Product innovations have thrust even the most traditional of building societies successfully into the modern mortgage and savings market. Keeping up with the fast pace of technology, however, can be a challenge. Especially when members – like the rest of the world – have such high expectations of technology in every aspect of their lives, including how they borrow and save money.

Technology for humanity

Technology can help support so many areas that are core to a building society’s mission and purpose. Process automation and quick access to trusted, manageable data are key to balancing out and supporting the important, human side of building societies.

Automated processes are cutting out the bulk of manual, repetitive tasks and heavy lifting around, for example, back office processes such as servicing mortgages and savings accounts.

Once member assets are being serviced efficiently, the business is then free to focus on the people side of the business – on the customer management and community relations for which building societies have long been lauded.

No band aid required

To compete with the trendy fintechs attracting today’s tech-savvy TikTok generation with their two-click self-help services, it can be tempting for building societies to take a band aid approach to their legacy systems.

However, adding new layers of technology onto older systems will inherently be slow, time-consuming and dependant on manual intervention. Ultimately, this approach is not cost-effective.

Instead, in a world where speed, security, resilience and API integration are driving smooth and efficient customer experiences, the smart building societies are collaborating with trusted partners who can provide them with cloud-first Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions.

The modern mutual

Many societies have already transitioned into a ‘modern mutual’ business. They have integrated traditional, branch-based member services with new digital channels – all delivered over the Internet. This has mainly been possible now that forward-thinking building societies have overcome earlier barriers to digital transformation and cloud technology.

A collective consortium

The cost of digital transformation is one barrier that may still exist, however. This is often particularly true for small and medium sized building societies who recognise that investment in technology is critical, yet the cost can seem prohibitive.

One solution for this is to form a collective consortium with a small group of building societies. This collective approach to implementing, scaling and sharing services creates lower costs for each society, while still allowing them the autonomy to function as separate businesses.

Digitised property data

It is a very exciting time for societies operating in the mortgages space. Not least because of the recently launched open property data programme, which is set to transform the entire property transaction process for lenders and everyone else involved.

The Open Property Data Association (OPDA) is digitising trusted property data so it is accessible to everyone relevant to a property transaction. This includes lenders, of course, and their clients, as well as financial advisers, estate agents and conveyancers.

Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) is one of the latest financial institutions to announce its membership of the OPDA. LBG expects that the digitisation of property data will potentially slash contract exchange times from an average of 22 weeks to less than a month.

Technology moves at such a pace, that it will always be important for competitive building societies to have innovative technology partners who can make sure their business is nimble and competitive, meeting and exceeding member expectations.