Speaking at the BSA annual conference in Manchester last week, Beale, who is chief executive of Nationwide, said mergers should not be seen as a sign of the sector contracting but rather as a sign of resilience.
Nationwide merged with Portman Building Society before the credit crunch in 2006, while Derbyshire and Cheshire joined forces with Nationwide in 2008.
Beale said: “Some commentators write about a contraction of the sector whenever there is a merger, giving reference to a dwindling number of societies. I do not see it this way. The merger process has strengthened, not weakened, the sector.”
Beale said that with the exception of Dunfermline Building Society, the sector had “looked after itself”. He added: “Stronger building societies have absorbed those that made mistakes in the run-up to, and during, the recession and other mutuals have voluntarily joined forces to strengthen their proposition and increase fair competition in the retail market.”