‘We’re different’ says building society boss

A “ONE size fits all” approach to regulatory reform of the financial services market is adding to building society costs and not benefiting members, a building society chief has warned.

Paul Winter, chief executive of Ipswich Building Society, said financial regulators were not appreciating the differences between mutuals and banks.

He was speaking in support of Building Societies Association chairman David Webster, who last week criticised the “irrational pessimism” of regulators at the association’s annual lunch in London.

Guest speaker at the event was Alison Cottrell, director of financial services in the Government’s Treasury department, who said the Government was committed to making changes which would make financial regulations more relevant to consumers.

But Mr Winter said: “The new regulations come at a cost and threaten our freedom to innovate. The regulators need to acknowledge the differences between building societies and banks and respect the fact that we have always been accountable to our members.”

A vast programme of regulatory change in the financial services market, which will affect building societies as well as banks, is under way as the new coalition Government goes about setting new rules for the sector.

This includes a mortgage market review, the European Union’s Responsible Lending policy, liquidity arrangements claimed by their critics to be more onerous and expensive and increased and more tightly defined capital requirements.

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