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60 seconds with… David Webster, chairman, Building Societies Association

You were chairman of the Building Societies Association in 2010-11 and now again in 2012-13, how does it feel to be back in the hot seat?

I feel privileged to be asked to return as BSA chairman. I really enjoyed it last time and l learnt a lot. Hopefully I can hit the ground running and help reinforce the mutuality message at a time when PLC competitors remain disorientated by the public’s disillusionment and their own internal challenges.

What are the priorities for societies in the next 12 months?
As the regulatory landscape changes, societies will want to prepare for and adapt to the fresh demands of the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulatory Authority. Mutuals are well placed to demonstrate their resilience and customer focus at a time when customer trust in the financial services industry is rare and fragile.

Do you expect more consolidation in the sector?
There has always been some consolidation in the sector but I don’t expect the natural rate to accelerate, nor do I see any shrinkage in the mutual sector’s customer base.

How fierce do you expect the retail deposit market to be this year?
The ferocity of competition for retail funds is now the norm. Whether it is explicit or implicit government guarantees to the state-supported banks or the exuberant use of National Savings & Investments, we have grown accustomed to irrational competitive pressures in our core savings market and I don’t see that abating.

If you were in charge of the Financial Services Authority for a day, what would you do?
I’d ask all my colleagues to stop what they are doing and sit back and reflect on the need for a proportional approach to regulation.

What is the best advice you have ever received?
Surround yourself with as many great people as you can, and work as hard as you can to develop and motivate them.

Which three people, dead or alive, would you invite to a dinner party and why?
Nelson Mandela, a statesman and the only politician I have ever admired, Martin Scorsese, the greatest living film director, and David Bowie, the most influential musician of my generation.

What book are you reading?
The Tin-Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke, a superb novel set in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Interview by Samuel Dale


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