Adrian Coles, the director-general of the Building Societies Association, is to step down from his role later this year.
Coles has worked for the BSA since 1979 and will remain in his current post until a successor is appointed later this year.
Coles has held the director-general position for 20 years and said it was time for a new face to lead the BSA through the new regulatory regime.
"I have enjoyed, and continue to enjoy, being the BSA's director-general, a position I hold with considerable pride. However, now is the right time for me to seek to develop my career in other ways.
"I have held this post for 20 years, and it is time for a change, both from my point of view and that of the Association. A new regulatory regime will be in place shortly and it is right that a new leader takes the BSA into this new age.
Also, the mutual sector is recovering strongly after a difficult period in the financial and mortgage markets, giving my successor a very strong base from which to work."
David Webster, chief executive at Hanley Economic Building Society and chairman of the BSA, added: "Adrian has been an outstanding ambassador for the mutual sector since joining the BSA as an Economist in 1979, and he has played a pivotal role in guiding our industry through good times and tough times.
"He is hugely respected, not only in the UK, but amongst financial services businesses overseas for his perceptive grasp of economic, political and regulatory issues and his ability to distil such complex topics into meaningful and impactful priorities.
"Adrian has shaped the BSA into a robust, professional and respected organisation. He will be a tough act to follow and we wish him every success in his future career."
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From 1 March