The Building Societies Association or BSA was originally established in 1869. It is the voice for all 42 UK building societies as well as 7 credit unions. Together these organisations serve almost 26 million customers up and down the length of the UK.
The BSA's objective is to champion and support its Members: To push for the best outcomes from new and changing regulation and legislation to ensure that building societies thrive as an essential part of a diverse financial services sector - serving their savers, borrowers and communities.
To do this we work with, amongst others, the UK Government, the EU Commission, Council and Parliament and regulators, especially the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). In Europe we are a member of the European Association of Co-operative Banks (EACB).
We also speak out on issues that are relevant to building societies and their members (borrowers and savers). We provide technical information to our members on a huge range of topics. Our economists and specialist policy teams have expertise covering mortgages and housing; savings; financial policy and legal, governance and compliance matters.
The BSA is not a regulator itself, nor is it able to deal with complaints about building societies - these are looked after by the Financial Ombudsman Service if they cannot be resolved by the Society itself.
The BSA represents all 42 building societies, as well as 7 larger credit unions. Building societies serve almost 26 million consumers across the UK and have total assets of over £507 billion. Together with their subsidiaries, they have helped over 3.5 million families and individuals to buy a home with mortgages totalling over £375 billion, representing 23% of total mortgage balances outstanding in the UK. They are also helping over 23 million people build their financial resilience, holding over £370 billion of retail savings, accounting for 19% of all cash savings in the UK. Building societies account for 40% of all cash ISA balances. With all of their headquarters outside London, building societies employ more than 51,500 full and part-time staff. In addition to digital services they operate approximately 1,300 branches, holding a 38% share of branches across the UK.
(All financial statistics as at 30 September 2023)
You can read more about building societies' lending and savings figures in the statistics section.
Building societies are owned by their members. Borrowers and savers automatically become a member of their society when they take out a mortgage or open a savings account.
While their businesses must be run as rigorously as any plc bank on the high street - societies operate in the same regulatory environment - their purpose is different. A plc must operate to the benefit of its shareholders, a mutual operates to the benefit of its members and takes business decisions in a different way because of this.
For a brief overview of the sector, see the For People, Not Shareholders leaflet.