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Triodos Bank in the UK – Header image (photo)

Triodos Bank in the UK

Branch report

2017 will be remembered as the year we launched a personal current account in the UK. Potentially the most sustainable personal current account ever brought to the UK market, we believe it is an inspiring new alternative to the dominant, large banks. Responding directly to consumer demand and after years of development, we unveiled the account in April creating widespread interest in the national press.

Meanwhile, amidst ongoing Brexit negotiations and a tumultuous political landscape, the UK economy had a tough year growing at its weakest rate in five years. The Bank of England increased the base rate to 0.5% in November, the first interest rate rise in the UK in more than a decade but still leaving rates at a historically low level. Meanwhile consumer price inflation hit an annual rate of 3.1 percent placing pressure on households.

Like all other European banks, we have been part of an ongoing process of discussion with the regulators about the implications of Brexit. We have remained committed to operating in the UK and want to support the UK’s sustainable economy and provide an option for individuals who want to embrace a more conscious approach to banking and finance.

Despite these challenges we delivered another record year of lending in the UK as the total loan book approached GBP 800 million. This was an increase of 12.5% on the previous year and included many new sectors and several high impact projects. For complete transparency, we continue to publish all our loans on, and the mobile app with the new personal current account includes this functionality.

Triodos UK grew significantly in staff numbers to support the personal current account and we made a number of new senior appointments. I believe we have managed to enhance our culture amidst that and remain a great place to work.

In a divided world it is heartening that we continue to be a very inclusive bank and one of my favourite projects of the year was the North London Muslim Housing Association which operates across four London boroughs. As well as providing affordable housing, it is involved in a range of community activities including helping its residents with employment and training opportunities, and with health and wellbeing support.

However, a personal favourite this year has been our loan to support Vitsoe which is the first time we have supported a circular economy business – one which makes long lasting lifetime products, and which operates incredibly high environmental sourcing standards and practices. In 2018 we will also be looking to further diversify our lending into new sectors and sustainable business.

In terms of impact investment, sales of our Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Funds managed by Triodos Investment Management doubled in the UK to around GBP £20 million. Our corporate finance team are working on the development of a new Crowdfunding platform incorporating Innovative Finance ISAs, and our social impact bond business – the raising of finance for clients in high social impact areas including youth unemployment, homelessness and children at the edge of care.

Media coverage of Triodos in the UK drove record levels of website visits and social media engagement. It also delivered some important messages and challenges within it – particularly regarding the ‘myth’ of free banking and the potential democratic power of money. This year we became headline sponsorship of the prestigious Festival of Economics in Bristol, feeding into discussions on our economic system and fairer finance. If we can move the debate on to re-modelling the financial sector to be a force for good, we can show how banks are uniquely placed to lead the transition to the sustainable economy.

To bring together our community together, we held our largest ever Annual Meeting in London with over 700 people attending, as well as networking events throughout the year attracting hundreds of customers and partners to discuss issues such as the organic market, wellbeing in the workplace and the circular economy.

A new 200 people-capacity event space opened at our Bristol headquarters. ‘The Foundation’ is leased and run by the Triodos Foundation charity and offered to partners and charities at a discounted rate with all profits going to the Foundation. Since it opened there have been 66 events with over 1,900 people attending.

We supported the release of two influential reports as part of a BankingFutures investigation into the creation of a healthy, resilient and inclusive banking sector, and were featured as an example of how to connect people with their money in a new independent review for the UK Government on mainstreaming social investment and savings in the UK. Entitled ‘Growing a Culture of Social Impact Investing in the UK’, the report outlined key recommendations to help grow the number of social impact investors and ensure financial providers help people support the issues they care about through their savings and investment choices.

In 2018, we will deliver requirements resulting from Brexit, but also remain focused on undertaking another momentous year across the business. It will include the launch of the new Crowdfunding Platform, advertising campaign materials that will enable much greater flexibility in our marketing and an upgrade our online presence through the launch of a new UK website.

Bevis Watts
Managing Director

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