By Ian McConnell

Scottish Building Society is opening a branch in Aberdeen to “drive new business in the north-east” and support existing customers, highlighting the importance of offering face-to-face contact "at a time when the world seems to be going online".

The building society, revealing its £500,000 investment, has completed a refit of a three-storey office block on the corner of Union Street and Holburn Street, with the doors of the new branch opening today.

The opening comes amid a slew of branch closures by major banking groups.

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Initially, the branch will have a staff of four, led by business relationship manager Alan Chapman and north-east business development manager Douglas Sharpe.

Mr Chapman said: “It seems counter-intuitive to be opening offices at a time when the world seems to be going online.

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“However, given we have thousands of members in the north-east, we want to ensure they get the best of both worlds – the opportunity to talk to us face to face if they wish, or use our digital and mortgage savings service SBS online.

“Our traditional approach to how we treat our new and existing members is one we take great pride in and this, combined with digital capability, will continue to keep the society relevant.”

Mr Sharpe said the building society “acknowledged the different challenges faced in the north-east, particularly in the oil industry”.

He added: “We are well placed to assist all types of borrowers with our flexible, personal approach to underwriting, focusing on helping borrowers buy [or] build their main residence. We are currently seeing a strong demand for self-build mortgages particularly across the north-east, one of only a few lenders in this segment.

“Our commitment to first-time buyers remains, including the provision of guarantor mortgages to help them on the property ladder or for students as an alternative to renting.”

Scottish Building Society chief executive Paul Denton, who started his career with the Royal Bank of Scotland in Forfar before being appointed to regional manager in Aberdeen, said: “I went to school in Brechin and have fond memories of working in Aberdeen, so this is a homecoming.

“The north-east has its own unique identity and we prefer to focus on customers’ individual circumstances rather than that the automated one-size-fits-all approach of most of the larger lenders.”