We caught up with our new CEO Sue Hayes to see how she's settling in, hear about her career journey and get some insight into her top tips for budding female CEOs.
Tell us more about your career so far...
"I've worked for a number of large banks as well as a start-up bank and an established challenger. I hadn't worked in the mutual sector previously which is one of the reasons I wanted to join as I was drawn to its community ethos and commitment to giving back. My focus wherever I've worked or been CEO is on building brilliant teams and doing great things for customers. My plan is to build positive differentiation for The Nottingham, to ensure it's positioned to be a sustainably successful mutual for the future. I'd like The Notingham to lead the mutual market into the future."
What were you doing before Beehive Money?
"I was at a start-up bank that was focused on getting its banking license which is quite a big task. However, it was a strong, purpose-led organisation committed to getting Britain building, for both homes and office space to support the creation of jobs. Having a clear purpose is something that's important for me and one of the reasons I was attracted to this position for The Nottingham and Beehive Money."
How are you feeling about joining a 170+ year company with a new digital brand attached to it?
"The mutuality model feels like a very modern concept and the prospect of being able to share this with the next generation of homebuyers, savers and investors is a great opportunity. It's not only good for our members but it also benefits wider communities and already having an app to facilitate all this demonstrates the innovative side of the Society. Reaching a younger audience with a great app feels like the best way for us to transform the mutual sector."
What's your favourite thing about Beehive Money?
"Helping our members save for a brighter future is our main goal at Beehive and I love that - it's not just about money it's about what people are trying to achieve with their money. The things our members are saving for in the app are actually key life milestones - they're the things that really matter. Another great thing about Beehive is that we're one of the few providers that offer
the Lifetime ISA product - there's still not many high street banks that offer this great savings account that can add a 25% bonus to our hard working savers' accounts. The LISA is a great way for us to help people save for two of the most important things in life - buying your first home and retirement. "
How important do you think financial education is for today's first-time buyers?
It's enormously important as it's still hard for people to understand exactly what you need to do. With the cost of living rising along with house prices, it's tougher than ever to build a deposit that's enough to buy a home which is where the Lifetime ISA and our Milestones feature comes in so handy. The second thing is educating people about the ongoing costs after you've bought your house. The content we create for our members on these subjects is really useful for making sure they know what they're getting themselves into with the homebuying process."
What does a day in the life of a CEO look like?
"It's really interesting because it's so varied. One day I'm working with the Beehive team then the next day I'm visiting to our teams in building society branches and then I'm working with our mortgages team to understand how we're transforming our mortgage strategy. In particular, I really enjoy spending time with members and potential members and getting their feedback on what works and what doesn't."
Do you have any advice for budding female CEOs?
"Be your own person. Whilst it's good to reach out, build networks and take advice - at the end of the day you need to have the confidence and conviction to make the decisions. Use your networks, experts and the great minds you're surrounded by to enable you to make the best decisions you can."
What's your biggest challenge?
"I think the whole building society and financial services sector has a challenge in terms of it's relevance and how it rebuilds itself for the future. Our challenge is how we transform the opportunities by being relevant and having winning propositions."
And, what's been your biggest learning so far in your career?
"Keep things simple. Don't have too many priorities but instead concentrate on doing a small number of things well. Otherwise there are so many different ways to point yourself you won't end up achieving anything significant."
Biggest money mistake or money lesson you pass on?
"I've been in the same place as many young people when living independently, budgeting was an issue and there were worries about putting food on the table. But I've learnt a lot from those experiences on the importance of trying to save a little and plan ahead. Working in finance has also made me realise the important of pension planning. Things have changed massively in this space and the harsh reality is most people's workplace pensions will not be sufficient. Understanding what you can do
and working out the ways to save as much as you can as early as you can is the recipe for a comfortable retirement."
If you weren't a CEO in financial services what would you be?
"I love research - it really interests me to understand behaviours and hear different opinions on things so I'd probably be part of a research company. I really like insights and marketing and using them to build great propositions that interest customers and are relevant to their different lifestyles. Either that or running a bar on a beach somewhere!"
Find out more about the Lifetime ISA for either homebuying
or retirement savings
over on our product pages and stay tuned for more updates from Sue very soon.