To say the early May bank holiday week was a busy one for us at Smart Money People would be an understatement. On the 8 and 9 May, we were delighted to be a headline sponsor for the Building Societies Annual Conference in Manchester. The two day conference is the leading event in the sector bringing together over 800 chairs, chief executives and directors from Building Societies Association (BSA) member organisations and executives from organisations that work with the mutuals sector.

The 9 May happened to also be the date of our tenth annual British bank awards in London, meaning many of our team were divided up between the north and the south!

Our commitment to the sector

Building societies has always been a key sector for us, and we’re proud to already partner with around 55% of the industry. Earlier this year, we become associate members of the BSA. Our membership demonstrates our deep relationship with the sector, and how we're committed to helping building societies deliver better outcomes with our data and insight. And being a headline sponsor at the Building Societies Annual Conference elevated our support even further.

We always look forward to exhibiting at events, and this conference gave us the chance to network with our key clients and discuss the challenges facing the mutuals sector. With the July deadline approaching, Consumer Duty was unsurprisingly a hot topic of conversation. It was pleasing to hear how so many of our clients already recognise the value of regular data and insight. Not just to keep the regulator happy, but because they genuinely want to learn how they can better serve their customers. Other popular areas of discussion included digital transformation and financial education.

Sharing our insights

As a headline sponsor, our involvement in the conference went beyond exhibiting. On Thursday we hosted a lunch with key partners, where we showcased our latest savings research. The research was a joint study with Be Clever With Your Cash – an award-winning money blog founded by Andy Webb, and part of the Smart Money People Group.

We also took part in two panel discussions. First up was Smart Money People’s Head of Business Development Jess Rushton. The panel considered what needs to change to help lenders better support those looking to buy their first home. Jess reminded us that whilst saving to get on the property ladder is important, first time buyers should also be mindful of the importance of having savings to equip them for general life emergencies. She also noted that while lenders are using both innovation and technology to support borrowers, they need to take brokers on the journey with them. Otherwise, customers will only see opinions on things like 100% mortgages and open banking from the press and social media – rather than the experts.

The next discussion involved Be Clever With Your Cash’s Deputy Editor Amelia Murray. The panel shared perspectives on building households’ financial resilience, and what can be done to help the nation get into the savings habit. This is an extremely important topic, particularly as we were told that research shows a link between regular saving and better wellbeing. Amelia didn’t shy away from the tough questions at hand. When asked how we get people saving that are hard to reach, she challenged that we need to understand what’s holding them back, whether it’s down to technology, distrust of institutions, income, time or accessibility. And then work from there to tailor the message. Amelia explained that often the savings message feels bland and comes from institutions who’ll benefit from the money, which explains why consumers increasingly want to hear from independent sources like Be Clever With Your Cash.

A memorable experience

Both Jess and Amelia shared thought provoking insights as part of the panel discussion, and the rest of the Smart Money People team gained valuable information from their own discussions with clients. The two day event concluded with a fabulous dinner at Manchester Cathedral, an incredible venue befitting of the occasion. We’d like to thank the BSA for hosting a fantastic event, and a big thank you to everyone who took the time to speak to us.

If you saw us at the event and would like to follow up on our discussion, email [email protected]