- noun a financial institution which accepts and pays interest on deposits, and lends money to people who are buying property against the security of the property which is being bought
- noun a financial institution which accepts and pays interest on deposits and lends money to people who are buying property against the security of the property. Building societies mainly invest the money deposited with them as mortgages on properties, but a percentage is invested in government securities. Societies can now offer a range of banking services, such as chequebooks, standing orders and overdrafts, and now operate in much the same way as banks. Indeed, many building societies have changed from mutual status, where the owners of the society are its investors and borrowers, to become publicly-owned banks. The comparable US institutions are the savings & loan associations, or thrifts. Building societies are regulated by the Building Societies ombudsman, whose duty is to investigate complaints by members of the public against building societies. All building societies belong to the Building Societies Ombudsman Scheme.