Roger Hattam, director of retail banking, Triodos Bank UK

Having worked at a range of organisations I know slogans written on the walls or websites don’t always match the reality of day-to-day life in an organisation or a reflection of what goes on in the boardroom. What has been so refreshing and inspiring about my experience of life inside of Triodos, is that it really is intentional and authentic in everything it tries to do.

Which is why when the Merriam-Webster dictionary announced “authentic” as its 2023 word of the year, it felt very fitting for Triodos. But I suspect the choice of the word is as much a reflection on the lack of authenticity we are surrounded by in today’s world – from our politicians, social media stories, deep fake artificial intelligence, and perhaps banks claiming they are ‘green’ but really, how green are they?

For us the issue of authenticity runs deep because we are not only aiming to run a bank with decent products and good customer service; we are trying – with the conscious use of money – to make the world a better place. Indeed our vision is a prosperous life for people on a thriving planet. We exist to try to use money as a force for good in helping address issues like the climate and nature emergency and inequality. It’s also why we will continue to be advocates for positive change in these areas.

Thankfully, there continue to be others who can vouch for our authenticity, and this year several awards and accreditations continue to demonstrate our position as the top ethical bank in the UK.

As customer Chris Packham said in his endorsement for us  at the beginning of the year (which he provided without charge), we are about transparency, only investing in positive initiatives and being a community that’s using money as a force for good.

Continuing to deliver real impact

We remain focused on financing new and impactful projects. In one of the toughest years in recent history for our business banking team, they have done an amazing job.

Two of the most exciting projects I’ve seen us finance this year were Oxygen Conservation for nature restoration projects and Heal Rewilding, which aims to establish rewilding nature reserves in every English county. 

Heal Rewilding is a registered UK charity aiming to tackle the nature and climate crises while creating new jobs and work for local businesses.

Knowing that we need a major shift to a much more nature-based economy, and in support of our ambitious As One to Zero 2035 target, we will be working on many more nature-based initiatives in the coming years. 

It is representative of our broader vision on positive impact, as can be seen in the range of areas and organisations that we finance. Some of my favourite new loans this year have been to Forest electric bikes in London, the pioneering Jamie’s Farm charity and Gympanzees, which is building a leisure centre for disabled children and young people in the Bristol region.

We will keep bringing you the stories of such organisations from across the UK that we can finance, thanks to your support.

Taking a stand

Banking is not just a utility. Nor is it neutral. Every financial deal or investment has an impact, negative or positive. Having worked in finance for many years and being involved in the debt charity sector, I have seen first-hand the negative effects money can have on people and planet.

The recent whirlwind of high profile media coverage focused on ‘debanking’ completely missed a broader reflection on the importance and purpose of banks in society and their potential to drive positive change.

Over £1.8 million was raised on the Triodos Crowdfunding platform for Thrive Renewables this year.

It looks like 2023 will be the hottest year on record and many planetary boundaries are being breached. Whilst there has been progress in some areas of finance and wider policy this year, the UK government’s lack of consistent message on net zero lacks the authenticity, urgency and commitment we need from our leaders. We will continue to demand more accountability and action from the finance industry and policy makers.

Knowing that we are more relevant than ever our commitment remains the same as it has always been - enabling a prosperous life for people on a thriving planet.​  

In all of this, we remain encouraged and privileged to partner with so many customers, supporters, and like-minded organisations. From all of us at Triodos Bank UK, thank you for your support and we wish you a happy, peaceful and healthy new year. Let’s hope that 2024 brings some serious, authentic progress on the issues we all care about.