MENU

Latest Press Releases And Comments

Here we cover all the very latest news. If you have a specific enquiry or something you’d like to find out about, please get in touch. Contact Martin Shaw at AFM via email martin@financialmutuals.org or call 0788 754 7195.

18 April 2012

Financial companies ‘Owned By You’, are trusted by you

New research shows people trust mutuals, but not plcs

People are far more likely to trust a financial mutual than any other type of financial services provider, including shareholder-owned high street banks according to new consumer research revealed by The Association of Financial Mutuals (AFM) today.  

When asked to rank financial mutuals and financial plcs on a trust scale of 1-10, financial mutuals received a ‘Net Trust Score’ of +32%, compared to financial plcs, which registered -5%, clearly demonstrating that whilst a vast majority of people trust mutuals with their money, the same cannot be said for shareholder-owned companies, who people lost confidence in during the financial crisis.

AFM 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. 

Talking ahead of the launch of Owned By You, Labour MP and Chair of the Business Select Committee, Adrian Bailey MP said:

“One of my criticisms of the [mutual] movement in the past, is that it has not shouted its difference from the rooftops even though it’s got a very good story to tell…The public do, increasingly, appreciate the difference between mutuals and the proprietary sector.”

He added, “This website will go some way to promoting the idea, getting greater understanding of it, and hopefully strengthening the sector.”

Jonathan Evans, Conservative MP and Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Building Societies and Financial Mutuals stated:“I think it is very important that there should be diversity in financial services… Those companies that are actually owned by their policyholders or their depositors, have shown for more than a hundred years that it is a very successful model.  That’s why I think the development and the retention of mutuals is so very important.”

Martin Shaw, Chief Executive of the Association of Financial Mutuals, commented:

“The financial crisis meant that many people lost confidence is large parts of the financial services industry, and that 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.”

ENDS

Notes on Net Trust Score

 

Research conducted by Opinium Research on 28/ 29 January 2012, with a nationally representative sample of 2,010.

Respondees were asked to rate financial mutuals and financial plcs on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 meant strongly distrust, and 10 meant strongly trust.

The average score for mutuals was 6.0, for plcs 4.6.  The breakdown of scores was:

%                                 Mutual                          plc

Distrust                         10                                 28

Neutral                          36                                 38

Trust                             42                                 23

Unsure                          12                                 11

The net trust score is derived from deducting the proportion that distrust away from those that trust.

Notes on Owned By You, www.OwnedByYou.org

Owned By You is an information website for the members of mutual organisations.  It has been produced by the Association of Financial Mutuals, the trade body that represents financial mutuals in the UK.  It uses content generated by members as well as independently, to provide a rich source of information about the sector in a format that is accessible to consumers.

AFM retains its b2b website, www.financialmutuals.org, and continues to invest in children’s education through www.funtosave.org(for 4 to 7 year olds) and www.savingsquad.org(for 7 to 11 year olds). 

Follow us on twitter: @ownedbyyou

For further information please contact:

 

Rimmi Shah/ Simon Alderson               

Lansons Communications

AFM@lansons.com

020 7294 3670 / 020 7294 3680

 

Martin Shaw is available for comment if required. 

22 February 2012

Losses from Lloyds and RBS demonstrate acute need to overhaul the bonus system, says Association of Financial Mutuals CEO, Martin Shaw

  • New research shows strong public support for stopping bonuses in loss-making organisations and publishing top executive pay
  • Stability of a financial organisation is the joint second most important factor for consumers when choosing where to save or invest

As Lloyds and RBS prepare to report combined losses of £4 billion this week, despite showing a willingness to pay six and seven figure bonuses, new research from the Association of Financial Mutuals reveals strong public support for curbing excessive and irresponsible remuneration and bonus payments.

Martin Shaw said, “It will come as a shock to many that organisations who fail to make a profit can justify paying their top executives vast bonuses. The Government must commit to looking very carefully and comprehensively at the bonus culture – not just within our private sector organisations – but in the public sector too, to ensure that they are used proportionately and as intended: a reward for exceptional performance.”

New research commissioned by the Association of Financial Mutuals shows strong public support for greater transparency of top executive remuneration in financial organisations, and a clear link between company performance and bonuses. 

Over half (51 per cent) of respondents supported either a complete ban on bonus payments unless the organisation was making a profit, or that details of top executives’ pay and bonuses must be made publicly available. Nearly one fifth (18 per cent) supported both of these measures being implemented.

Stability was also revealed as the joint second most important factor, on a par with access to a local branch, that consumers consider when choosing where to save and invest their money.

Shaw added, “This ongoing furore over bonuses in part publicly-owned or funded organisations – especially loss-making ones – shows that taxpayers demand a say in top people’s pay. This is exactly the kind of shareholder activism that will make companies more accountable to their owners.

“There is also a growing realisation from consumers and politicians that the capitalist business model has lost its moral compass and is in need of urgent repair, and that the Government should actively support the growth of other forms of business model – such as companies owned by their staff or customers.”

“There are two positives to take from recent events though”, Shaw noted. “Firstly, Lloyds claiming back some past bonus payments – if adopted more widely – could mark a step-change in remuneration policy for top executives, holding them to closer personal account for the business decisions they take, even in retrospect. This is a must going forwards.”

“Secondly, in opposition the Conservative Party committed to disclosing the number of employees in banks on high salaries. The Chancellor has failed to act on this in Government, but this research shows he has a clear mandate from the electorate to do so.” 

03 February 2012

Greater transparency and responsibility over executive remuneration demanded by the public, according to new research by AFM

New research commissioned by the Association of Financial Mutuals shows strong public support for greater transparency over top executive remuneration in financial organisations and a clear link between company performance and bonuses.

Over half (51 per cent) of respondents supported either a complete ban on bonus payments unless the organisation was making a profit, or that details of top executives’ pay and bonuses must be made publicly available. Nearly one fifth (18 per cent) supported both of these measures being implemented by financial organisations. 

To see full story, follow this link

16 January 2012

Commenting on  the Deputy Prime Minister’s Mansion House Speech this morning, Martin Shaw, Chief Executive of the Association of Financial Mutuals stated:

“I welcome much of the Deputy Prime Minister’s speech on responsible capitalism and would strongly emphasise the key role mutuality can play in achieving this.

“Stability, responsibility and accountability are the missing attributes that have led to the advent of what he and others have identified as “crony capitalism”. I would hasten to point out that they are also the principles by which members at the Association of Financial Mutuals operate. They are traits championed by the mutual business model across many sectors.

“While the Coalition Agreement commits to the promotion of the mutual business model, we have seen the focus of attention so far on the John Lewis-isation of public services. Mr Clegg has spoken of the need for shareholders to behave more like business owners – mutuality provides a very simple solution to this: mutuals are owned by you, the customer. I wholeheartedly support his views on the benefits of employee ownership but let us not overlook the integral benefits to consumers, the economy and society of a thriving customer-owned mutual sector.” 

16 December 2011

 

Commenting on the announcement that the Co-Op has been given preferred bidder status by Lloyds for the sale of their 632 branches, Martin Shaw, Chief Executive of the Association of Financial Mutuals, stated:

“I am delighted to hear that the Co-Op is the front runner to purchase the branches that Lloyds have been obliged to sell by the European Commission. The mutual business model has never been more relevant for financial services; after the disappointment over the failure to pursue the re-mutualisation of Northern Rock, this is a shot in the arm for the sector.

“The Government made a commitment to foster diversity in financial services through the promotion of mutuality and there has been little evidence of their commitment to this to date. However, this announcement by Lloyds puts the mutual business model in the spotlight as one that is stable, responsible and a perfectly viable alternative to shareholder organisations that don’t always have the interests of their customers at heart.”

13 December 2011

Association of Financial Mutuals welcomes a number of new members

We are pleased to announce that CUNA Mutual and the Veterinary Defence Society have become Full Members of AFM.

In addition, we are pleased to be joined by new Associate members: Frontier Investment Management, J.P. Morgan, Littlejohn LLP and Norton Rose.

This brings total membership of AFM to 56 full members and 32 Associate members.

29 November 2011

Martin Shaw, Chief Executive of the Association of Financial Mutuals, comments on the 2011 Autumn Statement:

"The Autumn statement sounded in many ways like an emergency budget- with a series of actions introduced to address an economic position that has clearly deteriorated markedly over the last few months.

 

"We welcome some of the strong language about fostering UK industry, and members of AFM are keen to explore with the Treasury how insurer funds might be made available to help support infrastructure projects and help for smaller firms. It is important that mutual insurers are represented in the Insurers’ Infrastructure Investment Forum that the Government is creating with the Association of British Insurers. This after all is the basis by which mutuals were first created in the eighteenth and nineteenth century.  It also reinforces ideas we’ve presented to the Chancellor over the last few years.

 

"Many AFM members are themselves small businesses, so some of the rate and tax reliefs announced will be positive for companies, as well as for their self-employed customers.  However, for a government with a stated commitment to “foster diversity and strengthen mutuals, there remains nothing in the government’s planning to remove some of the barriers to the future success of the mutual insurance sector.  And more broadly, with the statement providing a raft of new spending initiatives, the devil may yet be in the detail, as some of the fiscal balances needed are still to emerge."

17 November 2011

Commenting on the Government’s announcement today that Northern Rock has been sold to Virgin Money, Martin Shaw, Chief Executive of the Association of Financial Mutuals stated:

 

“The Chancellor’s announcement today that Northern Rock will be returned to the private sector reflects the advice given to him by UKFI.  In their view, the government’s priority was to get the best cash terms on offer now.  It remains to be seen in the long-run whether this is the best deal for the customers of Northern Rock and indeed the economy, particularly of the North East – the 2008 banking crisis provided clear evidence that financial stability and competition for banking services may not be served by yet another me-too bank. 

 

 It is disappointing that UKFI does not appear to have fully explored the option of remutualisation of Northern Rock – we believe that long term that was a better deal.  We call on UKFI to issue a full report on the appraisal of options including the pros and cons of returning Northern Rock to the mutual sector.” 

10 November 2011

Commenting on the FSA’s consultation paper on implementation of the Solvency II Directive, Martin Shaw, Chief Executive of the Association of Financial Mutuals stated:

 

“We welcome the publication today of the FSA’s consultation on transposition of Solvency II into the FSA rulebook. Whilst full implementation of the directive is being delayed it is vital for the industry to have clarity now on what the rules will look like in the future.

 

“Solvency II provides a comprehensive approach to capital management across Europe, and its role in promoting financial stability and consumer protection is a vital part of retaining confidence in the European insurance sector.

 

“The FSA’s estimation of £1.9 billion in implementation costs for the UK insurance industry demonstrates the financial onus on the sector in order to be compliant when the directive is transposed into UK law. Not only do insurers of differing sizes have to contend with these up front costs, but the ongoing compliance bill will be in the region of £200 million per year. In mutual insurers, of course, those costs are borne directly by consumers and £1.9 billion equates to at least £10 for every policy.

 

“This makes for concerning reading, particularly given the broad range of other regulatory projects insurers have to cope with at present.  Small mutuals in particular will bear a disproportionately higher cost as many of the costs are not scalable, and they have a smaller customer base to share the costs over.

 

“FSA’s analysis also indicates that whilst capital holdings in aggregate are sufficient, around 20% of UK insurers face a shortfall of £12.5 billion.  We expect that the true amount of the shortfall will be much lower by the time Solvency II goes live, as insurers act to retain profits and change their business structure to reduce the amount of capital required.  We might also see an increase in strategic action, including disposals of back books and further consolidation.” 

05 November 2011

Comment on Government and FSA responses to the Treasury Select Committee’s report on the RDR 

Commenting on the Government and FSA responses to the Treasury Select Committee’s report on the RDR, Martin Shaw, Chief Executive of the Association of Financial Mutuals, stated:

 

“It's good to see that the Government has acknowledged the confusion over how much VAT will be payable as a result of the RDR’s implementation; we hope to see further clarification on this soon and we welcome HMRC’s intention to meet with the industry.

 

“Considering the overarching objective of the RDR is to increase both the quality of advice delivered and the transparency around paying for it, it is crucial for the industry to understand what the regulator envisages a 'low cost simplified advice' regime will look like for consumers and that they consult properly with the industry in order to achieve the best possible outcome for consumers.

 

“It is right that the Government has not agreed to the twelve month delay the TSC report recommended. At a time of regulatory change, the industry needs as much certainty as possible and preparations for the RDR’s implementation are well underway. The FSA needs to move ahead quickly now to ensure the regulation is in good shape upon implementation.”