Press release

Cass Business School: Building societies are fit for the future

10 September 2015
Building societies outperform banks across a number of financial indicators, according to a new report by Cass Business School, City University London.
An Analysis of the Relative Performance of UK Banks and Building Societies finds that building societies have recovered well from the financial turmoil during and after the financial crisis, are less risky than banks and are ready to face regulatory pressure and reform challenges in the future.
Report Author, Dr Barbara Casu, Director of Cass Centre for Banking Research, said:
"The results of our in-depth comparative analysis of banks and building societies (using a wide variety of lending, performance and risk metrics) show that building societies perform well over different phases in the business cycle. As such building societies continue to play an integral role in supplying financial services to households throughout the UK.”
The report, produced independently by Cass, but made possible by funding from the Building Societies Association, shows:
  • That building societies typically have a lower net interest margin than banks, as they tend to offer higher saving rates and/or lower mortgage rates to their customers, providing a better deal for consumers.
  • The results show that the z-scores (an increasingly popular measure of bank stability) for building societies are significantly higher than those of banks over the sample period, indicating that building societies are, on average, less risky than banks.
  • Although lower on average, building societies’ returns are more stable and recover faster than those of banks.
  • Building societies are just as efficient as banks. Building societies cost to income ratios are not, on average, higher than those of banks, with the sector displaying good levels of efficiency with ratios around 60% on average during the sample period.
  • The sector recovered from the financial turmoil faster than their banking counterparts. Building societies have more stable asset growth than banks. Fast asset and lending growth are often considered as indicators of increased risk-taking in the financial sector.
Commenting on the report, BSA Chief Executive, Robin Fieth, said:
"The findings in the Cass Business School report help demonstrate the diversity that building societies bring. The sector has a different approach to doing business, offering choice and competition for consumers no matter where they live in the UK.
“In the years following the financial crisis of 2007 and the banking scandals that continue to occupy the headlines, attributes such as "more stable" and "less risky" are often what people want to hear when it comes to their financial providers. When weighing up the shape of the financial services sector, we urge the Government, opinion-formers and policy-makers to take research of this nature into account, ensuring our sector - with its distinct purpose and customer-owned mutual business model - has the recognition and support it needs to continue offering a better deal for consumers.”


Take a look at the summary report, here.

Media enquiries

HIlary McVitty
Head of External Affairs, BSA
020 7520 5926

Julia Harris
Senior Communications Officer, Cass Business School
07794 053384

 Notes to Editors The Building Societies Association (BSA) is the trade association for all 44 UK building societies.  It also has two credit union members. Its objective is to be a voice for the sector, working with a wide range of stakeholders to drive the best outcomes possible in terms of regulation and legislation. The BSA also speaks out on issues relevant to its members and provides them with technical information.

The Centre for Banking Research at Cass Business School promotes high calibre academic research in the field of banking. It also fosters the teaching of banking subjects to a high standard. Drawing on the wide experience of its core and associate members, the Centre offers expert analysis of the economic and business environment that affects the banking and financial sector.  @Cassinthenews


Hilary McVitty

Head of External Affairs

Tel: 0207 520 5926

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