Speaking at the Building Societies Association (BSA) annual lecture, consumer magazine Which? warned UK mutuals that putting consumers at the top of the agenda was the only way to stay afloat.
Many building societies have come under scrutiny lately amid reports that they are overcharging customers beyond just covering costs.
With no shareholders involved, building societies are seen by consumers as a more ethical option - a company that will look after customers interests first - so this news could have been potentially damaging for the industry.
A spokesperson for the BSA said that the only reason for charges and fees at building societies to rise was that costs were also increasing.
"Any money that they (building societies) make is then returned to the people's accounts with them so it is not actually in their interest to rip customers off," the BSA said.
"Building societies who rip their customers off wouldn't last very long. Or rather, the management wouldn't."To read more about building societies, click here.
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