Triodos Bank finances projects, institutions, individuals as well as companies that promote cultural value and benefit people and the environment. The bank offers a range of services that include saving, investing, asset management, private banking, payment services, lending and insurance.
The lending consist of the sectors Nature & Environment which in 2009 accounts for 4 7 % and entails energy projects such as wind power and hydroelectric projects. It also embraces organic agriculture, projects across the entire agricultural chain and environmental technology, such as recycling companies. Further 21% of the loans are distributed to Social Business whether they are traditional businesses, innovative enterprises or service providers with clear social objectives.The Culture&Welfare sector (30%) includes small loans to organisations working in education, care for people with disabilities, complementary healthcare and artists. All the enterprises Triodos Bank lends to in this sector have a clear, people-centred policy.
The Investment takes place through investment funds or investment institutions bearing the Triodos name and managed by Triodos Bank. Theses funds do not occur on the Bank’s balance sheet, they publish separate annual reports and each has its own Annual General Meeting of Shareholders. In 2008, there were 13 investment funds, in which individuals and institutions could invest.
The world as a whole is constantly challenged by unethical operations regarding environmental issues, human rights issues and developing issues. The constant battle against companies and projects that contribute to pollution, wars and violation of human rights etc. is an ethical challenge that also banks that finance these operations should take into account. When lending money to different projects, companies and institutions, banks are contributing to building societies. This because all projects, companies and institutions are dependent on finance in order to operate, and thus banks have an indirect responsibility for their actions.
Triodos Bank only lends to social businesses, charities, community projects and environmental initiatives. By selecting the projects, companies and institutions based on the value added they contribute to the society; Triodos Bank is addressing the ethical challenge of investing its customer’s deposits in operations that contribute to a more sustainable society. Triodos Bank’s financing policies contributes to and encourages operations that create a better world; community wise, environmental wise, developing wise and regarding human rights.
Furthermore, a bank is lending its customers deposits, thus they have an ethical obligation to act in the interest of their customers. With Triodos Bank’s commitment to transparency, and by publishing their lending’s, they are taking the issue of information and responsibility to act in the interest of their customers seriously.
Why do we trust Tridos?
Triodos Bank finances companies, institutions and projects with the support of depositors and investors who want to encourage corporate social responsibility and a sustainable society. Triodos is a pioneer in ethical banking because it is concerned with the social and environmental impacts of its investments and loans. We really think that Triodos is an ethical company because its mission is:
• To help create a society that promotes people’s quality of life and that has human dignity at its core.
• To enable individuals, institutions and businesses to use money more consciously in ways that benefit people and the environment, and promote sustainable development.
• To offer their customers sustainable financial products and high quality service.
They enable money to work for positive social, environmental and cultural change by offering a comprehensive range of banking.
Their corporate values are: Sustainability, Transparency, Excellence and Entrepreneurship. And as we know, ethical profitable behavior can be distinguished from profitable unethical behaviors by the transparent and confidential attitudes they imply. Here, in the case of ethical business, there is an interest in ensuring the transparency of the ethical dimensions of behavior.
Triodos Bank seeks to invest in companies that are not in fundamental conflict with their values and that deliver long-term value in harmony with society and the environment. Dialogue with companies is then an important part of the process.
Furthermore, they exercise voting rights to responsible share-ownership. By attending annual general meetings and by voting, they are able to challenge companies to do things in a more sustainable way, and in a way that benefits not only shareholders, but all stakeholders. They also contribute to a more people-oriented society. Triodos Bank has identified seven themes, which it considers most relevant for society. These themes include the responsible use of their cultural heritage, animal welfare, ecosystems, human rights, natural resources, social structures and human health.
We trust it is ethical because Triodos is unusual as it only lends to businesses and charities judged to be of social or ecological benefit. This "positive screening" extends its policies beyond those of ethical banks which solely avoid investing in companies judged to be doing harm.
Future challenges and improvements
One of Triodos key businesses is ‘continuous improvement’, which means that they continuously seek to improve all facets of their business. For example, they have developed their own voting guidelines, and each year they focus on specific sustainability themes. In 2009 these are climate change, obsolescence (lifespan of products) and directors’ remuneration. In addition to voting and raising questions at AGMs, they also meet with companies to help encourage their sustainability strategy and performance.
Triodos Bank has announced plans for a new capital raising offer this autumn thanks to a strong growth across all its activities. Over the next three to four years, the Bank expects to double its balance sheet total, customer numbers and lending to sustainable companies. The financial crisis has led to unprecedented interest in Triodos Bank’s sustainable approach to banking. The planned capital raising will help support the Bank’s anticipated growth.
The launch of the Triodos Microfinance Fund aims to increase access to financial services for the working poor in developing countries and is expected to grow from its first close of EUR 22 million to EUR 100 million by the end of the year. Then, we really think that the company is in great progress and announce good results and improvements for the future. They are increasing their impact on company behaviour.