Some people feel strongly about being known by name rather than just a number. That sentiment underpins the attraction of choosing to use customer-owned over traditional banking services. The fact that profits go to improving products and services, rather than shareholder dividends, is also a strong incentive to choose a financial institution that is owned by its customers.

This is in no way a compromise. Collectively, mutual banks, credit unions and building societies are the fifth largest holder of household deposits in Australia – according to the Customer Owned Banking Association, as at March 2015, this figure stood at 10.2%. And when it comes to financial institutions, sometimes bigger is not better. Customer-owned financial institutions offer very competitive products. Not just occasionally either.

I appreciate that a slice of the population also places great importance on banking with a community-focused “local”. With internet banking now dissolving boundaries, the “local” customer-owned bank, credit union or building society is as free as the Big Four banks to accept customers nationwide into the fold. And that?s got to be of benefit for both parties.

In this report, we look at what 11 mutual banks, 38 credit unions and 7 building societies offer and how they rate against each other for products and services. Our aim was to uncover the best value for consumers by comparing products offered.


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