AFM received record level of press coverage in 2021/22

In the last financial year, working with our PR agency Smoking Gun, AFM received 171 pieces of press coverage.

For more, view the infographic: AFM April – June 2022 Q2 summary and wrap up[98].

AFM launches search for its next CEO

In April 2023 Martin Shaw, CEO of AFM since its launch in 2010, intends to step down as CEO.  He will continue working in a part-time capacity, and we have launched a search for his replacement with the help of Hanover Search.

If you would like to find out more, contact clinton.poore@hanoversearch.com, or view the following video:

Modernising legislation for mutual insurers and friendly societies

16 June, 2022

In the wake of the (failed) demutualisation vote by LV= and with the help of the APPG for Mutuals, AFM has pressed for a range of legislative changes that would give mutual insurers and friendly societies the capacity to compete on equal terms with their non-mutual competitors, and to remove some of the past incentives for demutualisation.

On 15 June, the House of Commons had a First Reading of a Private Members Bill (The Co-operatives, Mutuals and Friendly Societies Bill) which seeks to deliver some important changes to the legislation affecting the mutual sector.

Sponsored by Sir Mark Hendrick MP, with the support of AFM and Cooperatives UK, the Bill will cover a range of provisions for the mutual sector (along with others for cooperatives):

  • to update the Friendly Societies Act 1992, for which our starting point is the extensive submission we made to Treasury last year (copy available on request);
  • to address the problem relating to the tax treatment of any mutual insurer or friendly society that wishes to issue Mutual Deferred Shares; and
  • to permit the capital surplus of mutuals and friendly societies to be non-distributable (ie to seek to change the articles/ constitution to remove the possibility of the inherited estate being distributed in the event of a demutualisation).

Martin Shaw, AFM’s CEO, comments:

“Mutuals and Cooperatives diligently serve many millions in the UK, including many of the most hard-pressed in our population.  Yet they do this most of the time with one hand tied behind their back, forced to operate within outmoded legislation.  This important Bill will help mutual insurers, friendly societies and cooperatives compete on a more even playing field.

We are very grateful to Sir Mark Hendrick for bringing forward this Bill, and expect that as a result mutuals will be able to operate more effectively, and even more people will be able to benefit from being part of a customer-owned organisation, which only focuses on their best interests.”

The Second Reading of the Bill is planned to be on Friday 28 October (this is the first point at which a detailed case for changes to the law is made and debated in parliament).

Registration opens for the AFM Conference and AGM 2022

Set in the glorious, honey-hued surroundings of the Cotswolds, this year’s Conference takes place on 10-11 October and will focus on ‘The Mutual Ecosystem’. We’ll be exploring opportunities members have to work together to achieve better outcomes, and how we all influence and are affected by the environment around us.

Once again the conference offers the chance to network with friends old and new; debate current and future issues for the sector; and contribute to AFM’s planning. For more, or to register as a delegate or exhibitor, follow THIS LINK to our dedicated conference website.

As more UK workers live with long-term illness, income protection from a mutual provider has never been more relevant

6 April, 2022

Members of the Association of Financial Mutuals (AFM) that offer income protection products paid out 94.1% of claims received in 2021, up from 93.9% the previous year.

In total, AFM providers paid out around £34 million in claims to 10,300 policyholders in 2021 (including nearly 8,200 new claimants).  Read on

LV’s move to go it alone is bold

11 February, 2022

Right after the members of LV= rejected the proposed sale of the business to the US private equity firm Bain, Royal London reaffirmed its interest in talking about a merger. That now seems to have fallen through, but before I look at the latest developments, a quick reminder of how we got here. Read on

Collaboration opportunities for Financial Mutuals

Whitecap Consulting, in partnership with the Association of Financial Mutuals (AFM), recently published a report analysing the strategic landscape for financial mutual organisations in the UK. The Whitecap team is summarising the key findings in a series of blogs.

In this article, Julian Wells and Chloe Thompson, of Whitecap Consulting, examine the extent to which collaboration can be seen across organisations within the AFM membership and discuss some of the associated challenges. They also highlight examples of collaborative relationships across the membership and identifies potential areas of opportunity for collaboration in the future, including cross-sector collaboration with other mutual organisations, posing three key questions to the CEOs. Read more

Competitive Advantage and Growth

Whitecap Consulting, in partnership with the Association of Financial Mutuals (AFM), recently published a report analysing the strategic landscape for financial mutual organisations in the UK. The Whitecap team is summarising the key findings in a series of blogs.

In this article, Luke Freeman and Chloe Thompson of Whitecap Consulting discuss the sources of competitive advantage that can be identified across the AFM membership as well as the areas of divergence across the sector. We also replay some of the report’s findings around the competitive differences between AFM providers that serve specialist markets and those that serve mass markets. Lastly, we suggest a number of questions for CEOs and leadership teams that encourage a discussion around core proposition and attitude to growth.  Read more

ESG and the potential opportunity for future competitiveness

Whitecap Consulting, in partnership with the Association of Financial Mutuals (AFM), recently published a report analysing the strategic landscape for financial mutual organisations in the UK. The Whitecap team is summarising the key findings in a series of blogs.

In this article, Richard Coates and Chloe Thompson of Whitecap Consulting examine the potential opportunity surrounding the ESG agenda, particularly with regards to its link to mutuality and social purpose and how financial mutuals can proactively engage with a broad spectrum of ESG activities as part of their strategic discipline. For example, reducing environment impact through energy use and CO2 footprint; leveraging social and human capital across the business model, including diversity and Inclusion; and providing leadership, governance, and risk management with current and prospective members. Read more

AFM Comments on the vote by members of LV= to reject the proposal to sell to Bain Capital

10 December 2021

Martin Shaw, Chief Executive of the Association of Financial Mutuals, stated:

“The Board of LV has failed to make its case.  Sufficient members have voted against the proposal to scupper the plans to sell the business to Bain capital, and as a truly democratic business, the Board must now take a different path.

“We expect that the Board will have heard the strong dissent from many members, and the equally strong concern expressed by politicians, and so must determine how the best interests of members are secured for the future.  We think this will be by remaining in mutual hands, either as an independent business with a new and more visionary Board, or by a merger with another mutual.

“The problems in LV were a result of recent management decisions, a falling membership base and a challenging capital position. Those are not problems that affect other mutual insurers, who in fact increased market share in 2020, and who gained wide-ranging credit for their support to members during the pandemic.”

Future role of digital technology for financial mutual organisations  

Whitecap Consulting, in partnership with the Association of Financial Mutuals (AFM) and a number of sponsoring partners, recently published a report analysing the strategic landscape for financial mutual organisations in the UK. The Whitecap team is summarising the key findings in a series of blogs.

In this article, Julian Wells and Chloe Thompson of Whitecap Consulting examine the role that digital technology will play for mutual organisations with regards to enhancing member engagement and delivering efficiency gains. The blog also discusses the current approaches to the adoption of technology across the AFM membership and poses a number of questions to CEOs and leadership teams that consider the potential opportunities surrounding technology and collaboration and the potential areas for future investment. Read more

The Mutual Ethos – Financial Mutuals, Friendly Societies, and Building Societies

Whitecap Consulting, in partnership with the Association of Financial Mutuals (AFM), recently published a report analysing the strategic landscape for financial mutual organisations in the UK. The Whitecap team is summarising the key findings in a series of blogs.

In this article, Luke Freeman and Chloe Thompson of Whitecap Consulting compare and contrast Whitecap’s research with AFM to its analysis of the building society sector, which was published in partnership with the Building Societies Association (BSA) earlier this year. Key similarities that can be identified include the successful deployment of a range of strategies and business models; organisations being extremely purpose driven; the importance of mutuality but also evidence of the associated challenges surrounding tangibility and member benefits; the appetite for collaboration, especially on technology and lastly, the challenge of navigating digital transformation in order to stay relevant to current and prospective members.

Read more

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