and IT systems to be subcontracted. Key advantages of such a business model are cost containment and flexibility, factors which enabled Skipton Guernsey to pay such relatively high interest rates.

Skipton Guernsey outgrew this arrangement in October 2002, when it bought a Guernsey mortgage book from Standard Chartered Grindlays and became a mortgage lender in Guernsey. May 2005 saw the next big change to the business when the Jersey mortgage operation was started. At the time, the service was only available via a small selection of key mortgage brokers, but today, this too has grown into a thriving business with a wide range of partners in Jersey and also a direct business model.

Since 2002, across both Guernsey and Jersey, the lending operation has developed from a £100 million book to one valued at nearly £500 million.

The well publicised credit crunch throughout 2008 and 2009 has also led to significant changes. In the UK, Skipton Building Society merged with Scarborough Building Society, whilst in Guernsey, Skipton Guernsey amalgamated with Scarborough Channel Islands Limited, which produced another big change - a new name and a significant uplift in staff numbers - as those from the old Scarborough Channel Islands joined the new Skipton International Limited.

With a wide range of local community activities ranging from the sponsorship of Floral Guernsey to becoming the lead sponsor of the newly named Skipton Swimarathon, Skipton International also plays an active and high profile role in the local community. The Skipton Swimarathon is organised jointly by the local Lions Club and Round Table and the first Swimarathon was held in 1977. Since modest beginnings, Swimarathon has gone on to raise over £1 million pounds for good causes locally.

Managing Director Alan Bougourd is looking forward to the new challenges facing the bank. Commenting on the prospects for the next few years, he said, “There is no doubt that we have just come through one of the toughest periods on record. You simply need to compare the number of independent organisations offering savings and mortgage services today with the picture five years ago. That said, we are focussed on this business, we know it well and we have no plans to change that focus. We have always prided ourselves on our approach to customer service too, taking the time to make sure every customer had the right mortgage or savings account for their circumstances at the time and it is this personalised, individual approach which has stood us in such good stead. You could argue these are local values, we would not disagree, but we also see them as good business sense as well. In difficult markets such as at present, this ability to focus on the customer and their personal needs and to really take the time to talk to them is vital.”

For more information on Skipton International savings products, visit