Originally published in BSA Society Matters magazine.
Given that savings are at the heart of our sector, it is little wonder that building societies offer a multitude of innovative savings initiatives.
Here we explore some examples of how our sector helps to promote healthy savings habits across the board. This includes encouraging healthy savings habits amongst younger savers, as well as providing unique accounts that enable members’ savings to make a difference to their local communities, or in wider-ranging issues close to their hearts.
Melton Mowbray Building Society: Wild young savers
"Five years ago we formed a unique partnership with our local Wildlife Trusts to raise funds to protect wildlife, encourage enjoyment of the natural world and increase awareness of the Trusts. We have initiated a number of activities to support the partnership, including providing Wild Ones packs for children who open a Young Savers Account. The packs contain a pocket wildlife guide, wildflower seeds, notebook and more to encourage young people to enjoy wildlife and get into the habit of saving. We are also offering customers a discounted Family Membership of a number of local Wildlife Trusts.
"The partnership has continued to evolve and last year we launched a Wildlife Fund to provide opportunities for school children to learn outside and broaden their knowledge and understanding of wildlife. We invited local primary schools to apply for a share of the Fund and thirteen local primary schools have received grants to create or improve wildlife learning areas or take part in a Forest School. The Wildlife Fund is also a natural extension to our financial education programme that delivers an ongoing school bank service to local primary schools and financial education to local secondary schools."
Buckinghamshire Building Society: Saving points means prizes
"We realised early that encouraging young children into savings habits needs to be fun! With this in mind we launched our Saturday Savers Club. Any child under the age of 16 can join. Each child is given a savings card, and every time they visit the branch to deposit their pocket, birthday or odd job money they are given a sticker. When 10 stickers have been collected the child is rewarded with a ‘club gift’ and they are given their next card. This recognition programme is not limited to a Saturday and we have various gifts available the more times they save, (however small the amount) including pens, pencils, rulers, bubbles and our Piggy bank, “Mr Banks”.
"In addition, our Saturday Savers stall has been to many local community events to promote the “Saving Early” message. Sam Canning, Savings Team Leader comments: “We wanted to make the experience of coming to the branch enjoyable and fun. We believe that by setting savings goals early on in a child’s life we can help to financially educate children.”
Ecology Building Society: Savings for the planet
"The pressure on the financial services sector to develop sustainable economies and empower people to build better futures is mounting. For Ecology Building Society, environmental and social sustainability have been the driving force behind our operations since we opened our doors in 1981. And our ethos is clearly striking a chord with ethically motivated savers: 30-year-old electrochemist and electric vehicle battery engineer, Dr Euan McTurk, comments: “I chose to save with Ecology after losing patience with my old bank, which closed multiple branches near me and heavily invested my savings in coal projects. This prompted me to find a savings provider that would invest my savings in a responsible and positive manner.
“Ecology invests in people who have the ambition to build efficient, modern houses that are fit for today. There is nothing controversial about supporting the building of homes that are well insulated, highly efficient and cheap to run… I’m delighted that my savings are enabling this.” For savers like Euan, both the ethos of Ecology combined with the reciprocity built into the building society model are attractive. It goes beyond saving: it is saving with a purpose that is close to people’s hearts. This is a space that we will continue to support and innovate in."
Coventry Building Society: Saving from school
"When it comes to saving for life, we think it’s vital to encourage saving as early as possible. Our Money Management programme does just that, making a real difference in our local communities. Over the past two years we’ve delivered money management sessions to 460 children, ranging from Reception to Year 6, in primary schools in Coventry led by our own employees. The sessions are designed to help children think about the importance of money, how to budget and saving for the future. Feedback indicates that it’s made a real difference in not only increasing financial literacy for pupils, but also raising their aspirations for the future.
"We’re also expanding the programme into five secondary schools for the next academic year. The programme will follow the same format, but will reflect the different needs of older pupils, looking at topics like why we need money, how to save, the financial implications of work and how to interpret a payslip. We also incorporate financial literacy into our community activity, including fraud awareness sessions through to activities on budgeting or saving for school or community groups who visit our head offices."
Dudley Building Society: Savings at their heart
"For over 160 years, we have served the needs of different generations, encouraging people to save with a range of tailored products that complement lifestyle choices. We champion creative ways of saving, and we provide further savings options for our loyal members. Considering the introduction of the Personal Savings Allowance (PSA), that some commentators suggested would be the end of ISAs, savers are still determined to make their money work hard for them. We recently saw the most successful ISA season in the Society’s history proving there is still plenty of demand for this part of the savings market.
"By picking up the British Bank Award for Customer Service Champion, we believe there is still a longstanding need for a quality, personalised service. Time and time again, we are praised for our human approach – being able to speak to friendly, knowledgeable staff who genuinely care about our members. As a Society, we are working hard to invest in digital modernisation to ensure we remain relevant and innovative for many years to come."
Read the Society Matters autumn 2019 edition here.