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So, what is the Definition of a Mutual Society? Mutual societies can be defined as being owned and democratically controlled by their members, put simply their objective is to benefit their members or the wider community. There are more than 10,000 mutual societies across the UK. A mutual society could be anyone of the following:

  • building societies
  • registered societies (including co-operative and community benefit societies, formerly known as Ëœindustrial and provident societies)
  • friendly societies
  • credit unions

Due to their nature and structure, those organisations defined as mutual societies are regulated directly by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and as such do not need to register or file with Companies House. However, once they have been defined as a mutual society they will need to register directly with the FCA who will keep a copy of their public records. Registered Mutual will also need to file their annual returns with the FCA. The FCA and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) are also jointly responsible for regulating mutual societies which carrying out regulated activities. These include:

  • all building societies and credit unions who are authorised to accept deposits
  • some friendly societies are authorised to offer insurance

Regulated mutual societies will also have access to the:

Borrowers from societies with consumer credit activities registered with the FCA also have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service on issues relating to their loans. Members and customers of societies not regulated by the FCA and PRA don’t have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or the FSCS. The Mutual Public Register is a record of mutual societies classified under the above definition, all those registered will be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The FCA has information on societies currently registered, and those no longer registered.