The high street lives on: Building societies reinvigorate local communities, BSA report shows

This report demonstrates why building societies put such an onus on their role in their communities; from providing valued services and skilled employment, to working with and supporting local institutions and infrastructure such as town centres, and looking after the world around us.

Published today, the BSA’s Reinvigorating Communities report shows that:

  • 68% of building society customers feel that their Society is an important part of the community – compared with 47% of big bank customers.
  • 76% of consumers prefer to do business with organisations that support the communities in which they operate.
  • Supporting these sentiments, almost 9 in 10 building societies said that they will maintain or increase their branch network over the next 12 months.

With many high streets in decline, building societies are responding by adapting their branches to serve their members and the local community in different ways.

Community partnerships with local authorities, businesses and schools play a crucial role in creating branch ‘hubs’, resulting in more vibrant town centres and stronger community bonds.

Complementing this, investment in technology is equipping societies to build on digital relationships, and meet the demands of changing consumer behaviour as the use of digital rises.

Mike Regnier, BSA Chairman and Yorkshire Building Society Chief Executive comments:

“The purpose of this report is to help the sector learn from each other. By demonstrating to potential partners how we might work together, we can further strengthen and invigorate our local communities.

“This plays directly into the philosophy of the building society sector: Community and social purpose are the bedrock of building societies and of mutuality.  

 “The landscape of financial services has transformed over the years through shifts in consumer expectation, attitude and public policy. But our ethos of putting our customers first, personal connection and community remain central to what we are.”

Notes to Editors

  • The BSA conducted a survey of its members, both building societies and credit unions, expanding on particularly interesting examples with follow-up questions. 25 BSA members completed the survey, representing over 95% of the sector in terms of assets.
  • Other material originates from an earlier survey of Chief Executives, from society websites, CSR reports and annual reports and accounts. Finally, these sources were complemented with consumer surveys run by YouGov.
  • For the source of all data please refer to the full report here.
  • A short programme, produced by ITN Productions, explores how ‘community’ helps to guide building societies’ business plans, and the intrinsic role societies play in their own communities.