Building Societies Conference round-up: Day One

We look back at an superb couple of days in Manchester, providing an overview of the thought-provoking keynotes and breakout sessions.

The Building Societies Annual Conference took place last week in Manchester. Running over two days, delegates heard from a range of keynote speakers and had the opportunity to join a great choice of breakout sessions. The exhibition hall was the place to be in between the sessions with a large number of exhibitors ready to share their knowledge, products and services. The event closed with the Conference Dinner, which was held in the stunning setting of Manchester Cathedral.

Here, we take a look back at all of the sessions from Day One - you can find links to the full summaries below.

Welcome and Opening Keynote

Rob Pheasey, Building Societies Association Chair and Chief Executive of Marsden Building Society

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester

Robin Fieth, Building Societies Association Chief Executive

Rob Pheasey opened the 2024 Building Societies Annual Conference noting that this was by far the biggest conference to date, with a record 1,000+ delegates registered over the two days and over 70 speakers ready to lead the many different sessions. 

He then reflected on what the sector – building societies and credit unions – has achieved since the last conference, and what the year ahead might hold.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, then took to the stage to speak to delegates about the 'Importance of Place' and how he believes the devolution of power and decision-making creates opportunities for building societies, credit unions and combined authorities to work together for the benefit of everyone locally. 

Robin Fieth, BSA Chief Executive, then delivered his keynote speech, entitled 'The March of the Mutuals'.

Read the full summary here

Panel Debate: What should the Chancellor do?

Andrew Gall, Head of Savings and Economics, Building Societies Association (Chair)

Professor Trevor Williams, Economist, Visiting Professor and Author

Lydia Prieg, Head of Economics, New Economics Foundation

Two economic experts were given the opportunity to set the economy on a new path, shedding light on the choices and challenges facing the next Government.

First to take to the stage was Lydia Prieg who began by highlighting what she believes are the four key crisis the UK is facing – stagnant wages and productivity, an ageing population, climate change and housing - and then turned her attention to the potential solutions and whether or not the UK can afford them. Professor Trevor Williams was up next, and began his speech by outlining what he believes are the UK’s three big problems – poor productivity, the housing crisis and an ageing population.

Read the full summary here

Breakout sessions

How well do you understand the impact of climate change on risk management? Exploration and advancement of climate risk analytics for the building society sector.

Paul Broadhead, Head of Mortgage and Housing Policy, BSA (Chair)

Professor Iain Clacher, Professor of Pensions & Finance, University of Leeds

Professor Jason Lowe OBE, Head of Climate Services for Government, Met Office and Chair in Interdisciplinary Climate Research, Priestley Centre, University of Leeds

Chair Paul Broadhead opened the session by introducing a collaboration between the BSA and the UK Centre for Greening Finance (CGFI). The CGFI was established to accelerate the adoption and use of climate and environmental data and analytics by financial institutions internationally. Through the partnership the CGFI hopes to begin to understand the risks and challenges the financial sector faces which is essential for our members – for both the business and membership.  

The purpose is to enhance awareness amongst BSA members of climate risk, build the capacity needed to assess and quantify that risk and to facilitate collaboration amongst members, policymakers and stakeholders.

Read the full summary here

Navigating operational resilience: are you operationally resilient enough?

Thomas Lemon, Managing Director, UK Country Market Leader, Protiviti (Chair)

Laura Moore, Managing Director, Protiviti

David Gardner, Partner, Tech, IP & Data, TLT LLP

Steve O’Regan, Group Chief Risk Officer, Skipton Group

Operational disruptions can cause damage to customers, market integrity and the stability of firms. With the implementation date of the next phase of the Operational Resilience rules coming up in March 2025, the panel discussed the importance of moving to a truly embedded culture for Operational Resilience. 

Read the full summary here

The future of savings

Chair: Stuart Miller, Newcastle Strategic Solutions Ltd

Panel: Peter Neufield, EY; Daniel Rose, Doshi App Ltd; Joss Tasker, Sync Saver 

In this breakout session, our experts shared their thoughts on some of the key questions relating to the future of savings. The panel discussed the biggest opportunities and threats for the sector in relation to savings, and explored trends coming down the tracks and key areas to focus on to grow future membership.

Read the full summary here

Opening the door to Open Finance: understanding the impact of Open Finance in the cash savings market on the building society business model

Chair: Amber Boodt, Head of Digital Payments - Nationwide

Leon Ifayemi, Director of Coalitions and Research – Centre for Financial Innovation and Technology

Kristine Appleton, Economist – Frontier Economics

In the final session of the day, economic consultancy, Frontier Economics, talked through the research it has recently completed for the BSA which modelled the impact of Open Finance in the cash savings market, in particular the impact on building societies, which have around 20% of the savings market. 

Open Finance is an expansion of Open Banking to other services such as savings, where third party providers (TPPs), can move customer money, including opening accounts. 

Read the full summary here

Summaries of the Day 2 Keynote and Breakout sessions will be published in the coming days.


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