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Guest blog: Can the FairLife Mark highlight the benefit of mutuals to future generations?

Guest blog by Dr Paul Boscott and Stuart Phillips, Co-founders of the FairLife Charity.

Guest blog by Dr Paul Boscott and Stuart Phillips, Co-founders of the FairLife Charity.

The FairLife Mark is a collaborative way to serve customers better and improve social well-being, so it resonates with mutuals, but for early supporters its greatest value may be in differentiating them to future members and customers.

WHAT IS THE FAIRLIFE MARK?

The FairLife Charity awards its trademark logo - The FairLife Mark - to finance companies that price honestly and trade fairly with their customers.  The mark is designed to protect customers and to help them choose what they need with more confidence.  The licence fees are directed to fund financial education in schools, giving our children the knowledge they need to make good financial decisions throughout their lives.  This makes the FairLife Mark an ideal way to highlight your commitment to fair standards and to tell your customers that you care.

HOW CAN IT HELP WITH IDENTITY?

The historic identity of mutuals based on the likes of product differentiation is reducing, but this is not what makes our sector special.  It is the mutual ownership model that matters. So a question we should be asking is:

How do we ensure the public understand that mutuals are on their side?

I think Debbie Crosbie hit the nail on the head, whilst discussing the identity of building societies in her talk at the annual conference.

‘Mutuals should be synonymous with collaboration and leading on standards. They should challenge banks to be fairer.’  Debbie Crosbie, CEO, Nationwide BS

To do this effectively needs coordination and this is where the FairLife Mark comes in.  Use of the mark is growing after years of design and drafting, supported by groups including the BSA, UK Finance, ABCUL and TISA.  It is destined to become a household-name – one that children associate with financial education and that every customer knows.

“The FairLife Mark can be the badge customers recognise” Robin Fieth

Societies are signing-up to this mark, for the good it will do today.  The way it benefits their businesses, their customers and schools across the country.  However its full value will be in the future, as a proud part of both their heritage and their identity. 

“The FairLife Charity is using joint purpose to help customers and I am delighted to see so many building societies supporting the FairLife Mark.” Robin Fieth

The FairLife Mark has generated interest across six different areas of finance, but its longstanding supporters are building societies and credit unions.  As these firms display the mark, they are not only highlighting their ethos to today’s customers, but also securing their status as founders of ‘fair-trading in finance’.  A tangible status, that will resonate with future generations and grow in importance as use of the mark grows.

Early supporters will be recognised as ‘Founders of the FairLife Mark’

The charity will consider all early supporters to be Founders of the FairLife Mark and will acknowledge this status once the mark is fully adopted.  If as expected this highlights the mutual sector, it will be a longstanding reminder of how mutuals are different and more focused on the customers’ side.

HOW TO GAIN THE FAIRLIFE MARK AND WHY NOW?

The charity is currently engaged with half of the BSA’s membership, with a number looking to support and display the FairLife Mark by July 31.  The mark’s criteria reflect the ethos of building societies, and have been designed with input from the BSA, so you will likely agree with them.

“I’m thrilled Scottish BS is associated with the FairLife Charity and look forward to working with them” Paul Denton, CEO, Scottish BS.

The onset of consumer duty is the ideal time to support the FairLife Mark.  The mark can help with your future compliance, and branding new literature will convey your enhanced commitment to your customers.  So don’t miss out.  Join the wave of societies becoming founding members this year and be part of creating a household-name badge for ‘fair trading in finance’.  It is within your grasp to do this in 2023 and to secure an enduring legacy for generations. 

For more information, please contact Stuart or Paul for more information, on admin@fairlifecharity.org

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