Mutuals are modernising – Mortgage Finance Gazette

Mutuals are modernising – Mortgage Finance Gazette

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Ahmed Michla,
Head of Marketing and Communications,

We’re coming up to the annual Building Societies Association conference, held this year in Liverpool, and it looks set to be an impressive line-up.

The BSA conference is always interesting and insightful, bringing in voices from outside the mortgage market bubble and helping us all to think more broadly about the business challenges we face.

This year it’s particularly important that we should broaden our thinking, so we find the best and most appropriate ways to help borrowers navigate their way through a very difficult period.

Recession, inflation – despite the likelihood of it decelerating this year – and much higher interest rates are going to put enormous pressure on affordability across the income spectrum.

All when we’re intensely focused on getting in line ready for the consumer duty rules this summer.

It’s going to get harder before it gets better and, unfortunately, lenders are expected to handle a growing number of customers in trouble and new regulatory regime at the same time.

For many smaller mutuals, this prospect is daunting – rightly so. But we have been encouraged by how willing the mutual sector has been to embrace change – and specifically how clued up mutual leaders are when it comes to keeping their services fit for the future.

Historically, systems transformation has been cumbersome, expensive and the results less than perfect. Yet technology is probably the most essential element boards must consider in running a business today.

Data security, customer privacy, competitive resilience, service standards, speed and agility, adaptability, compliance, efficiency and ultimately survival – technology is the backbone of getting all these things right.

It’s also the only consistent way to evidence that your business is getting them right.

That’s important day in day out, but with rising arrears management and frequent repricing now the reality facing lenders, that evidence is fundamental.

There’s a tendency in our market to consider wholesale new technology, process and customer experience the preserve of new lenders. But the appetite for change extends across mutual sector at the moment. SaaS technology is offering a business model that significantly lowers the barriers to entry to new technology. It also offers the opportunity to rewrite processes and systems that have often been in place for too long and cost too much to change.

Increasingly building societies are choosing to modernise and are a long way down the road of adopting new platforms and technology to create a new operational model that will allow them to compete whatever the market weather taking advantage of the scalability and robustness of new IT business models.

Come the May conference, it will be interesting to see just how engaged with and invested in better technology the mutual sector has become. Far from sleepy high street branch. Mutuals are modernising.

Ahmed Michla,
Head of Marketing and Communications,

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