A Mutual and Co-operative Prospectus

30 November 2023

Together with our partners ABCUL, BSA and Co-operatives UK we have published our joint prospectus ahead of the next General Election, outlining how co-operatives and mutuals can help the next government tackle the biggest challenges: economic stagnation, inequality and insecurity, and the climate emergency.

Co-operatives and mutuals are an increasingly significant contributors to the UK economy, with the latest research finding combined annual revenues equating to 3.5% of UK GDP. They are already delivering numerous benefits, including:

  • An inclusive, growing economy that benefits everyone, such as The Co-op Retail Group and its £70 million price reduction on daily essentials
  • Serving the underserved, like Foresters Financial’s Free Financial Planning service, with in-house advisers who provide personal financial planning at no extra cost, ensuring that everyone has access to expert guidance for making informed financial decisions.
  • Thriving communities everywhere, like Cornish Mutual, a farming insurance specialist, equipping farmers to be more resilient, or Scotwest supporting North Lanarkshire Council employees to save
  • Societal action on climate change and reaching net zero, such as Principality Building Society helping more people into sustainable homes
  • Supporting public services, as mutual insurers generate nearly £1billion savings each year to the NHS, wider welfare state and employers’ costs through healthcare plans and income protection

Working together we are reaching out to all parties, setting out what these businesses have to offer society and urging that the next government create the conditions for further mutual growth by:

  • designing an environment that supports growth
  • delivering a legislative and regulatory framework that is fair
  • creating capital to support new and growing co-operatives and mutuals

You can read the joint prospectus here: The Purpose of Mutual and Co-operative Business in Society

Latest UK market insights report published by ICMIF

10 October 2023

The international mutuals trade body has published its latest report on the UK mutual insurance market. This reports that UK mutual insurers wrote £ 23.5 billion in premium volume and served a record 25.5 million member-policyholders in 2022.

This means the sector held 8% of the UK market in 2022 (down from 8.7% in 2021).  Assets held increased to £187 billion.  To read the full report, click on this link:


Mutuality: supporting health and wellbeing in the UK

28 September 2023

A report launched today by AFM Associate member OAC looks at the contribution made by mutuals to supporting health and wellbeing in the UK.

Their analysis concludes that mutuals generate almost £1 billion a saving a year (£956 million in 2022), and that these benefits are shared by the NHS, the Welfare State and employers.  AFM has referenced this sizeable contribution in its reports to HM Treasury’s consultation on Occupational Health incentives, to argue for changes to the tax treatment of Health Cash Plans: https://financialmutuals.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/AFM-response-to-HMT-consultation-on-Occupational-Health.pdf.

As the introduction to the OAC research states:

“Our report looks at the valuable contribution to public health finances given by the mutual and not-for-profit sector through the provision of health protection policies to employers and individuals. Most of these organisations are long-established with a strong heritage of protecting workers from the impact of ill-health, unemployment or old age.”

To read the report in full, follow this link:


Cooperative and Mutual Economy 2023

27 September 2023

Launched by Cooperatives UK, this is the first and only comprehensive report on the UK’s democratic economy, which represents all those businesses and organisations that give people, collectively, genuine control and ownership – co-operatives, mutuals, employee-owned businesses and friendly societies.  To view the report, click on this link: Coops and Mutual Economy 2023.

Some of the key findings are:

  • £87.9 billion income and 74 million memberships in the democratic economy: Demonstrating the value people place on genuine ownership and control
  • Resilience and longevity: Co-operatives are over twice as likely to survive the early years of trading when compared to other start-up businesses
  • Sector growth: Increase in all sectors of the democratic economy, including co-operatives (1.1%) and employee-owned businesses increased (37.7%).  The five largest democratically-owned businesses in the UK in 2022 were: Royal London (first, with turnover of £11.8 billion), the Coop, John Lewis, Forester Life (AFM member) and Nationwide Building Society.
  • Community impact: Co-operatives play a significant role in community development, with a remarkable 62.6% increase in the number of community-owned pubs over the past five years
  • Sustainability: Co-operatives are well-positioned to contribute to a just transition to green energy, with the number of co-operatives operating in the energy and environment sector increasing by 18.58% over the last five years
  • Policy advocacy: Cooperatives UK has launched a policy platform urging political parties to commit to co-operative expansion: www.uk.coop/coopgrowth

Coops and Mutual Economy 2023

Analysis of Solvency statements for 2022

July 2023

The majority of Solvency and Financial Condition Reports (“SFCRs”) for 2022 have now been published and, as in previous years, AFM Associate member OAC has helpfully produced a summary of various metrics using the publicly available data for AFM members and other firms of a similar nature and size.

27 insurers have been included, with total assets of £9.8bn, the majority being members of AFM, and a summary of key metrics is outlined below:

  • Asset values have fallen by just under 10% over the period reported. This reflects the stockmarket downturn and higher bond yields. The impact of this is to reduce insurers’ own funds but also to reduce their exposure to market risk.
  • Risk margins have reduced significantly this year owing to the large increase in risk free rates. This is ahead of the material reductions to the risk margin proposed under the Solvency UK reforms which are now expected to come into effect before the 2023 year end.
  • With the fall in own funds more than offset by a fall in technical provisions, solvency ratios have improved over 2022. They will improve significantly further assuming the proposed changes to the risk margin are implemented.
  • There is an expectation that the increased capital resources brought about by the proposed reforms will allow more investment in “productive assets” such as social infrastructure and green energy.

For the full report, click here.

Suppose an organisation could focus on maximising happiness for customers and employees

… rather than maximising share price and the dividend, what would that organisation look like and how could it make this a virtue?

This article was produced using AI tool Notion AI, and is one of a series we are developing (see: What does FCA’s Consumer Duty mean for NEDs?).  The article was generated by posing the initial question, and a number of follow-up questions, as shown in the text; otherwise, no changes have been made to the text, even to correct the- what I consider annoying- ubiquitous spelling of words with z’s rather than s.  If you have any comments, please contact the human collaborator, [email protected].

An organization that prioritizes the happiness of its customers and employees over profits would look vastly different from the traditional corporate model that prioritizes profit maximization. Such an organization would focus on creating a positive and supportive work environment that fosters employee satisfaction and well-being. This could involve offering competitive salaries and benefits, opportunities for career development and growth, and a culture that values employee input and feedback…

For the full article, follow this link: Suppose an organisation could focus on maximising happiness for customers and employees, 0323

Are leaders ready to control the use of Artificial Intelligence in their organisations?

December 2022

In the summer of 2022, AFM Board members joined over 700 other business leaders in contributing to a survey into how well businesses are adapting to AI. The resulting (first of its kind) report, compiled by Sue Turner, NED at Cornish Mutual, was published last week. You can read the full 2022 AI Governance Report here: https://financialmutuals.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/2022-AI-Governance-Report-c.pdf

Analysis of Solvency statements for 2021

The majority of Solvency and Financial Condition Reports (“SFCRs”) for 2021 have now been published.   As we know, the majority of readers of the SFCR for non-listed insurers tends to be other insurers and consultants.  Well, now you don’t need to, as AFM Associate member OAC has produced a summary of various metrics using the publicly available data for AFM members and other firms of a similar nature and size.

The data, using the reported SFCR only, covers 27 insurers where a published SFCR is available. Each insurer’s name is shown alongside the relevant data for that organisation, to aid comparison and contextualise the results.

Amongst the fascinating findings about the financial position of the sector, OAC estimates that the proposals from Treasury to amend the risk margin could release up to £150 million amongst the group.

To read more, follow SFCR Analysis_2021.

New report outlines plan to ‘future proof’ financial mutuals

18 November, 2021

A report published today by the Association of Financial Mutuals and Whitecap Consulting highlights the key areas of current and future focus for mutual insurers and friendly societies, and provides a set of strategic considerations for the CEOs and boards of these organisations.

Read more

Analysis of the strategic landscape for mutual insurers and friendly societies

July 2021

AFM is working in partnership with Whitecap Consulting and key industry partners to conduct an analysis of the strategic landscape for financial mutual organisations in the UK, which will culminate in a report later this year, with the findings to be presented at the AFM annual conference in October. Read more

AFM Guide to the GDPR

October 2020

In 2018 AFM formed a working group to produce a guide to implementing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).  The guide was well-received by members in preparing them for the step change in data protection regulation at the time. Two years on, the framework has continued to evolve, and the UK Government has added further legislation, both to support GDPR and in advance of the end of the Brexit transition period.  The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has also been active and supported industry in interpreting the standards.

Given the above, we have revised our Guide, to incorporate our understanding of expectations today, and to provide more insight into current good practice. The Guide can be downloaded here.

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