Building society, nationwide

Nationwide Chief Executive, Joe Garner, discusses why the society is taking inspiration from its roots to determine and plan its future.

Since joining Nationwide Building Society as Chief Executive in early 2016, I’ve been up and down the country meeting colleagues and our members face to face. I have seen first-hand the care and compassion for our people and members alike. This has been a tremendous experience, one that has helped me understand Nationwide’s values and heritage, and one that has informed our strategy.

Last year, we refreshed our statement of purpose, namely ‘building society, nationwide’. It pulls together our past, our present, and our future. It is our collective mission behind which we are all uniting. It is a re-invigoration of our history, our difference, and a very distinctive statement of what we do, and why. Importantly, it is true. And I hope it’s a positive development for the mutual movement and Nationwide is once again very visibly waving the building society flag.

We, along with our fellow BSA members, were formed out of a social need. For more than one hundred years Nationwide has been driven by the principles of mutuality, care and security. At their best, building societies make a difference to our members’ and colleagues’ lives, driven by a desire to do the right thing, in the right way, and to help improve the living conditions of what our founders called the “industrious classes”.

So, we have an extraordinary past and we want an extraordinary future. To achieve our aims, we must be able to adapt to members’ changing needs. Whilst retaining the essence of our heritage and our humanity.

Building a thriving membership and making membership meaningful to people is, for us, a key part of our future. We’ll achieve this by building on our mutual difference and delivering legendary service.

Consumer expectations are growing every day, driven by the internet which has redefined what customer service feels like. I believe we need to deliver a seamless experience so that we serve members on their terms, not ours. Nationwide’s ambition is for our members to experience our service as heartfelt, easy, lifelong and personal. Our goal is digital convenience with a human touch, a service enabled by technology, and made meaningful by people.

How many of our customers understand that they are our members? How many appreciate the say they have in our organisation? And how many connect this with the difference in service and value we aim to deliver every day? I believe that we all can tell our story even better, and, importantly ensure that the reality lives up to that promise.

Like our BSA peers, Nationwide has a rich history of bringing together ordinary people to achieve things that they couldn’t achieve alone. Our purpose remains as relevant today as it was when we were founded in 1884 by Charles Cooper as the Southern Co-operative - we are ‘building society, nationwide’.