Banking for the Future


 

As awareness of how I live and relate to the ecosystems round me has grown over the years I’ve made many changes: such as what I eat, how I travel and what I buy. I’ve also tried to invest my savings in socially responsible ways. But I’ve not done anything about my current account although I’m aware that my money at NatWest bank for the last 50 years could well have been used to fund oil exploration or arms (though I guess my account wouldn’t have done more than provide finance for a firing pin).

There’s always a process to these changes isn’t there? You become aware of the issues, you mull it over - sometimes for years - meaning to do something and then there’s a trigger point that decides you. I have thought several times about opening an account with the Co-op. Now they’ve been taken over by the commercial Royal London Group although they still have quite strong ethical policies compared with many banks. The other option I considered vaguely was Nationwide because they are a building society with reasonably ethical policies as far as I can tell. And others have suggested Metro Bank.

 

And then this year Triodos announced a new current account. I’ve had savings with them for some years and their ethical credentials are second to none (see below) but I still held off. I thought the switch would be difficult and I was concerned about not having a branch nearby (NatWest in Lewes have always been really helpful). The fact that they charge £3 a month was also a slight disincentive but it is really not a lot of money. I finally took the plunge about a month ago. Under the seven-day switch guarantee that banks offer now, everything has just transferred from NatWest to Triodos seamlessly. More on the switch... 

 

OK, there are no branches and I still find that a bit unnerving but Triodos were really friendly and helpful on the telephone the one time I phoned to ask them something. They know that is important to customers. Otherwise the online banking that I do is almost identical to using NatWest including the mobile app and I haven’t had a single problem with any of my standing orders or direct debits. Perfect!

  So what makes Triodos so special? They are a Dutch bank with a British presence. Money is guaranteed under the Dutch deposit guarantee scheme. Their mission is “to make money work for positive social, environmental and cultural change.” Their uniquely sustainable approach is based on their lending of savers’ money to businesses they know well, not on investment in complex financial instruments. They also only lend to people or organisations working to make the world a better place and they are totally transparent publishing lists of exactly who they lend to. 

I personally know several not-for-profit organisations they have lent to and been involved in negotiating with them for a business loan for one such organisation and I am deeply impressed with their professionalism and ethical approach.

 

Here’s a brief introduction...

I do believe they are the face of future sustainable banking.

Julia Waterlow, TTL.