Nationwide – Britain’s biggest building society

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With a history that began in 1846 and comprises of around 100 different mergers, Nationwide Building Society don’t have the easiest past to track. However, regardless of their origins, they have fought their way to become a dominant force in the UK banking sector – notably being one of three main providers of household savings and mortgages in the country.

Unlike competitors Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and TSB, Nationwide isn’t simply a bank. Nationwide is building society, owned by its members and aimed at providing loans for customers rather than targeting profits for shareholders.

Although there are currently 45 different building societies in the UK, Nationwide is easily the biggest, owning £194 billion in assets – more than twice the amount of all its building society competitors combined.

Nationwide Building Society in Stockport

Currently chaired by Geoffrey Howe, Nationwide’s offices are now based in Swindon, Wiltshire. Having seen out the credit crunch and wider financial crisis, it appears that they are one of the few in the sector to have come out of the past few years in better shape than when they went in, reporting a 155% rise in profit to £332 million in 2013.

Although the industry is slowly moving towards being largely online, Nationwide still has around 700 branches across the UK, where they provide loans, credit cards and insurance, along with a variety of other products.