Andrew Campbell and Elise Campbell
Catherine Campbell and Andrew Gibbs
Andrew Campbell and Judith M. Dahlgreen
This chapter charts the development of the mutually owned building society in the UK as a means of providing a small and simple range of financial services to consumers in the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The decline of the size of the sector in the late twentieth century is described, and this is identified as an unforeseen consequence of a small legal change in the Building Societies Act 1986 which permitted conversion of a mutual building society into a registered limited company with a share capital. The large number of consequent conversions and takeovers is noted. A legal change which was motivated by a desire to increase competition for consumers, in fact resulted in a reduction in competition and in the removal from the marketplace of financial services providers who had a simple and distinct product offering and ethos. Some restrictive features of building society legislation are identified and comments are made about the consequent financial stability of these necessarily conservative entities.