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Introduction

Despite the credit crunch chaos that followed the collapse of Lehman Brothers, most people still choose their banks or building societies for reasons of convenience – simply because there’s a branch around the corner or because they had an account with a predecessor of one of today’s conglomerates. As customers we should keep tracks on the way our banks behave, and on the deep issues regarding modern finance and economy. In the current economic context, we truly have a role to play when it comes to choosing to use only ethical banks and building societies. By supporting an ethical, alternative bank you are ensuring your money doesn’t fund fossil fuels, human rights abuses, deeply questionable lobbying practices against progressive policies, or any number of other issues – you are ultimately making the choice to help assist in the development of and transition toward a better world.

Keyword-ResearchLook out for our new sector-specific Ethical Accreditation certification marks which now cover over 15 different consumer product sectors. These are additional to our original Ethical Company mark that features on the packaging of over 100 million consumer products every year.

Dodgy lending

The big banks have a notoriously bad history. Even in the last five years, banks have been condemned for funding rainforest destruction, for their involvement in highly controversial projects which damage the environment and hinder the fight against climate change, and for lending to governments of the world’s poorest countries so they can buy expensive military equipment (to name a few).

Since some mutual building societies don’t take business customers, they can never fund dubious business practices. Of those in the table, the Coventry, Yorkshire, Leeds do not lend commercially.

Perhaps the most rewarding way to store your money is with banks that have progressive investment policies. Charity Bank, the world’s first not-for-profit bank, only invests in social purpose organisations, while Triodos Bank lends solely to projects that add cultural value or are of benefit to people and the environment. Despite no longer being wholly owned by its members, the Co-op Bank has a transparent and comprehensive lending policy, available on their website.

Tax Havens and Tax Avoidance

In 2011, ActionAid released a report showing that of the UK’s biggest companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, the banking and financial sector were by far the heaviest users of tax havens. The ‘Big Four’ High Street banks – HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds Group and RBS had a total of 1,649 tax haven subsidiaries between them. One of the main reasons companies use tax havens is for Corporate tax avoidance, which has a far-reaching impact on developing and developed countries which then lack funds for essential services like healthcare and education.

In February 2015, HSBC was facing criminal charges in Belgium and a criminal investigation in France on the allegation that it “knowingly promoted serious and organised tax fraud” after leaked files revealed HSBC’s Swiss bankers aggressively marketed a device that would allow its clients to avoid taxes.

Ethical health check

Information on the environmental and social policies and reporting standards of a range of banks can be found in an EIRIS factsheet, available at www.eiris.org. Charity Bank has been awarded Ethical Accreditation and should be highly commended accordingly.

Ethical Comparison – Banks Rankings Detailed Table


Keyword-Research
Buy our detailed Ethical Research Reports. See the findings behind companies’ ethical ratings, as featured in The Good Shopping Guide. Several different product sectors available covering hundreds of consumer brands.

We have created ethical comparison rankings for the following brands, based on the activities of the company group (see above tables): Charity Bank, Ecology BS, Triodos Bank, Britannia BS, Co-op Bank, Chelsea BS, Cheshire BS, Derbyshire BS, Nationwide BS, Yorkshire BS, Coventry BS, Newcastle BS, Norwich & Peterborough, Leeds BS, Skipton BS, AIB, Bank of Ireland / Bristol & West, Clydesdale / Yorkshire Bank, Halifax / Bank of Scotland, HSBC, Lloyds, TSB, Natwest, Northern Rock, Alliance & Leicester, Barclays / Woolwich, Santander, CITIBANK

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LAST UPDATED: 2016