Building Society Manager

The Job and What's Involved

Building society managers are responsible for the smooth running and profitability of building societies. They may manage several branches in a local area. They are responsible for ensuring that their branch/region meets financial targets, and they often lead and motivate a team. Managers need to have a detailed knowledge of their organisation's products - such as mortgages, savings, cheque book accounts, credit cards, loans and insurance - and those of rival banks and building societies.

In addition to running the branch or branches, managers also represent the building society in the local community.

Their tasks may include:

  • Meeting individual customers to assess their suitability for a mortgage or other financial product, such as insurance policies or investment trusts.
  • Supervising, training and motivating staff.
  • Leading team meetings, monitoring progress in relation to branch targets and advising staff of new products.
  • Meeting with local professionals, including estate agents and solicitors, in an effort to generate additional business.
  • Liasing with solicitors, surveyors and banks when arranging mortgages.
  • Compiling regular reports and statistics for senior colleagues.
  • Dealing with customer complaints.
  • Ensuring that staff adhere to the building society's standards and values.

Managers are often responsible for a team consisting of customer service advisers and mortgage or financial advisers. They usually report to a regional manager, based in the society's central offices, with overall responsibility for several branches.

Building society managers tend to work standard office hours, Monday to Friday. Most branches are open on Saturday mornings and managers may sometimes work as part of a rota. In addition, there may be occasions when they need to attend meetings in the evenings. Some managers work part time.

The work is usually based in modern, open plan offices within high street branches. Managers may be required to have a driving licence.

Managers are expected to dress smartly.

Salaries for trainee managers may start at around £19,000 a year. With experience, earnings can rise to around £33,000. Managers of large branches may earn over £50,000 a year.

Building societies often offer a range of additional benefits. These may include subsidised mortgages, competitive loans, healthcare insurance and profit-related bonuses.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Building societies employ approximately 50,000 people in around 2,000 branches in towns and cities throughout the UK. The number of building societies has decreased in recent years due to mergers and demutualisation (building societies converting to banks) and there are now 51. Building societies vary considerably in size, from one that has over 700 branches to those with just one office.

Entry to building society management is generally competitive.

Vacancies are advertised in local and national newspapers, on recruitment websites and on building societies' own websites. The Building Societies Association (BSA) website lists all UK building societies and provides links to the societies' careers websites.

Education and Training

There are two main routes into management:

Progression from a junior role is possible. For example, individuals working as customer advisers may be promoted to management roles. They are likely to need a wide breadth of experience before being considered for such a role. Entry as a customer adviser usually needs at least four GCSE's (A*-C), including English and maths, or equivalent qualifications. The Diploma in business, administration and finance may be relevant for this area of work. Some customer advisers enter this work through an Apprenticeship in providing financial services.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

Many building societies run management training programme's. Entry requirements vary but most entrants have a degree. Relevant degrees include economics, banking and accounting but any subject may be acceptable. The minimum entry requirements for a degree course are usually two A levels and five GCSE's (A*-C), or equivalent qualifications.

Some building societies accept non-graduates on their management programme's. They may ask for at least five GCSE's (A*-C) or two A levels (or equivalent), plus some relevant work experience. Whatever the qualifications required, previous experience in sales or financial services is helpful, particularly if it has included customer service and staff management.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Building society managers train on the job. Many societies provide in-house courses on skills such as customer service, time management and security.

Management trainees follow a structured programme, usually for two years. Trainees are given experience in different parts of the society, including head office.

Managers may work for a professional qualification. Relevant qualifications include the ifs School of Finance Professional Certificate in Banking. Although a qualification in its own right, it can also be the first stage of a degree programme, leading to a BSc (Hons) in banking practice and management.

All staff who advise customers on mortgages are required to have a qualification approved by the Financial Services Skills Council (FSSC). They include the ifs Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Practice, and the Certificate in Mortgage Advice offered by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII). Study for these qualifications is by distance learning.

Workers who advise on equity release products also require a relevant qualification, such as the CII's Certificate in Equity Release or the ifs Certificate in Regulated Equity Release. Study for these qualifications is also by distance learning.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A building society manager should:

  • Be able to lead and motivate others.
  • Have excellent communication skills, both verbal and written.
  • Be confident in handling numbers and computers.
  • Have sales skills.
  • Have a strong business sense.
  • Be capable of analysing information.
  • Have negotiating skills.
  • Be honest and trustworthy.
  • Work well in a team.
  • Be decisive.
  • Have an inquisitive mind.
  • Be flexible.

Your Long Term Prospects

Building society managers are often expected to move between branches in order to progress. They may move from smaller branches to larger city-based offices.

Managers may progress to regional management positions or to an operational role in head office, such as training, marketing or human resources.

Get Further Information

The Building Societies Association (BSA),
6th Floor, York House, 23 Kingsway, London WC2B 6UJ
Tel: 020 7520 5900
Website: www.bsa.org.uk

The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII),
42-48 High Road, South Woodford, London E18 2JP
Tel: 020 8989 8464
Website: www.cii.co.uk

Financial Services Skills Council,
51 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HQ
Tel: 0845 257 3772
Website: www.fssc.org.uk

ifs School of Finance, ifs House,
4-9 Burgate Lane, Canterbury, Kent CT1 2XJ
Tel: 01227 762600
Website: www.ifslearning.ac.uk

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