Building societies: What sets them apart?

By Mark Thomson

30 July 2015

Mark Thomson, CEO of Scottish Building Society, discusses the fundamental purpose of a building society and why it is a better choice of financial provider.

There is a worthiness about mutuality and building societies that belies the hugely significant contribution they make to the financial landscape in Britain today, and the very real choice they offer both savers and borrowers. 

Whilst people warm to the idea of 'mutuality' - a business owned by its customers, or members, unlike banks which need to satisfy the demands of shareholders first  - there are other reasons why modern day building societies should not be overlooked. 

For a start, the fundamental purpose of a building society is to improve people's lives, and that can only be good news for customers.

People require mortgage finance to fulfil their dreams of home ownership, while others require a safe home for their hard-earned savings.

Being able to provide both in a fair and responsible manner makes building societies as relevant today as they have ever been, and potentially a better choice than a bank.

They have a significant role to play in creating vibrancy and diversity in the financial services market through their ability to offer a personalised local service, where every member is treated as an individual.

Smaller building societies are not there to challenge the banks across their entire product range, but to offer the consumer a genuine alternative provider of financial services and products.

Building societies are nimble and well equipped to innovate and specialise in niche areas of mortgage lending that may be seen as too risky by major lenders, such as people aged over 65, self-build enthusiasts and guarantor mortgages.

The result is lower administration costs which filter through to improved rates for savers.

When you choose a building society over a bank, you can expect fair rates on your savings, and will be given a fair hearing should you wish to borrow money.

However, there is something else that building societies excel at, and that has been at the heart of the movement since the beginning. Building societies support the communities they serve by investing money usually paid to shareholders in their customers, and not just as a box-ticking exercise.  

Scottish Building Society are working with ICAS to provide access to exclusive mortgage solutions for ICAS members. If you would like to find out more, visit the Scottish Building Society page or the Scottish Building Society website.

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