Friday, 1 July 2011


We have just held our annual Board "away-day" to review our strategy and agree priorities for the coming financial year which starts on 1st September. You could be forgiven for thinking that a strategy for a small building society right now can be summed up in one word....Survival...However, we like to think we can do a bit better than just survive, and in any case the survival instincts of small, local mutuals over the past few years since the "credit crunch" and through the recession have been commendable. If this era in financial services has taught us nothing else it must surely be that big aint necessarily beautiful. The author Peter Drucker once commented that " strategy is not about forecasting the future,it is about understanding the future implications of todays decisions". None of us can claim to be experts in predicting what the future holds but we can strive to make decisions for this business which put us in a strong place as the future unfolds. To do that we need to identify our strengths and play to those, evaluate the likely risks we face and create a range of products our members will want. We also aim to be distinctive in the way we deliver service. No amount of TV advertising by large banks proclaiming their commitment to outstanding customer service can guarantee the much-desired reputational enhancement for those banks, but it is curious to watch our large plc competitors try to mimic the way we do business. Our strategy day was challenging, thought-provoking, interactive, productive and enjoyable. Easy for me to say that I know, but the acid test would be, what would a Hanley member think of our day-long discussions had he/she been an observer?My firm belief is they'd have been reassured and impressed by the conviction and the vision shown by the Hanley Board.

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