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We see no advantage in being swallowed up by the financial services

Last week Mortgage Strategy ran a Vox Pop asking interested parties whether they thought Standard Life&#39s proposal to demutualise would encourage building societies to follow suit. The majority of responses were in the affirmative so this week in the BSA poses the same question to its members, asking them for their views. As you can see, the association&#39s members say they are committed to remaining mutual – both by name and by nature.

Graeme Dalziel, chief executive, Dunfermline

As far as Dunfermline is concerned, there is no business case to change from being a mutual. We have more than adequate financial strength to go forward and if there was a need for extra capitalisation, it would be more cost-effective to go to the money markets than to consider demutualisation.

Stephen Peete, chief executive, Loughborough

Standard Life&#39s hand has been forced by the new solvency requirements. As a small building society we see no advantage in giving up our mutual status through a flotation or by being swallowed up by the financial services equivalent of Tesco.

Alison Rolls, head of communications, Norwich and Peterborough

It seems a shame that the regulatory regime faced by life insurers has prompted Standard Life&#39s decision. The regime for building societies on the other hand has been settled for some time and we see no reason for Standard Life&#39s actions to generate a wider debate about mutuality – certainly not as far as we are concerned. We have no doubt that continuing as a mutual is best for our members and for our region.

Neville Thompson, chief executive, Earl Shilton

The FSA&#39s spat with Standard Life has done nothing to further the former&#39s duty of maintaining confidence in the mutual sector. Building societies will continue as mutuals to provide consumers with a choice of financial services.

Darren Stevens, assistant general manager (marketing and communications), Chelsea

Chelsea has championed the cause of remaining a mutual and we see no business case for moving away from this. Standard Life&#39s current position is clearly different to ours and we maintain that mutuality gives us the opportunity to continue offering good rates to savers and borrowers alike by not having to pay dividends to shareholders. Ultimately conversion to a plc – by whatever route – would rob future generations of the benefits of mutuality and remove a significant element of competition from a market increasingly dominated by profits-driven banks.

Iain Cornish, chief executive, Yorkshire Building Society

Yorkshire Building Society is wholly committed to remaining mutual. Unlike Standard Life we have no equity market exposure and our financial position is transparent. Our capital isn&#39t dependent on the value of any underlying investments, funds, markets or actuarial assumptions. Our business is low-risk, our capital is strong and we have no constraints on our ability to grow.

Philip Williamson, chief executive, Nationwide

Nationwide is committed to remaining a building society and we have no plans to review our stance on this. We are extremely successful as a mutual – our business model has delivered £2.7bn of member value since 1996. There is simply no business case for conversion.

Peter Griffiths, chief executive, Principality

Our board, following our annual strategic review, has confirmed once again its belief that members&#39 interests are best served by the Principality remaining a mutual society and I wholeheartedly support that view.

Rob Procter, head of commercial lending, Kent Reliance

Realistically most societies are too small to demutualise and survive as plcs. Forwardlooking societies will merge with other mutuals in order to share the costs of compliance and IT. Interestingly, although many building society members have assigned any possible windfall to charity, this does not apply (at least with the Kent Reliance scheme) in the event of a merger with another mutual. Members could therefore receive a bonus and still enjoy the benefits of better mortgage and savings rates without the need to look after the interests of external shareholders.

Philip Dearing, chief executive, Market Harborough

At Market Harborough we remain committed to placing our members&#39 interests at the heart of everything we do, delivering real benefits due to our mutual status. An example of this approach is our policy of offering MPPI at a not for profit price – £1.75 per £100 of mortgage repayment. Some 60% of new mortgage accounts with the society are now covered by this insurance – well over the industry average. Other providers have chosen to charge much higher premiums for this cover with some of the highest being from the former mutuals. At MHBS we remain fully committed to our mutuality and to the benefits it delivers to our members.

David Ginivan, corporate PR manage, Britannia

Britannia has never been as committed to its mutual status as it has been for the past three years. Our new corporate strategy is based on a model that ensures that our members get a good deal through our Membership Reward Scheme and keenly-priced products. At this year&#39s AGM over 284,000 members voted and 95% backed our non-executive board members. This demonstrates that Britannia has a solid mandate from its membership (owners) to continue with its mutual strategy. More widely, there will always be a place for mutuality which plays an important role in providing an alternative to the plc model which is driven by a need for excessive profits and shareholder return.


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