CUSTOMERS of mutual businesses believe they are more trustworthy than plcs, says research from the Mutuo think-tank.
Trust Rewards surveyed members of mutual societies to establish how they rated various aspects of performance. The results give an overwhelming endorsement of mutuality as a business form.
Customers agreed that the organisational structure of mutuals contributes to their performance:
? 75 per cent of building society members said they liked the fact that they have no shareholders
? 58 per cent said that they felt a sense of ownership
? 66 per cent agreed that building societies provide better feedback than banks
? 78 per cent believed that building societies offer a better deal than banks
? Building society members are four times more likely to trust a mutual than a plc
? 72 per cent of co-operative society members felt that a co-operative acts more in members' interests, with 95 per cent agreeing with the statement, "The Co-op is trustworthy".
These findings were supported in a parallel survey of the general public, which found that people were more likely to trust a building society than a bank and twice as likely to invest with one in the future. They build upon earlier research which found that building societies consistently delivered better value to customers and enjoyed higher levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Secretary of the Co-operative Group, Nick Eyre, said: "The clear lesson of this report is that people appreciate that mutuals, being owned by their customers, put their customers first. Plcs, on the other hand, are constrained by the overwhelming need to maintain shareholder value."
Mutuo's Director, Co-op Party National Secretary Peter Hunt, said: "There is plenty of evidence that mutuals perform better than other businesses because they don't have to pay dividends to shareholders.
"This report is significant because it provides the first clear evidence that the public really understands and appreciates the mutual advantage."
? Trust Rewards is available for £ 95.00 from 77 Weston Street, London SE1 3SD, tel: 020 7367 4152, e-mail: Emma Harrison .