Definition of a Building Society
A building society is a financial institution, owned by its members, that offers banking and other financial services. The term first arose in the UK in the 19th century, when co-operative savings groups formed. By pooling savings, members were able to buy or build their own homes.
Today, building societies in the UK actively compete with banks for most banking services, especially mortgage lending and deposit accounts. However, the number of societies in the UK has declined by a tenth during 2008 (down to 59) due to a series of mergers brought about, to a large extent, by the consequences of the financial crisis. Every building society in the UK is a member of the Building Societies Association.