Press release

Role of building societies in diverse market better understood: regulation remains a threat

18 May 2016

Opening the Building Societies Association (BSA) Annual Conference at The Sage, Gateshead today, Robin Fieth, BSA Chief Executive will say to delegates that a lack of trust still pervades modern society, whether in banking, taxation, international relations or domestic politics.  But research shows that the building society movement stands out as one of the most trusted part of the financial services sector.

Commenting on sector performance and next steps, Robin Fieth commented. “Above all this year we have started to see a real and positive shift in perceptions about the vital role of building societies as part of a truly competitive and resilient 21st Century UK financial services system.    The Government’s willingness to support the additional competition clause for regulators in the new Bank of England & Financial Services Act is evidence of this. 

“But this is progress that we cannot allow to be threatened by a regulatory environment that sees a large society having to spend £45 per million of assets on the staff needed to implement new financial regulation and a small society ten times as much.  Regulation should be both proportionate to the size and complexity of a financial services business and appropriate to its legal form.  These are factors that affect building societies as established challengers and the newer challenger banks too.  Getting this right will deliver for consumers with increased innovation and competition, and for the UK as a whole through increased market resilience.

“I think we already have a lot of pieces of the jigsaw, but it’s not yet all put together.  We are moving in the right direction with 2015 another year of strong financial performance.  Societies have added further strength to their capital reserves which in the right regulatory environment will create capacity to invest in successful, dynamic, growing futures.” 


Press Contacts:
Hilary McVitty, Head of External Affairs, Tel: 07507 837 326
Katie Wise, External Affairs Officer, Tel: 0207 520 5904

Notes to Editors:

1. A copy of the full speech will be available in the media centre at 12pm.
2. The Bank of England & Financial Services Act received Royal Assent on 4 May 2016.  It   requires the regulators to consider corporate diversity and mutuality specifically as part of an extended competition duty.  Specifically this Act amends the competition requirements in the Financial Services and Markets Act as follows: Regulatory principles: diversity
(1)Section 3B of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (regulatory principles to be applied by both regulators) is amended as follows.
(2)In subsection (1)(f) after “persons” insert “(including different kinds of person such as mutual societies and other kinds of business organisation)”.
(3)After subsection (3) insert—“(3A)Mutual society” has the same meaning as in section 138K.”

3. Chart demonstrating service metrics follows:  Combined data from 4 waves of consumer research conducted in June, September and December 2015 and March 2016 by Canadean Consumer, 2,000 consumers surveyed in each wave.


Hilary McVitty

Head of External Affairs

Tel: 0207 520 5926

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