31 JANUARY 1941, Page 23




IN view of existing conditions, and in place of his usual annual address, the following statement has been circulated by Mr. G. P. Dewhurst, Chairman of Williams Deacon's Bank, Limited, to the shareholders at the bank in advance of the annual general meeting held on January 23rd, 1941

From the report you will see that Colonel Six Edward Johnson- Ferguson, who succeeded his father as a director of the bank in 19°6, has decided not to seek re-election at this time, finding that fresh duties in connection with the war make attendances here increasingly difficult. To fill the vacancy thus caused we have invited Mr. Harold Slaney Kershaw to a seat on he board, and I should like in your name to offer Mr Kershaw a very hearty welcome, feeling confident that his wide experience and knowledge of affairs will be of the utmost value to the bank.

Taking the figures of the oalance-sheet, the striking feature on the liabilities side is an increase in our deposits of £9,234,000, or 22 per cent, in excess of the figures of last year. which in turn were a record in the history of the bank Doubtless the incidence of the Various controls and rationing by the Government of shipping, imports and exports and the home trade has been the principal factor in these larger deposits while the considered policy of the trader and private individual alike to retain profits in his business And keep himself liquid has doubtless also had a similar effect. It is certainly more than a coincidence that tf.e rise in Jur deposits practically corre- sponds with the increase of £3,5oo,000 in our holding of British Government securities through subscriptions to new war issues and the allotment to the Bank of £5,500,000 of Treasury deposit receipts, the bank thus acting as a medium for the direction of public and private savings to the Government and giving proof, if it were needed, of our desire to assist the Government in its loan policy for financing the war.

Acceptances and credits opened snow a decrease of L278,000, largely owing to the change in the method of financing the import of certain commodities. On the other hand, endorsements, &c., due to increased guarantees given on behalf of customers are higher by £174,00o.

Turning now to the assets side of the sheet, our cash, balances with other banks, money at call, bills discounted and Treasury deposit receipts reach the figure of £25,600,000, and taking these five items together they amount to over 50 per cent, of our deposits, the prin- cipal increases being £1,9oo,000 in our cash and £5,5oo,000 in our Treasury deposit receipts, an item which appears for the first time. The only decrease appearir.g in these items is for bills discounted, which reflects the lack of commercial bills.

Regarding the advances we have, in common with other banks, to report a decrease, in our case of £1,900,000 caused mainly by changed methods of financing imports due to Government control, retention of companies' profits in their businesses and liquidation of private advances, these reductions having more than offset advance facilities granted in connection with war production and the export trade.

Bank premises account shows a reduction of £28,000, and with no branch extensions undertaken during the year it practically benefits by the full amount appropriated from the year's profit.

• I feel confident that the balance-sheet figures I have outlined, which, of course, have only been arrived at after the fullest provision has been made for all weak or doubtful positions, all tend to emphasise the extreme liquidity of the bank's resources, leaving us in a position to give every assistance to our customers in financing their engage- ments on war production.

Turning now to the figures of profit and loss, our net profit, after making the usual provisions, appears at £292,672, as compared with £298,865, or a decrease of £6,193. This profit, with the balance of £120,125 brought forward from last year, gives us a total of £412,798 to be dealt with. After transferring £30,000 to premises account, we are in a position to pay a dividend at the rate of 121- per cent, on both our " A ' and " B ' shares and carry forward to next year's account £148,423, as against £120,125 brought in. If we take into account the extra burden of taxation and the difficulties under which the busi- ness of the bank has been carried on I feel we have every reason to be gratified with these results and the evidence they afford of the progress maintained during the year. You will probably agree that at this time it is hardly appropriate to give more than this brief resume of the bank's operations but you may be glad to know that where damage has been incurred to our premises through enemy action the inconvenience to the public has been largely minimised through our system of duplicate records, and we have to be very thankful that so far no loss of life amongst the staff has occurred through such action.

You may also be interested to hear that 171 members of the staff are serving with H.M. Forces, and in addition fourteen messengers and porters and one V.A.D. from the female staff, bringing the total up to 186. Of the former I regret to say one has been reported killed, and to his relatives I should like to offer our deepest sympathy.

And now I would wish to convey in your name our very special thanks to the staff for the magnificent way in which their work for the hank has been carried on during the year that has passed. Where one and all have done their best under the most trying circumstances I hestitate to mention the occupant of any one position in the bank, for you can as well appreciate the extra stress and responsibility that has fallen upon the executive and management as you can visualise the trials and discomforts that have been the lot of so many of Our junior members. So to one and all I repeat I would like to offer our hearty thanks and keen appreciation of their loyalty and devotion to the service of the bank.