New Technology & Traditional Values

New Technology & Traditional Values
The Winning Combination for Building Society Sector 

Combining new technology with traditional values is the winning formula for the building society sector, which is enjoying a healthy growth in market share this year.

That was the upbeat message from the Building Societies Association’s annual conference in Manchester, a two day gathering which more than 500 executives from the UK’s 44 building societies attended.

The latest lending and savings figures from the BSA for Q1 2018 show that the societies, which last year had a 22 per cent share of the £1.4tr UK mortgage market, were accountable for 43 per cent of its growth – and took 40 per cent of cash savings deposits – between January and March.

Industry leaders believe the increased trust consumers have in building societies over the larger banks is one of the key factors in this growth in market share, a trend which the recent TSB online banking debacle will surely have only aided.

But there is also a recognition that the sector needs to move ever quickly on the adoption of digital technology to meet the demands of the tech-savvy digital consumer preferring a responsive banking app to a passbook at the counter.

One of the keynote speakers, Nationwide Chief Executive Joe Garner, wrote in his conference blog: “We must be able to adapt to members’ changing needs, whilst retaining the essence of our heritage and our humanity…Our goal is digital convenience with a human touch, a service enabled by technology, and made meaningful by people.”

In 2015, the Nationwide committed to invest £500m into its branch network, introducing new technology such as Nationwide Now which combines market leading technology and human service.

But what about the other mutuals? How are they embracing FinTech? By being, well, innovative. They are courting the technology incubators and collaborating with the digital disruptors. Combining new technology with the popularity of local branches offering face-to-face customer service is the key.

In April the Coventry Building Society launched a recruitment drive for more than 80 head office IT roles, increasing personnel at its UK-based IT department to nearly 450 – double its size just three years ago. The positions include system delivery engineers, analysts, cloud specialists, IT security specialists and IT architects.

Meanwhile last month the Cambridge Building Society returned to its roots by launching a new city centre branch close to its original offices which opened in 1884. But following a model that worked for a relaunch of its St Ives store in 2017, the new branch offers customers digital and assisted-service technology as well as face-to-face expertise.

Andy Jukes, Head of Direct Distribution, said it “combines technology with expertise from our team members – something we know is valued by customers”.

Bank of mum and dad ninth biggest mortgage lender

And what about the financial needs of borrowers? People struggling to afford a mortgage or deposit was the subject of a recently released report by Legal & General which revealed that the ninth highest mortgage lender this year will be neither a bank nor a building society.

With £5.7bn of lending for £81bn of property purchases and an average ‘loan’ of £18,000, the bank of mum and dad is in the top ten mortgage lenders list.

The report found more than a quarter of housing transactions are dependent on financial help, with 43% of buyers aged 35 to 44 and 26% of those aged 45 to 54 relying on support from their family.

With the average age of a first time buyer having risen from 30 to 33 between 2006 and 2017 and a forecast that borrowing by people in their 20s will halve by 2030, the BSA has commissioned a study on intergenerational mortgages describing inequality between the generations as ‘a growing challenge in our society’.

Financial Services dinner

HW Global Talent Partner will be hosting an industry dinner in London in September. The informal networking event offers an excellent opportunity to make new executive and non-executive industry contacts.

Guest speaker is David Stewart, Chairman of Enra Group and Chair of the Audit and Risk Committees of M&S Bank, HSBC Private Bank (UK), and LSL Property Services plc., and former Chief Executive of Coventry Building Society. He will talk on how he managed to create a non-conflicting NED portfolio in financial services.

The event, which is aimed at helping FS executives to launch and develop their NED careers, is being held in Mayfair on Wednesday September 12th with drinks and canapes from 6.30pm. If you would like to attend please contact darceyl@hwglobalpartner.com as there are only a few remaining places.

To find out how we can help your business, or if you want to discuss executive search, interim or NED opportunities, contact MD of HW Interim and Head of the Financial Services practice John Wakeford via his LinkedIn page, email johnw@hwglobalpartner.com or call +44 (0) 113 243 2004 for an informal discussion.

Middle Management: Searching for that New Position

Middle Management: Searching for that New Position

If you are looking for a new role in middle management and have been finding it difficult to find vacancies that are relevant to your skills and experience maybe you should consider getting in touch with a specialist recruitment agency, as they already have links with many businesses and organisations they will often get information about new job openings as soon as they become available.

Not only will using an executive recruitment agency to help you find your next middle management position make you far more likely to find suitable posts, you will also be able to get any help or advice that you may need to make sure that you are getting the positions that you deserve and receive all the information and guidance that you may need when starting out on a new role so your career can really start taking the right direction.

No matter why you are looking for a new job or what industry you work within as recruitment agency’s get information about a wide range of available jobs you can be sure that they will be likely to find you a role that matches your existing skill set and experience so you can keep adding relevant new skills to your CV. With a range of temporary and permanent contracts often available you will also find that a recruitment agency is going to be likely to be able to find you flexible employment that fits in with your lifestyle, which is ideal if you have other responsibilities.

Whether you just fancy a change, are just starting out or are returning to work after a break a good recruitment agency will be able to help you get the roles that will help you to take your career further, with many short term contracts coming up with an immediate start to provide cover sometimes these can be an ideal way to add important experience to your CV across a range of different settings.

So if you are looking for a position within middle management and would like a bit of help finding suitable work why not consider signing up with a recruitment agency? With so many vacancies being listed with them as soon as they become available you are sure to find a really good role much more quickly than using other more traditional methods.

eCommerce Investment the Key to Getting Closer to the Consumer

eCommerce Investment the Key to Getting Closer to the Consumer

Stuart Richards, a consultant in the Global Consumer practice at HW Global Talent Partner, answers questions on eCommerce in one of their most recent latest blogs.

What do you think is the single biggest issue right now for the retail and consumer industry?

All our clients are looking at ways to get closer to the consumer. To do this, most are embracing digital transformation, by investing in technology and talent, building capability and leverage data and analytics in order to drive innovation and grow the bottom line. Boards are faced with the choice, whether to trade through an etailer partner (Amazon or Alibaba) or a direct-to-customer approach.

Why are so few firms getting eCommerce right and what can they learn from those who are?

Some businesses have just been too slow to react to emerging technology and the changing consumer demand it is driving, but to be fair it is all still relatively new and constantly changing. Many are still not prepared to invest sufficiently in digital transformation, and risk being left behind by more forward thinking competitors. As the world’s largest eCommerce business with $80bn in annual sales, Amazon can afford to invest heavily and take risks on innovation. Recent additions like the Dash Button and Prime Air are truly ground-breaking and potentially game changing. Another eCommerce success story is Liverpool-based Shop Direct, which has just been named OC&C pureplay etailer of the year for the third time running. This summer it is opening a hub in London’s Victoria to house 250 staff working on data, eCommerce, IT, brand and product to develop new paths in retail technology innovation, including investment in advanced analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Shop Direct was praised by award judges for doing ‘pioneering things’ and entering the digital era ‘in style, going further than almost any business’. It is a great example of a business that recognised the need to move away from its catalogue/DM focused heritage and invest in technology to become a class-leading eCommerce player.

What do you see as the biggest emerging issue for the sector?

Investment. Boards need to look beyond the current 3-5% that their digital channels may currently account for and instead focus on the potential 70% growth they could generate with appropriate investment. Some firms are even retracting from eCommerce strategies, failing to recognise the positive impact on the overall business across the entire channel mix.

What are the key challenges facing global consumer giants in terms of eCommerce?

These will centre on harnessing technology to get closer to the consumer, making the customer journey as straight forward as possible. Recent Amazon innovations such as the Dash Button remove the hassle of mundane tasks like going to buy washing powder when you run out. In a recent blog Keith Higgins, Global EVP eCommerce, Omni-Channel, Smart Data at Unilever, highlighted the mobile phone, voice activation and the use of smart data to enable targeted interactions as being key to the future development of eCommerce.

Is there a dearth of talent in the digital director role, making it a highly competitive market for executive search?

It is definitely a candidate-led market and there are opportunities across the consumer landscape. But it is such a diverse function that requires a complex set of skills (trading, P&L ownership, strategic capability building and execution, marketing and analytics) that finding a well-rounded professional can be a real challenge. It is perhaps not surprising we have former employees of global eCommerce leaders like Amazon and eBay on most shortlists. Recent assignments for global CPG businesses have included global e-commerce director positions in London and New York, a global head of data & analytics working between the UK and US, CMI director positions in France, Belgium and London, a European digital marketing director, and a measurement & analytics director based in Chicago. Because of our track record delivering executive hires for tier one global retailers and CPG businesses, we are able to add genuine insight in a truly consultative way, identifying strategic goals and finding the best talent globally to add value to the bottom line.

Contact Stuart Richards at stuartr@hitchenorwakeford.com or on +44 (0) 7787 254 600 for a confidential discussion or visit the HW Executive Search & Interim Management services website for more information.