In the Westcountry, financial mutuals received a ‘Net Trust Score’ of +29% compared to financial plcs which registered -11%, when ranked on a trust scale of 1-10, according to statistics released by The Association of Financial Mutuals (AFM) today.
The news is being welcomed by South West-based rural insurance firm Cornish Mutual, which has around 24,000 Members in communities across the region (Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset).
Commenting on the findings, Alan Goddard, Managing Director of Cornish Mutual, said: “This certainly adds weight to the view that more people in the South West trust mutuals with their money than shareholder-owned companies, who many people lost confidence in during the financial crisis.
“While other insurance companies take a different approach, Cornish Mutual is very proud to retain its mutual status which it has held for over 100 years. It means the company is owned by its Members and solely exists to provide them with an excellent local service and fair claims process, not to pay quick returns or dividends to shareholders.”
He added: “We pride ourselves on building long-term relationships with Members by reinvesting our profits so we can offer our Members more competitive premiums and a local personal service. Mutuality is one of Cornish Mutual’s major attributes and something that very few insurers can boast as a credential.”
The Association of Financial Mutuals is today launching a new consumer website called ‘Owned By You’ (www.ownedbyyou.org) encouraging people to take a more active role in organisations that they own and to provide clearer information about financial mutuals, explaining the fundamental differences with shareholder-owned organisations and the benefits to their customers that result.
The site is aimed at both the 20 million members who own a stake in mutuals in the UK, but also at consumers who have not necessarily understood that mutuals mean the organisation is owned by, and run for, the benefit of its customers.
Martin Shaw, Chief Executive of the Association of Financial Mutuals (AFM), commented: “The financial crisis meant many people lost confidence in large parts of the financial services industry and this is proving very slow to return. The Prime Minister said recently that we need a better model for business, to get people more engaged - our research shows that we have a solution, in the mutual organisations which people so clearly trust.
“At a time where the public’s perceptions of financial services remain woefully low, we hope that the new website, ‘Owned By You’, will help people gain more of the knowledge and tools they need to become more engaged in the way organisations they own are run. We expect that society as a whole is better when the mutual sector is stronger.”
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