Why we’re finally turning our back on the Co-operative Bank


Published: 28th Apr 2017 by Debbie Griffiths
Categories: CSR,  Sustainability

The switch is underway and in a week’s time, Ideal Word Ltd will close its small business bank account with the Co-operative Bank and return to Lloyds.

Orderly failure

I still feel guilty about being the latest rat to leave the sinking ship, but my business head overruled my social conscience the day I learned that the Bank of England expected an ‘orderly failure’ of the 150 year old ethical institution.

As my partner’s been pointing out for ages, the Co-op Bank ceased being the 100% ethical choice for business banking when the Co-op Bank sold its stake to hedge funds the other year. I’ve stuck with it and its antiquated online banking more in hope, rather than for the free banking we enjoy as Federation of Small Business (FSB) members. Or the annual loyalty bonus. Generous gestures that it obviously can’t afford.

Ethical banking

It’s a real shame as I really like the Co-operative’s ethical policy and practices. I don’t want my money being loaned to businesses we wouldn’t do business with ourselves. The same applies at Triodos – the ethical Dutch bank that’s astutely just launched its first UK personal current account. Please let me know when you’ll offer this for business customers, like us.

Even though we only want to save with Triodos, their vetting of us was as detailed as it would be for any business looking for a loan or investment. If you’re in the majority of people who’ve never heard of them, check them out in Bristol. I cross my fingers that they can stick around post-Brexit.

Why Lloyds?

So why Lloyds? Well, I wouldn’t bank with Barclays because of libor, fracking, executive excesses etc. And I’m worried what the Government has planned for RBS Nat West.  Besides, there are plenty of positive reasons why I chose Lloyds Bank:

  • They’ve paid back their government bailout, so appear financially strong
  • They offer free banking for SMEs for six months
  • They have good online banking
  • They are still present on the high street – smaller branches, but still there for the local community

And last, but by no means least for me, I really like their ‘Helping Britain Prosper’ CSR plan and reporting.

Prosperity, people, planet

So, thank you Co-op for flying the flag for responsible banking. It’s a difficult job being an ethical pioneer. You did a good job, but you put people and planet before profit. I understand why. We’ve done it ourselves in the past. But a business can’t do that. The books have to balance. That's why our mantra is prosperity, people, planet. We wish you all the best in finding a new buyer. I still don’t want to see you fail orderly. 



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