DEFINITION of 'Building Society'

A type of financial institution that provides banking and other financial services to its members. Building societies resemble credit unions in the U.S. in that they are owned entirely by their members. These societies offer mortgages and demand-deposit accounts and are often backed by insurance companies.

BREAKING DOWN 'Building Society'

"Building society" was first introduced as a term in 19th century England from groups of co-op savers in the building trades. These institutions are now major competitors of banks in the U.K. and are the equivalent of U.S. savings and loan institutions. Building societies can also be found in other countries, such as Australia, Ireland and Jamaica.

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