FEATURE4 April 2016

The feeling’s mutual

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Features Finance Impact UK

Many businesses claim to have customers at their heart, but the Yorkshire Building Society has changed the way it uses market research, from introducing online panels to an extensive testing programme, to ensure it understands all of its customers, as Bronwen Morgan finds out

YBS branch crop

The financial services sector has taken a battering since the global recession, with people’s trust in it hit badly. One consequence of this has been that the once unpopular building society model has found new advocates – but, in a highly competitive market, those few surviving mutuals still have to compete with the big boys.

So it’s not surprising that Adam Lerner, Yorkshire Building Society (YBS) Group’s senior research manager, says the business has gone through an intense period of change over the past six years. This includes the regulatory change undergone by the whole financial services industry – namely the comprehensive Mortgage Market Review implemented by the Financial Conduct Authority in April 2014 in an attempt to constrain high-risk lending and borrowing – and significant changes to the group’s structure through mergers and acquisitions. (See timeline).

Despite all these changes, says Lerner, one aspect has remained consistent: the group’s focus on its customers. “Because we’re a ...