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A new mutual covenant for a post crisis world

Building Societies Association

3 min read Partner content

Speaking on the third day of the Building Societies Conference 2021, BSA Chief Executive, Robin Fieth reflects on some of the themes for consideration by sector Boards, to create a more balanced, fairer, greener society and lead the way in a new covenant between business, society and government.

The role of mutuals in society - the case for workplace savings

  • 22% of households went into lockdown last March with less than £100 in savings1.
  • Of the 11 million people estimated to have no savings, 7.5 million were in work2.
  • Between March and October 2020 the number of adults with characteristics of vulnerability increased by 3.7 million, reversing the previously positive trend3.

These numbers highlight a situation that may not be a surprise, but is of huge concern.

At the same time the anticipated development of savings platforms with algorithm driven decision making may reduce the links that savers have with deposit taking firms and increase the volatility of retail funding.

Commenting, Robin Fieth said: “Workplace savings could act as a foil to both of these trends and by working with local employers help societies demonstrate a new commitment to their local communities.”

Diversity and inclusion    

The BSA signed up to the Women in Finance Charter back in 2018, but it can only be a step in creating a more diverse BSA team.  All firms face this journey as public and regulator expectations rightly continue to increase. 

Commenting, Robin Fieth said: “There is increasing evidence that boards which are diverse in every sense, deliver better decisions and outcomes.  The challenge extends to leadership teams and the entire workforce too, and whether the diversity that we strive for is related to the demographic of members, communities or the nation as a whole?”

Net zero 2050

It is clear that action is needed, but the move from fine words and sentiment to making Net Zero 2050 a reality will be challenging with many questions to address.

As a lending community can we influence what builders build? Develop our expertise in assessing and mitigating climate change risks in our loan books? And as 80% of the 2050 housing stock has already been built, help our borrowers do what’s necessary?  All while transforming our own businesses to become carbon neutral? 

Commenting Robin Fieth said: “The climate change agenda is only going to grow and is one of the most important issues facing us and our future generations of members.

As is improving the diversity of our leadership and entire workforces; broadening the communities we support; improving financial resilience and widening homeownership.  Committing to achieving these goals is a tangible demonstration from our sector, now, to Building the better, fairer society that we have sought as purpose driven businesses since the foundation of the first building society in 1775.”   


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Engineering a Better World

The Engineering a Better World podcast series from The House magazine and the IET is back for series two! New host Jonn Elledge discusses with parliamentarians and industry experts how technology and engineering can provide policy solutions to our changing world.

NEW SERIES - Listen now