The BSA has a long tradition of welcoming overseas visitors as they pass through London, taking the opportunities to share experiences and learn from each other. The commercial issues we face are often identical – from cybercrime to branches, from meeting the needs of older members to recruiting the next generation from the millennial population. Our legal and regulatory frameworks may differ in detail, but the major prudential and conduct theme, too, are common.
This summer has been a particularly busy and fruitful one, with an important twist. For the first time, we have been able to lead our own study tour to meet with our community and co-operative banking counterparts in Massachusetts. Thanks to the huge generosity of our long-standing friend, Stan Ragalevsky from K&L Gates in Boston and a warm welcome from the Massachusetts Bankers Association, Darina Armstrong (Progressive BS), Colin Fyfe (Darlington BS), Sarah Howe (Saffron BS) and I were able to meet and exchange ideas and views with Chief Executives and senior staff from over 60 banks – all in the space of just two and a half days. We covered themes from regulation to social media, from modern branch strategies to distinctive approaches to branding, from attracting millennials as customers to recruiting them as employees.
Back in the UK, the World Credit Union Congress chose Belfast as its 2016 venue, bringing a stream of visitors through London. We renewed and strengthened friendships with visiting delegations from the Australian customer-owned banking sector and Darina Armstrong, Gary Brebner (Loughborough BS), Debbie Brown (No1 Copperpot Credit Union) and I we were invited to join a two-day meeting of CEOs from some of the largest American, Canadian and Australian credit unions and mutual banks, where we were able to explore many of the same issues in much greater depth.
Why is all this important? And why should more societies think about getting involved? Well, as I have said, we all face very similar regulatory, competitive and operational issues; and whilst we have similar traditions and histories, our different perspectives lead us to come up with different approaches and solutions. All of us who got involved this summer have come away with fresh ideas and inspiration that we can deliver back into our own organisations. As importantly, we have built new networks and strengthened existing ones – so that our dialogue and exchange of views can continue between now and the next time we get together. During the autumn we will be picking up our series of transatlantic conference calls with our friends in Massachusetts.
If you would like to join the calls, please let Amanda Esteban know (firstname.lastname@example.org
). In spring we very much hope, once again, to be welcoming a number of overseas delegates to the BSA Conference in London. Please do take the opportunity then to introduce yourselves – and help us make them all feel very welcome.
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