Building Societies Conference round-up: Day 1, Part 2

Highlights from the remainder of day 1 included sessions on Open Banking, Diversity & inclusion, green housing and the use of technology to strengthen customer relationships.

Part 1 of this series of blogs on the Building Societies Conference can be found here

The second half of day 1 included an keynote and panel session on Open Banking; an enlightening speech on diversity & inclusion with Katharine Birbalsingh; Sarah Breeden from the Bank of England speaking about the challenges and opportunities on the journey to net zero and a session exploring the benefits of technology in strengthening customer relationships.

Open Banking: What's next for innovation in financial services?

Charlotte Crosswell OBE, Chair and Trustee, Open Banking Ltd (Keynote)

Q&A with Charlotte Crosswell OBE, Chair and Trustee, Open Banking Ltd; Richard Wainwright, Chief Executive Officer, Mutual Vision (Chair); Samantha Seaton, CEO, Moneyhub

Hats off to Mutual Vision, one of our four Headline sponsors, for arranging a session which featured Charlotte Crosswell, Chair and Trustee of Open Banking Ltd the implementation entity for Open Banking (OB) and Samantha Seaton, CEO of Money Hub, as well as Richard Wainwright, CEO of Mutual Vision. 

Charlotte kicked off with a keynote on the purpose and progress of OB, being introduced in over 50 countries.  The aim of the UK implementation entity being to increase adoption through engagement which extols virtues and serves to demystify too for consumers and those in the industry. 

For building societies, OB offers the potential to maximise savings – by connecting an individual’s current and savings accounts and instituting an automated surplus cash sweeping instruction; plus the ability to offer risk based credit faster and more efficiently through delivery.  Overall, through OB, government aims to increase innovation and competition in financial services; reduce mega-card-company and large bank dominance and enable customers to make more informed decisions.  Already, the UK has more third party providers than the whole of Europe combined so it is already a success story, but it is clear that consumer trust and their willingness to share their data will require continued encouragement.

But OB which already has 5.5 million consumer users in the UK is only a precursor to the very much wider Open Finance which aims to broaden access and information across Telco and utilities as well as other areas of financial services and may help to counter financial exclusion.  Smart data legislation, which was included in the Queen’s Speech on 10 May, is a necessary precursor to this development.

For more information:

Mutual Vision
MoneyHub – countering financial exclusion with Open Finance
Open Banking Ltd

Diversity and inclusion

Katharine Birbalsingh CBE, Chair of the Social Mobility Commission and Headmistress and Co-founder of Michaela Community School

Katharine Birbalsingh, Chair of the Social Mobility Commission and Headmistress and Co-founder of Michaela Community School, spoke about diversity and inclusion. She focused on the importance of businesses finding the right person for the job. This partly depended on the education system preparing young people for the world of work, by instilling confidence, being punctual and making eye contact with people. But it also depended on businesses looking for the best person for the job, rather than the best performer in the interview. She asked questions to help attendees reflect on how to improve their recruitment processes, which included:

  • Do you consider unconscious bias?
  • Do you put the person at ease?
  • Do you consider the person’s background and make sure that you as asking your questions in ways so they can shine?
  • Do you do more than just interview?
  • Are you looking for a performer or best person for the job?

Green housing

Sarah Breeden, Executive Director for Financial Stability Strategy and Risk, Bank of England

Sarah spoke about the duty of governments and central banks to manage the political and economic trade-offs on the journey to net zero – “it is not just the destination, the journey is important too”.

Managing sharp adjustments in the economy is never easy, and sudden increases in prices of energy and food is causing issues around the world.  Sarah told delegates that to minimise risk and maximise opportunities, acting early is key; the path taken will be the sum of a myriad of decisions and the Bank of England’s role is to understand the potential effects of different transition pathways. She also highlighted the need for combined efforts on this journey.

Sarah then went on to speak about the financial sector’s clear role in the transition – with the UK housing stock producing as much as 20% of carbon emissions, assisting households to reduce these is key and banks and building societies have an important role to play in providing the finance for retrofitting.

Sarah also spoke of possible unintended consequences of policy decisions; one of which is the potential risk restrictions on mortgages to non-energy efficient house could have, creating a new group of mortgage prisoners and the care that must be taken to avoid this scenario.

Sarah finished the session by reiterating that the path we take matters but how, given recent events, it may not be as direct as we thought. But we should not forget how much progress has been made.

Penny Lane - perception and reality

Patricia Moore, Client Lead Financial Services - Microsoft Business Applications UK&I, DXC Technology

Patricia Moore, Client Lead Financial Services at DXC Technology spoke about the perception customers had of financial services, inspired by the Beatles’ song ‘Penny Lane’ and how technology can help strengthen that relationship. Software packages, such as Microsoft Office, can help feed into other software solutions for the business, like customer relationship management. Choosing the right delivery partner is vital as relationships in the wider ecosystem can bring additional benefits to the business, such as experience of refreshing existing and opening new branches.

For more information:

DXC Technology


A huge thank you to this year’s four Headline Sponsors: DXC TechnologyFinastraMutual Vision and Target Group and Sponsors: BDOieDigitalRSASalesforce and Sopra as well as all the exhibitors without whom the conference could not happen.