Like all of their customers, I admit to feeling a little heartbroken by the recent spate of disasters that have hit The Co-operative Bank, an institution that made its name as the UK's ethical bank.
More than being a personal account holder, I have long steered my charity start-up clients towards the Co-op. The dodgy dealings of most high street banks, especially in relation to the arms trade, are all too apparent. It makes sense that charities, as engines for social equality, should want a banking system that reflects their values.
So, I feel let down not just for myself, but also for my clients.
It remains to be seen what will become of the Co-operative brand in terms of ethics. For the time being, they still offer, by far, the best deal for charity banking with regard to their free banking review limit and the convenience of being able to bank at your local post office. There is still an ethical checklist for opening an account with them... though this may seem a little hypocritical having just been taken over by hedge funds.
I'd love to be able to champion an alternative ethical bank, such as Triodos or Charity Bank, but given this wide open opportunity to sell themselves amongst a captive audience, their lack of promotional enthusiasm is itself unenthusing. After spending time staring at their websites, all I really want to know is: how do your accounts measure up against what I used to have? Especially in terms of charity banking. Eventually I'm sure I will get around to doing the research and reading the small print.
For the time being, I'm willing to fight for the bank I always used to be extremely proud to be a part of.
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