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Great oaks from little saplings grow

Volunteers from Bath Building Society have just completed the planting of 250 trees in the Fox Hill area of Bath in partnership with More Trees BANES, an organisation that has been established to encourage tree planting in the local area. The tree planting was funded by the Society as part of our plan to plant 1,200 trees by 2024 to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the Society’s founding. 

Despite the fact that the full benefits of this project will take decades to come to fruition, our sincere hope is that our little contribution will steadily grow to help the environment and to improve the future amenity of Bath for its citizens.

Warren Buffet, the influential American investor, once said that ‘Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago’.  Buffet was speaking about the benefits of investing for the long term. For any venture worth pursuing, he argued that instead of looking for easy gains or quick fixes, that we should all be prepared to put in the time that it takes to be successful.  This truth applies to saving but why should anyone bother to save when interest rates are so much lower than the rate of inflation?  The answer is that even a little bit of cash saved up helps people to cushion themselves from the sudden financial impacts from the likes of recession, redundancy or unexpected bills.  For a moment let’s think back to March 2020 when the first Covid lockdown occurred and many experienced a sudden negative impact on their personal incomes.  I am certain that those with some savings put aside managed to sleep more soundly through that period than those with no savings at all.

Building a little reserve of cash should be the first financial priority of every household but there is a real challenge at hand. Recent research by the Building Societies Association indicated that there are 11.5 million people in the UK with less than £100 of savings to fall back on in an emergency.  So how do we encourage more people to save?  Although the old adage of ‘better late than never’ applies to saving, like many things in life, there is no doubt that there are advantages from starting the savings habit when young.  Many instant savings accounts are traditionally opened for children by their close relatives and Bath Building Society offers its Junior Saver Account for this purpose.  To encourage young adults to save, the Society offers its award-winning Junior ISA.

As part of its investment into the social fabric of Bath, the Society sponsors financial education for young adults which includes sessions on the benefits of prioritising saving.  In 2022, the Society provided over 4,000 hours of training to 2,300 sixth formers in eleven Bath state schools and colleges.  Like all education, a better knowledge of financial matters will hopefully provide our young people with the means to improve their futures.

With the impact from high inflation impacting disproportionately on the poor and the lowest paid, the ability to save is particularly hard for adults who are just starting out on their academic and working life journeys.  We want to encourage saving amongst the 18-35 demographic group by promoting ‘small and regular’ deposits, and to this end, it offers two regular savings products with attractive interest rates.  The Society also wishes to promote ‘saving for a purpose’ as this encourages the prioritisation of saving before other forms of personal expenditure.  Our regular saver products are designed to encourage a progression towards the building of mortgage deposits and the security offered by future home ownership.  The Society has recently launched a Cash Lifetime ISA ((LISA) which also aims to encourage young adults to save towards buying their own homes or to aid future financial security when in retirement.  This product also comes with attractive government bonuses to promote uptake.

There are sadly no quick fixes to solving environmental problems or the issue of the ‘under saved’, but given time, our efforts may make some difference within our local area.  Our aim is to grow great oaks from little saplings and we are prepared to invest the required time, effort and money today and then have the patience to wait.

Kevin Gray, CEO.

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