Sustainable Banking in Europe

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European countries are leading in sustainability. This trend is supported by strong development of ethical/sustainable banks in the region.
Sustainable banks are much more oriented on real economy and local communities. Apparently this reflects favourably on the financial performance. Financials over the years demonstrate that ethical banks typically have strong capital positions and high resiliency during the times of crisis. This is why success stories in European ethical banking are closely followed by an increasing number of clients and finance passionates.
Here are some of our favourite sustainable/ethical banking stories. To learn about more outstanding banking initiatives, take a look at our “On the Radar” material.

Banca Popolare Etica (Italy, Spain)

Banca Etica is a cooperative bank that operates in Italy and Spain. It was established thanks to the commitment of a number of individuals and organizations who joined forces to create a credit institution based on Ethical Finance principles: transparency, participation, sobriety, efficiency and attention to the non-economic consequences of economic actions.
In the process of raising the share capital, thousands of citizens spontaneously joined the founding organizations* to become shareholders in the exciting project of building a bank together. The total amount of required share capital was raised by 1998 and shortly afterwards the Bank of Italy granted authorization to operate.
Its democratic management and ethical approach are ensured by the fact that its members freely participate according to the “one head, one vote” principle: all shareholders have the same right to vote in the General Assembly, irrespective of the number of shares they own. Thanks to the savings accumulated, Banca Etica funds projects aimed at welfare, social economy, environmental protection, innovation, international cooperation and culture. This information is verifiable: Banca Etica is the only bank in Italy that publishes all its loans on its website.
Banca Etica offers the main banking products and services, and a different banking experience founded on relationships: the focus on people and organizations is guaranteed by a network of bank branches and financial advisors all over Italy, in addition to complete online service accessible to all clients. Ninety groups of volunteer members work to ensure the development of local relations, promoting the Ethical Finance culture and the possibility of actively participating in an economic democracy project.

Triodos (Netherlands)

Triodos Bank wants to promote human dignity, environmental conservation and a focus on people’s quality of life in general. Key to this is a genuinely responsible approach to business, transparency and using money more consciously. Triodos Bank puts values-based banking into practice. We want to connect depositors and investors with socially responsible businesses to build a movement for a sustainable, socially inclusive society, built on the conscious use of money.
Bank customers not only want sustainable products and services, but also fair prices and a reliable service. Triodos Bank offers products and services with a purpose to promote sustainable development. And it does so, in the context of meaningful, transparent relationships with its customers.
Triodos Bank’s service is built on deepening and developing long-term relationships with its customers. Relationships are nurtured through various on and offline channels, including offices where customers meet co-workers face-to-face and at community events.
Triodos Bank’s vision and approach has led to international recognition. Its participation in the public debate, often through high-impact events that it hosts and participates in, means people can see what Triodos Bank stands for and hear its opinions about important social trends. Triodos Bank’s identity is crucial for its brand and reputation.

Alternative Bank Switzerland (Switzerland)

Alternative Bank Switzerland emphasizes ethical principles and transparency instead of maximum profits. As the leading provider of ethical banking services and a pioneer in sustainable finance, ABS promotes through its financing and investment activities projects in the area of affordable and ecological housing, renewable energy, organic farming and social organizations. ABSoperates throughout Switzerland and has offices in Olten, Lausanne, Zurich and Geneva.
ABS´s products and services are aligned with its client requirements concerning savings, investments, financial security, company financing, real estate and monetary transactions. Loans are issued principally in the area of social or ecological housing (also for private individuals), organic agriculture, renewable energy, as well as SME’s. ABS offers investment advice and ethical/sustainable investment funds.
ABS focuses on its ethical principles since it was founded almost 30 years ago. The bank publishes all loans that it grants in order to achieve transparency in line with its guiding principles. ABS makes sure that the money that is invested with the bank is legally taxed. ABS gets by without a bonus system and is committed to gender equality.
More on sustainable banking:
To learn about more outstanding banking initiatives, take a look at our “On the Radar” material.