Building Societies Conference Day 2

Opening Day two of the BSA’s first fully virtual BSA annual conference, BSA Chair, Mike Regnier made a number of observations: 

I am very much looking forward to today.  Under the theme of Strong and Simple – Resilience and Innovation Serving Mutuality we will hear from speakers with a wide range of views and expertise. 

We‘ll consider innovation and the benefits that social purpose, digital and being a part of our local communities offer for future strategic development and for our relevance.

Related to this we will also hear the thoughts of one of our headline sponsors – Target Group - including their views on the role of a true customer-led approach to digitalisation and the effect of the move from a one-to-one to a one-to-many relationship with members.  This is something on our minds as the pace of digital development accelerates. 

And I for one am fascinated to understand more about the whirling maelstrom of politics which is all around us and has been anything but boring in recent months.  It is important to us as the legislative agenda firms up in advance of the Queen’s Speech next week.   

Before all of this, I will be glued to the speech from Sam Woods this morning.  This is for two main reasons. First, we always welcome high level contributions from the PRA – obviously they always have something worthwhile to say, even if it is not always exactly what we want to hear.

Second, anticipation is heightened by the reverberations from two recent ground-breaking speeches on the theme "Strong and Simple". First, the one Sam himself gave at the Mansion House last November. Second – and showing how up to date we are – is Vicky Saporta’s webinar last Thursday afternoon, launching the very welcome discussion paper on this subject.

The thinking in those speeches is truly revolutionary, and we are confident that the best is yet to come! For anyone who hasn’t read them, I’d definitely recommend doing so – each will only take 10 minutes of your time - but they are full of good sense, and free of jargon. The BSA has been entirely supportive of the Strong and Simple initiative, which matches closely with our own advocacy for a more proportionate regulatory regime for smaller, less complex organisations.  For us, as for PRA, it has never been about weakening resilience in any way, but simplifying things.

Our colleagues in the smaller cooperative banks in Continental Europe are also watching the Strong and Simple initiative with admiration and not a little envy, as they see many UK building societies and smaller banks potentially being set free from unproductive complexity.

We now have the discussion paper, and are already engaging with its ideas. In that spirit Sam is especially welcome today.

As strong and prudent organisations we are of course keen to explore all aspects of Strong and Simple.