To some, the banking world can seem laced with negative connotations, representative of greed, and filled with damaging practices and structures. However, we know that the definition of banking doesn’t stop at the crises we’ve witnessed – here are five banks making remarkable progress away from the profiteering focus of yesteryear.
Duration : 2 min to read
Based in the Netherlands and founded in 1990, Triodos claims to be a pioneer in ethical banking. Their focus on 100% transparency, positive impact, and community means that their customers know exactly where their money goes, understand the social, cultural, and environmental impact of each of the bank’s decisions, and can be confident that the money is being used to bring about a fair and more sustainable world.
CEO of Triodos Bank, Peter Blom, has spoken of the progress these new forms of banking are implementing. “Our banking industry has an unprecedented opportunity to change, to help meet some of the greatest social and environmental issues of our time,” he told the Global Alliance for Banking on Values. “Doing good is beneficial for banks not just in a theoretical and ethical sense, but also financially, when measured against conventional benchmarks such as the financial bottom line.”
Run from a small town in Kent, UK and with just 44 employees, Charity Bank has been providing low-cost loans to charities and social enterprises since its establishment in 2002. They lend to projects, organizations, and individuals who help improve and enrich the society we live in, and attract their savers with fair interest rates and specialist support.
Unity Trust Bank
Set up in 1984 to finance charities, social enterprises, co-operatives, voluntary and community organizations, trade unions, councils, and housing associations, Unity Trust Bank embraces the philosophy of the common good, not one principally influenced by the maximization of profit.
Svenska Handelsbanken AB
For the sixth year in a row, a survey by the Extended Performance Satisfaction Index has found Handelsbanken’s customers are significantly more satisfied with their banking experience than those of any of the major high street alternatives – so much so, that Handelsbanken’s lead has been steadily increasing year on year. A Swedish bank founded in 1871, Handelsbanken works across multiple countries of Northern Europe, and runs a decentralized, customized service.
This German bank makes a strong and transparent point not to invest in anything damaging, negative, or detrimental, going out of its way to state that to approach consideration their investments must be highly committed to a sustainable economy. Transparency is key here – since being founded in 2002, EthikBank has used the metaphor of a “glass company” to illustrate their prioritizing of ethical, open practice.
A 2012 study by the Global Alliance for Banking on Values demonstrated that sustainable value-based banks, which base their decisions first and foremost on the needs of people and the environment, are outperforming traditional mainstream banks in multiple key areas. Achievements such as return on assets, growth in loans and deposits, and general capital strength are all indicators of health that are beginning to eclipse their counterparts in the traditional banking environment.