Customers are driving change within traditional financial institutions

Nick Quin

Nick Quin, public affairs manager at Yorkshire Building Society (YBS), believes changes in banking are being driven by customer preferences and behaviours rather than simply advances in technology.

He says: “Some customers will wish to interact with providers exclusively digitally, some face to face or by phone, but probably the largest group will opt for some combination of all three, depending on what they are seeking to achieve.

“We believe the most successful mortgages and savings providers will be those able to offer customers different and interchangeable ways of interacting, aligned with consistent and compelling mortgages and savings accounts.

The YBS Group has worked with FinTech company Salary Finance to launch an innovative scheme to help employers improve the financial wellbeing of their employees by providing an easy-to-use, direct-from-salary regular savings account.

Quin says: “This is targeted at getting people who don’t currently save to build their financial resilience by putting something away every month.”

It has also opened an innovation centre at its head office in Bradford and is increasing ties with the local FinTech sector.

The society also joined a recent Leeds trade mission to Boston, looking at how the sector can benefit from FinTech developments and how it can foster an innovative technology hub for financial services in the region.

Quin adds: “Digital innovation is generally considered to have raised the benchmark for the nature and standards of service and delivery across financial services.

“Automated intelligence, robotics and open data sourcing can provide convenience, personalisation, speed of response and ability to self-serve.

“Many of these technologies are not yet fully mature so we’d see the pace of adoption as an evolution rather than a revolution.

“The development of these digital capabilities is likely to enable the financial services sector to continue to participate in and adapt to the broader evolving digital world, enabling it to stay relevant to customers.”

Fully in the picture

Skipton Building Society is another traditional financial institution that is looking to move with the times.

It is now one of the few financial services providers on the UK high street to offer full mortgage and financial advice video appointments.

David Cutter, Skipton’s group chief executive, said: “Called ‘Skipton Link’, this popular mortgages, investments and pensions service allows our members to link up via video from home or branch with any of our UK branches, Skipton’s head office or home-based financial advisers.

“As a mutual, we will continue reinvesting in our business for the benefit of our members.”

The society, the UK’s fourth largest, increased its membership to more than 971,900, an increase of 52,842 in the first half of this year.

Following approval given by members at their AGM in July, and subject to approval by the Prudential Regulation Authority, Skipton said it remained on track to merge with Holmesdale Building Society in October.