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

The second day of Conference included keynote speeches from Sheldon Mills, FCA and Robin Fieth, BSA, along with others exploring the UK housing market post COVID and the power of purposeful business. Other topics discussed during the day included diversity & inclusion, green finance and climate change and Mutual businesses in a post-pandemic world.  Not forgetting the digital mutual stream of sessions running throughout the day.  A busy and fruitful day! 

The second day of Conference included keynotes from Sheldon Mills, FCA and Robin Fieth, BSA, along with others exploring the UK housing market post COVID and the power of purposeful business. Other topics discussed during the day included diversity & inclusion, green finance and climate change and Mutual businesses in a post-pandemic world.  Not forgetting of course the digital mutual sessions running throughout the day.  A busy and fruitful day! 

Some of these sessions are explored in more depth below, part 2 will be published on Friday:

Keynote: Financial Conduct Authority

Sheldon Mills, Executive Director, Consumers and Competition, FCA

Sheldon Mills, Executive Director, Consumers and Competition at the Financial Conduct Authority gave a keynote speech at the conference. It covered a number of topics, including the new Consumer Duty, the rising cost of living and green mortgages and diversity and inclusion.

On the consumer duty Sheldon recognised that putting consumers at the heart of businesses was welcomed by the BSA and that during the pandemic  building societies kept branches and other contact channels open and provided forbearance where needed. He consider the biggest challenge for the sector would be on the product design and fair value rules.

With inflation running at 7.0% and set to reach a 40-year high, he asked societies to consider how they could help members on Standard Variable Rates to move onto a fixed rate, potentially saving them money. He said that with the ongoing cost of living crisis he would be focused on ensuring vulnerable customers were treated fairly.

Sheldon also focused on the role that societies have in helping society decarbonise housing stock and welcomed the sector discussion on diversity and inclusion. He finished by welcoming the strong history of societies helping members and looked forward to that continuing.

Keynote: Big challenges, event bigger opportunities

Robin Fieth, Chief Executive Officer, Building Societies Association

Robin talked to delegates about being ready for the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead, focusing on the important themes for the strategic agendas of BSA member boards.

In the context of the huge events experienced in the last decade, including a financial crisis, global pandemic and Brexit, from which building societies and credit unions have continued to go from strength to strength, Robin shared his thoughts on a number of challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, including those relating to climate change and Net Zero 2050. 

For more information:

A copy of the full speech is available here

Mutual businesses in a post-pandemic world

Caroline Domanski, Chief Executive, No1 CopperPot Credit Union; Daniel Stanley, Director, Cohere Partners, Rob Briner, Professor of Organisational Psychology, Queen Mary, University of London; Teddy Nyahasha, CEO, OneFamily

This session, chaired by Caroline Domanski (Chief Executive) No1 Copperpot Credit Union, focused on how mutuals could position themselves in the post-Covid environment.

First to speak was Daniel Stanley, Director of Cohere Partners (a strategic communications consultancy) who shared the findings from their ‘Beyond Ethical Finance’ report. It found that while people said they wanted more ethical behaviour from financial institutions, consumers did not necessarily choose more ethical firms. It also found that firms were choosing how to define purpose, that traditional ethical firms hadn’t changed their branding to reflect how firms were defining purpose and that there was a great opportunity for mutuals to update it’s branding and communications.

Rob Briner, Professor of Organisational Psychology at Queen Mary, University of London, spoke about how changes in the workplace post-Covid weren’t as great as they might appear according to research. Instead, the psychological contract was being redefined and some employee-employer relationships were becoming more transactional.

Teddy Nyahasha, CEO of OneFamily, spoke about the role of mutuals in tackling key social challenges, e.g. net zero, threadbare safety nets, the 100 year life. He spoke about the importance of mutuals seeking to serve all segments of the market, not just the well off, but the underserved as well. Mutuals could do this by campaigning for change, operating in the whole market and innovating to support people.

For more information:

No1CopperPot Credit Union

Diversity & Inclusion in the modern mutual

Simon Fanshawe OBE, Diversity Consultant, Broadcaster and Author; Cara Wood, Consultant, Odgers Berndtson; Sue Douthwaite, Non-Executive Director, Melton Mowbray Building Society; Rebecca Howard, Head of Supplier Relationship Management, Coventry Building Society

Simon Fanshaw, Sue Douthwaite, Rebecca Howard and Cara Wood burst onto stage with passion and enthusiasm in a fascinating panel discussion on Diversity and Inclusion. There was lively debate on how being diverse and inclusive can help address some of the strategic challenges faced by firms and keep them relevant in a changing world. There were also tips on how to encourage people to truly value diversity, and ensure a talent pipeline representative of the society in which firms operate. Most importantly, there were some serious and thought-provoking messages considered in an energetic, fast-paced and forward-thinking manner. What a refreshing treat!

For more information:

Diversity by Design
Odgers Berndtson

Digital Mutual: Transforming customers experience without leaving vulnerable parts of society behind

Steve Lowe, Head of Marketing at ieDigital

In the opening session of the BSA’s Digital Mutual stream, Steve Lowe, talked about why it was vital that vulnerable customers were not left behind in the shift to digital. 

Lowe set the scene by describing the rapid digitisation of financial services and how providing an engaging and positive experience online was now an essential part of engaging with customers.

He reported the findings of a recent consumer survey by UK Finance that found 81% of adults said the quality of online experiences was a key determiner of who they banked with. 

However, he cautioned that with 50% of UK households exhibiting characteristics of vulnerability, it was vital that the digital experiences provided by financial services firms went further, providing services that were more engaging and more personalised.

He argued that firms needed to be inquisitive about their customers, using technology to provide systems that responded to customers’ goals and their life events along the way.

For more information:


A new consumer duty - why now?

Elaine Morton, Head of Legal, Conduct Risk & Compliance, BSA; Rosanna Bryant, Partner, Addleshaw Goddard LLP; Matthew Britton, General Counsel - Retail, Nationwide Building Society; Ben Perkins, Head of Operations, Plain Numbers

This session focused on the FCA’s incoming consumer duty, with speakers from Addleshaw Goddard, Plain Numbers and Nationwide Building Society.

Anna Bryant, from Addleshaw Goddard, spoke about business concerns. These revolved around Principle 12 (delivering good outcomes) which was supported by 150 pages of rules and guidance, and the timescale, as this needed to be implemented between summer 2022 and April 2023.

Ben Perkins from Plain Numbers welcomed the consumer duty and explained how few consumers understood their bills and statements – across a range of industries. But he too expressed concerns about the timescale and made the point that firms needed to start working on this now.

Matthew Britton, Nationwide’s General Counsel (Retail), said that he welcomed how the policy had changed over time, but that certain areas needed more clarity. His concerns included the possibility of the duty being applied retrospectively to firms, although this was not intended and the timescale. He favoured a phased implementation plan.

The second part of this blog covering the remainder of the Thursday sessions will be published on Friday 13 May.

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.

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