A friendly society, sometimes referred to as a mutual society, is a financial organisation owned by its members and not shareholders.
Today, there is very little difference between a friendly society and a building society, but historically friendly societies were set up to provide insurance-style services, while building societies were set up to help their members buy houses.
Friendly societies offer a variety of services including savings accounts, child trust funds, loans, credit cards, as well as insurance.
They are different from banks and traditional insurers, which are companies owned by shareholders and run for profit.
Instead friendly societies are run by and for their members, who all have the right to vote for a board to run the company and speak at meetings.