01 December 2015

Member TalkBacks

4 minute read


  • Learn about Member Talkback events and how you can attend
  • Mutuality is brought to life by talking to members and hearing their views first-hand
  • How interest rates work for savers and borrowers
  • The importance of voting in the Annual General Meeting

Hello, I’m Sam Grayston, the Senior Manager for Member Engagement at Nationwide. My team organises Member Engagement events all over the country as well as running the member website your.nationwide.co.uk.

I’ve just joined Nationwide, so it was a great opportunity to see my team in action. For any of you members who weren’t able to come along, or haven’t been to a TalkBack before, I thought I’d share the story of what it is and how it works.

This event was our 149th Member TalkBack event - but what is a Member TalkBack? Well, TalkBacks are exclusive, member-only events which take place throughout the year, all over the country. Normally hosted by one of the Executive or Board, they are a fantastic opportunity to hear first-hand from our members. And whilst this might sound like quite a normal thing for Nationwide Building Society to be doing, actually it is an extraordinary expression of what it is to be a mutual.

Our job in Member Engagement is to try to bring mutuality to life for our members, and TalkBacks are one way of doing that. For us, providing this rewarding experience for members, getting together with like-minded people from the same community and having your voice heard is a unique offer for our members. Believe it or not, some of the suggestions that come from members at these events actually get taken up by senior executives and put into action! Which other financial services provider could claim that? I suppose what I’m saying is, I’m really proud we do this kind of thing for you, our members.

“October's Member TalkBack event was something of a homecoming for me, as it took place in my home city of Norwich.”

The Norwich event took place at the Assembly House on Theatre Street. It was a really lovely venue, steeped in history. The rooms were very grand and the staff were great. I’d recommend popping in for lunch if you’re around! We were supported at this event by around ten colleagues from branches around Norfolk as well as the Divisional Director for the branch network and specialist colleagues from Security and Risk. They were a lively and friendly bunch who were really keen to talk to the members and share their enthusiasm for their branches, products, services and the Society more broadly.

The host for the evening was Mark Rennison. He is Nationwide’s Group Finance Director and is accountable for the financial performance of the Society. His presentation to the members was informative and engaging, showing the strength of position that Nationwide is in at the moment, as well as the developments with new innovations and technologies such as Apple Pay and Nationwide NOW, and the commitment to remain a strong, stable mutual organisation. The 100-strong audience was interested and had a great opportunity to ask some pretty robust questions too.

One of the questions, which often comes up at these events, was about interest rates. Mark’s answer to this was fascinating, and not a way I’d considered this problem before. He described it in relation to our founding principles of being fair in the way that we support both savers and lenders. As a mutual with nearly 170 years of history, Nationwide has always wanted to treat its members fairly. The original idea was to allow members to save their money together and allow other members to borrow money to build homes (hence ‘building’ society!). This has been the premise of our business model since then. In other plc banks, they can offer loss-making, but very attractive interest rates to savers by exploiting other product holders where they can make lots of money. That isn’t the Nationwide way. We’d rather make sure that savers and borrows have fair rates that are sustainable, rather than overly support one group and exploit another group as some plc banks do.

One of the members made a great comment about the importance of voting in the Annual General Meeting. He was passionate about the mutual model and encouraged every single member who was in attendance to make their voice count by voting in the AGM. He was absolutely right! Members equally own Nationwide and their view is really important. If you have a view on how we run Nationwide, please take part in the AGM. Your next chance to vote in the AGM will be June and July 2016.

The final act of the night was to ask the members to vote for a local charity to support. Nationwide contributes a £2000 jackpot for local charities and then splits the money according to the number of votes cast for each charity. It’s a way of making every vote count and members’ voices heard. The four charities supported on the night were: Norwich Door to Door (9% vote share = £180); Nelson's Journey (17% vote share £340); Norfolk Accident Rescue Service (33% vote share £660) and East Anglia Children's Hospice £820).

Overall, it was a great night, and a fantastic way of showing that we’re a different type of business that rewards our members, takes part in their communities and listens to their voice.

If you’d like to come along to the next Member TalkBack register here to come along. We’d love to have your company.

About the author

Sam Grayston

Nationwide hold TalkBack events around the country. Sam Grayston, Senior Manager of the Member Engagement Team, shares his thoughts on the events.

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