Triodos calls for a fundamental shift in banking
Banks brought the economy to its knees - now they must take an active role in building it up again
Triodos Bank UK Managing Director, Charles Middleton, comments on the growing frustration with the banks across the globe.
"The recent activity in the capital and around the globe highlights the growing sense of frustration people are feeling towards the banking sector. The industry’s failure to address fundamental issues about how they operate has seriously damaged people’s confidence in their banks and the sector as a whole.
"As the Archbishop of Canterbury commented recently, there is a sense of a whole society paying for the errors and irresponsibility of bankers and of impatience with a return to 'business as usual'.
"More and more people are looking at the banks, the very organisations who brought the economy to its knees, and demanding they take an active role in helping to build it back up again.
"We strongly believe that banks and money should act as enablers of positive change, but it feels as if we have lost our way as a sector in terms of purpose and potential. We need to see the industry supporting and focusing more on the real economy and its future rather than operating with a primary mission of delivering short-term shareholder returns.
"Recent research from Triodos suggests people feel their banks should have a more positive impact on society. Two thirds (64 per cent) wanted to see more investment in community and social groups and a similar number (62 per cent) would like to see banks doing more to support renewable energy initiatives. A quarter of respondents (25 per cent) want to see greater investment in organic farming and one in five (20 per cent) feel the arts and culture deserve more support from the banking community.
"At present only a fraction of the money currently lent and invested by the main banks is used to bring about positive change, particularly through SMEs and clearly the banks’ customers do not think this is good enough.
"The fact that only one in six people believe their bank should have no role to play in helping society sends out a very clear call to action to policymakers, shareholders, and bank executives, which is to ensure the banking sector gives more back to society rather than just taking.
"Individuals can feel powerless to create change in the face of such challenges, and as the Archbishop says, it isn't always easy to say what we should do differently and it is time we tried to be more specific. I believe strongly that a key change that everyone can make is thinking about how banks use their money and where they choose to put their savings. By switching to ethical banking, savers can make a conscious choice on putting their money to positive use in our society whilst still receiving a good return. They can vote with their feet on the prevailing greed and inequality that we see, and together we can make things happen."
Charles Middleton, Managing Director, Triodos Bank UK
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About Triodos Bank
Triodos Bank only finances Loan customers creating social, environmental or cultural added value - ranging from large ethical Loan customers to smaller, innovative organisations meeting local needs. Key sectors include organic food and farming, renewable energy, social housing and fair trade. Transparency is a core value: customers are informed about the Bank's lending and can target their savings to particular areas of investment. A range of personal savings accounts is offered and full banking services are available for businesses and charities.