The Building Societies Association or BSA is the voice for building societies and for some other mutual financial service providers. Together these organisations serve over 20 million customers up and down the length of the UK and have total assets of over £366 billion.
Including their subsidiaries, they hold residential mortgage balances of over £284 billion - this equates to 22% of all outstanding mortgages in the UK. They also hold over £262 billion of retail deposits - 18% of all such deposits in the UK - including 33% of cash ISA balances. BSA members employ around 40,000 full and part-time staff and operate through 1,550 branches as well as on line and via the phone.*
Our objective at the BSA is to push for the best outcomes for building societies and our other members from the plethora of new and changing regulation and legislation in the UK and Europe. 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.
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.
The BSA was originally established in 1869.
* financial statistics correct as at 31 December 2016.
List of Members in PDF format
Rules and Bye-Laws of the BSA (March 2016)