The March of the Mutuals

Robin Fieth, BSA CEO, outlines the sector's ambitions in his Keynote speech at the Building Societies Conference in Manchester.

Robin Fieth, BSA CEO

‘The March of the Mutuals’ 
Building societies aim to double their members in the next 10 years


  • Call for co-operatives and mutuals to be at heart of government strategy and decisions

  • Workplace savings could be key to building household financial resilience

One the first day of the two-day Building Societies Annual Conference in Manchester, the BSA Chief Executive Robin Fieth set out a new vision for the future of building societies, which will see the sector double its number of customers over the next 10 years.

The 42 UK building societies and 7 of the largest credit unions currently have over 26 million customers, with assets of over £507 billion.  The ambitious target the Building Societies Association (BSA) has set will see that number increase to 52 million by 2034.

The Labour Party has already committed to doubling the size of the co-operative and mutual economy, but whatever the outcome of the general election, building societies are set on doubling their membership over the next decade. 

Their different ownership model enables building societies to take a long-term view, which can be reflected in their rates, products and services, and in turn increase consumer choice. So, in collaboration with the wider co-operatives and mutuals sector, they are calling on the next government to take a ‘mutuals first’ approach to policy making and to deliver a legislative and regulatory framework which provides them with a level playing field to compete with shareholder-owned businesses.

Conference delegates heard that doubling customer numbers could, in substantial part, be achieved by addressing the huge societal problem we have in poor household financial resilience. Encouraging regular savings directly through the workplace would underpin the sectors’ role in improving, and building, society. 

The BSA is therefore calling on government to enable auto-enrolment into workplace saving schemes for organisations with over 250 employees. 

Next year, building societies will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the first building society. Throughout their history, they have grown and evolved, whilst remaining resolutely focused on their guiding purpose of delivering benefit to their local communities and wider society. Their appetite to continue on this journey, and deliver at pace, was palpable in the conference hall this afternoon. 

Press contacts:

Tanya Jackson, tanya.jackson@bsa.org.uk Tel: 07881 501098
Katie Wise, katie.wise@bsa.org.uk Tel: 020 7520 5904
Debbie Enever, debbie.enever@bsa.org.uk Tel: 020 7520 5926

Notes to Editors:

Building Societies Association

  • The Building Societies Association (BSA) represents all 42 building societies, as well as 7 of the larger credit unions. 

  • Building societies serve around 26 million consumers across the UK and have total assets of over £507 billion. Together with their subsidiaries, they are helping over 3.5 million families and individuals to buy a home with mortgages totalling over £375 billion, representing 23% of total mortgage balances outstanding in the UK. They are also helping over 23 million people build their financial resilience, holding over £370 billion of retail savings, accounting for 19% of all cash savings in the UK.  Within this, societies account for 40% of all cash ISA balances.

  • With all of their headquarters outside London, building societies employ around 51,500 full and part-time staff.  In addition to digital services they operate through approximately 1,300 branches, holding a 28% share of branches across the UK.

  • You can read the full speech here

Mutuals and Co-operatives

  • In a joint Prospectus the mutual and co-operative sector is calling on the next government to create a meaningful covenant between mutuals and co-operatives, government and society, based on the purpose-driven business model that delivers tangible benefits to our communities and wider society. 

  • Mutual and co-operative businesses make a significant contribution to the UK economy, with combined annual revenues of £87.9 billion, equating to 3.5% of UK GDP.