Home > About us > Our Mutual Heritage

The fundamental principle of mutual organisations is that they are owned by their members and act in their best interests.

As a mutual, this means our focus at OneFamily has always been to grow and protect value for our members, rather than generating profit for owners or shareholders. It also means our members can have their say on how we run our business.

A brief history of mutuals

Friendly Societies and mutuals have existed in Europe since the 18th century. They were the original social network, and people joined to contribute to a mutual fund and receive benefits in times of hardship. This was especially important in those times, as losing income would often result in having to beg or live in the poorhouse.

By the late 1800s there were roughly 27,000 registered mutual societies in existence

The introduction of the Welfare State in the UK in the mid-20th century led to a decline in membership, and there are now fewer than 200 friendly societies and mutuals in the UK. However, these remaining societies continue to work to the same ethos of helping their members manage their finances and operating in a fair and transparent way for their benefit.

At OneFamily we’re proud to keep this mutual ethos going, and it’s at the heart of everything we do.

We’re owned by our members for our members, and we strive to do the best by them, their families and their communities.

Over 50s Life Cover generations

Our history of community engagement

Supporting our local community, and our members communities, has been a key focus of ours for many years. How we’ve achieved this has evolved over time, but our community-minded ethos remains strong.

Our award-winning community programme ran in the 1990s and saw us working in partnership with local voluntary organisations on initiatives including education & training, the environment and homelessness.

The programme was designed to provide human resources - including volunteering and fundraising – rather than simply donating money. Its philosophy was based on employment and involvement, with a strong desire to give something back to the community – one of the first principles of mutuality.

We’ve always taken a different approach to working with the local community and believe the key to sustainability is through creating mutually beneficial relationships and activities – those that benefit the community as well as help to develop and motivate our colleagues.

When we merged with Engage Mutual in 2014, we knew that we were joining with a company whose mutual values matched our own.

The Engage Foundation was launched in January 2014, providing individual grants of up to £500 and awards of £5,000 and £25,000 for customer nominated community projects such as supporting people with Alzheimer's, and creating a sensory room for a terminally ill child to enable her to stay in school.

After Family Investments and Engage Mutual merged to become OneFamily, we continued to take the Foundation from strength to strength, awarding over £4 million to our customers and the causes they’re passionate about since 2015.

Inspiring Better Futures in our communities

We’ve always been passionate about improving access to education and promoting financial resilience through our community work.

Here are just some of the ways we’ve got involved over the years:

Age UK

We’ve been working with Age UK Brighton for over 20 years. Our employees have supported them in many ways, from summer outings, teaching essential IT skills and hosting a Christmas event at our Brighton office each year

Business Community Partnership

In 2009, 11 employees were trained as mentors through a programme run through our local Business Community Partnership - supporting lone parents, and helping the long term unemployed to get back into work

Interview experience

We helped local colleges give students valuable interview experience by applying for and attending mock interviews with us

Maths club

We ran maths clubs and one-to-one reading classes in a local primary school

Education in the City

In 2008 we linked up with Education in the City, to educate primary school children on the concept of “What Money Means” and support children in learning about finance

Art workshops

We worked with Brighton and Hove City Council to sponsor a series of art-based workshops with local nurseries, helping to improve co-ordination, imagination and communication using art and music

Sharing our financial knowledge

In 2014 we invited sixth form students to attend weekly lessons at our office, where experts took them through special classes to boost their financial knowledge

World of Work Day

In 2010 we teamed up with EDF Energy and the Brighton Hilton Metropole hotel to provide a World of Work Day for over 100 local students to help them prepare for life after school

Our history of accessible products

OneFamily has always maintained the same values as the early mutuals, with investment products that are accessible – regardless of financial circumstances. We launched our Family Bond in 1975, which has provided consistently low minimum investment options for members to this day. Our Personal Equity Plans (PEPs) were introduced in 1993 and provided further cost-effective investment options for our members with monthly contributions starting at £9 per month - well below what our competitors offered at the time.

Our accessible products today

We've always believed in providing products that are accessible regardless of your financial circumstances - and that's reflected in our products today as it was in the past.

Junior ISA

Investment products

Require low minimum contributions, making them available to every type of investor. For example, our Junior ISA* contributions start from just £10 per month


Life cover

Our guaranteed acceptance Over 50s Life Cover doesn't require medical underwriting and provides a simple way for members to protect themselves and their families


Equity release

Our lifetime mortgage products and OneFamily Advice service offer flexible financial solutions for those in later life. Whether it's to repay an existing mortgage, increase retirement income or help family onto the property ladder, we provide solutions that allow those in later life to release equity while remaining in their own home

*When you invest in stocks and shares, your capital is at risk as the value of investments can go up and down.

Our history of ethical investments

We have a long history of providing ethical and sustainable investments. Our Family Charities Ethical fund launched in 1982 and aims to avoid investing in things such as ozone-depleting chemicals, intensive farming and cosmetic testing on animals.

Homeowners Friendly Society (later to become Engage Mutual, then OneFamily) had a similar longstanding history. The Homeowners Green Chip Fund was launched in 1991. It used the Ethical Investment Research Service to identify companies with good environmental records to invest in for their Children’s Bond before similar products were commonplace.

We've provided a wide variety of ethical and sustainable investment products over the years, including Child Trust Funds (CTFs), ISA PEPs and Unit Trusts. The launch of our Ethical Child Trust Fund in November 2006 provided eco-conscious parents with the only actively managed ethical stakeholder CTF available in the market at the time.

We believe it’s important to provide products that invest your money in the right way. In 2020, we launched our new climate-friendly investment ISAs that help make a difference to the environment.

Learn more about our climate-friendly investments


Ethical investments

Parents opening an Ethical CTF from 2006 with a Direct Debit were given the choice to have a tree planted on their behalf. We committed to planting over 1,500 trees in the first year through the Tree Appeal, and we've planted over 10,000 trees since.

Playing our part in Inspiring Better Futures

As a member-owned business, we believe that what we do should have a positive impact on our workplace, customers, communities and the wider world.

We launched our new vision in 2020 to bring our mutual values together and make Inspiring Better Futures an integral part of everything we do.

Find out more