Around 500 people are expected to gather at The Sage in Gateshead on 18 and 19 May for the 2016 Building Societies Association Conference #BSA2016. Over the two days they will hear from a wide range of speakers from inside the sector and out, and from within the UK, Europe and the United States. For those already coming and those thinking about it, here is a taster of the content on offer, all sitting beside what promises to be a vibrant exhibition.
The fun starts the evening before, when those who have pre-booked can enjoy a riverside BBQ, drinks and live music overlooking the iconic Gateshead Millennium Bridge at the River Terrace, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. Those with an artistic bent can visit the gallery beforehand as it is open until 18:00.
The conference properly starts at 11:00 on 18 May with a welcome from BSA Chairman, Dick Jenkins and a key note from Robin Fieth, CEO of the BSA. Attendees will then hear the incisive opinion of Professor Trevor Williams, Chairman of the Institute of Economic Affairs, Shadow Monetary Policy Committee, who gives his economic assessment for the UK – do we all face continued turmoil for the rest of 2016 and ahead? World markets are once again in turmoil, oil is below $30 a barrel and there are continued concerns about economic growth in China. What does all this, plus the key UK issues mean for the prospects of savers and borrowers?
Cyber security was one of the top ‘banking banana skins’ in the 2015 report from PwC and the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation. It is identified second only to economic disruption on the corporate risk register for many businesses. This is mainly because of the speed at which cyber threats are proliferating. A session with Richard Horne, Cyber Security Partner at PwC will offer an overview of current and imminent cyber risk.
The work that the BSA is doing on lending to older borrowers continues, with a session to explore the practical challenges facing lenders in the provision of sound advice, the new challenges in assessing affordability in retirement and what a first-class customer experience can look like. A panel from inside and outside the sector will explore these challenges plus opportunities.
The formal proceedings for day one close with a look at the branch of the future and how firms can unify customer focused branch and digital strategies. With technology and the changing needs of consumers redefining what a branch looks and feels like, this interactive session will highlight the new ways financial institutions in the UK and internationally are physically and digitally engaging with their customers.
After a relaxed dinner and entertainment from acclaimed Canadian standup comic, Stewart Francis, day two starts with some Transatlantic perspectives on regulation. The UK is represented by Jonathan Davidson, Director of Supervision, Retail and Authorisations, from the FCA and the transatlantic element comes from Thomas J Curry, Comptroller of the Currency, US Department of the Treasury.
Governance remains a key topic and we will explore what really makes for a successful board of a building society or financial mutual compared and how the accountability to members drives behaviours. Four senior experts, whose experience spans the UK, EU and USA, will provide their insight into what makes for excellent governance.
All highly regulated firms need people who can lead, manage and grow the business. In this session we hear first-hand from the students from the 17 building societies represented on the BSA backed Masters Programme at Loughborough University.
The conference rounds off with what it is all about – the customer. With the Rio Olympics fast approaching, our speaker will reflect back on London 2012 and hear how putting attendees at the centre of the event made it one of the most successful Games of the modern era. Key to that was building a customer-focused culture amongst thousands of volunteer Games Makers, who welcomed over nine million spectators to the games.
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