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Mutuality, de-mutualization and communities: the implications of branch network rationalization in the British building society industry

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The paper examines the withdrawal of branches from local communities by financial institutions. It assesses whether mutually owned building societies are more adept than the former societies that have converted to public limited companies (plcs), or the high street banks, in serving disadvantaged communities. The paper shows that during the mid-1990s: mutual building societies were more likely than former societies that have converted to plcs to maintain their branch network; mutual societies were less likely than banks to withdraw from socially deprived locations and more likely to open branches in such places; differences between mutual societies and convertors are less marked, but mutual institutions appear less likely than convertors to close branches in deprived communities. Among the remaining mutual building societies there are differences of perspective, with more commercially-minded societies less positive than socially-concerned mutuals about the need to maintain or even expand branches in disadvantaged areas.

Keywords: branch networks; building societies; communities; de-mutualisation; mutuality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Claremont Bridge, Claremont Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU

Publication date: September 1, 2000

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