Press release

Board agendas and new studies at the 2018 BSA Conference

In the opening speech of the two-day BSA Annual Conference in Manchester, BSA Chief Executive Robin Fieth outlined the seven themes which should be on every building society board agenda.

  1. The structural shortage in housing and the need for decent homes for everyone
  2. Sustaining comparative advantage in an increasingly competitive world
  3. Funding and the consumer savings gap
  4. Digital technology, increasing processing capability and the implications
  5. Talent development and diversity
  6. Resilience, security and operational efficiency, and
  7. Customer ownership and an engaged membership

He also announced the commissioning of two new studies, one each in the primary business areas for building societies – retail savings and mortgages:

In retail savings

The UK has a severe savings resilience problem:

  • 31% of households have no cash savings at all¹
  • 18% of households earning over £55,000 a year have no cash savings¹
  • 23% of UK workers do not save any of their income each month²
  • 13 million people would not have savings to support themselves for a month if their income fell by 25%³

The BSA is commissioning Toynbee Hall to undertake research, building on their 2017 Savings for the future report.

Robin Fieth said:  “With support from the Building Societies Trust, we are commissioning follow-up research to explore how building societies and credit unions can make a real positive impact in developing the UK’s savings culture.  This will build on existing action by building societies that are already providing small value regular savings accounts and payroll deduction savings accounts.”

In mortgages

Societal changes mean that mortgage lending needs to develop.  We have an ageing population and a housing challenge being experienced by younger people. At the same time the housing shortage continues:

  • Building societies hold 22% of all mortgage balances in a £1.4 trillion market4
  • The average age of a first time buyer has risen from 30 to 33 between 2006/7 and 2016/175
  • By 2030 it is forecast that borrowing by those aged 20-29 will halve6

The BSA is commissioning Bob Pannell, formerly of the CML, an economist and housing and mortgage expert and Dick Jenkins, former Chief Executive of the Bath Building Society to conduct a study on intergenerational mortgages.

Robin Fieth said: “Inequality between the generations is a growing challenge in our society. I asked the BSA team what it might take to bring the average age of a first time buyer down and importantly what we as a sector might do to contribute directly.  Bob Pannell and Dick Jenkins will be exploring potential new ways for building societies to help the older generation support and broaden the housing choices of the young.”



Hilary McVitty, BSA Head of External Affairs Tel: 07507 837 326

Amy McCluskey, BSA Press & Publications Officer Tel: 07775 537 630

Notes to Editors

¹Ipsos Mori: 2,245 adults aged 16-75 in the UK surveyed online 13-17 October 2017

²Deadline to the Breadline 2017 – Legal & General (2017)

³Life on the Edge: towards more resilient family finances – StepChange (2014)

4BSA Q4 Lending statistics

5English Housing Survey 2016/17

6Lengthening the ladder: the future of mortgage borrowing in older age – International Longevity Centre UK (2017)


Hilary McVitty

Head of External Affairs

Tel: 0207 520 5926

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