It was another great year of achievement and development for Triodos Bank UK, despite a challenging trading environment. The UK economy was buffeted by ongoing uncertainty around Brexit, particularly in the final quarter of 2018 as prime minister Theresa May worked to finalise a deal through negotiations with the EU. Britain’s jobs market was somewhat insulated from the effects of uncertainty and the economy managed to grow by 1.4% in 2018, but this was the lowest level seen since 2012.

Meanwhile, the UK experienced much more weather-related volatility than normal in 2018, as the ‘Beast from the East’ cold snap gave way to one of the hottest summers on record. The Bank of England governor Mark Carney continues to indicate that banks will soon have to start reporting on the risks posed by climate change on their assets, something we have been advocating for. Our work with the UK Government’s All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Fair Business Banking is pushing to progress the debate around the social purpose of banks.

We were recognised by the BusinessGreen Leaders awards as 'Investor of the Year', in relation to our support and financing of clean technologies, green infrastructure and sustainable business models.

Overall in the UK we reached an important milestone with our customer deposits growing to over GBP 1 billion for the first time. The total loan book amounted to almost GBP 876 million (EUR 975 million), an increase of 10% on 2017, demonstrating a commitment to diversifying lending to increase social, cultural and environmental impact.

Among the many highlights of the year was our first university loan to Winchester University to help fund a GBP 50 million green ‘BREEAM’ campus building and GBP 5 million to help organic vegetable box company Riverford Organic Farmers transfer to employee ownership. We also became one of the banks backing the London Mayor’s Energy Efficiency Fund (MEEF) to help hospitals, small businesses and universities cut their carbon emissions.

We grew to serve over 54,000 customers during 2018 and now have a fully operational Personal Current Account that has proved popular in a very competitive UK market. It has been rated by Ethical Consumer magazine as the most sustainable personal current account in the UK, an inspiring new alternative to the dominant, large banks. Ongoing and mainstream media coverage through the year delivered some important messages and challenges within it – particularly regarding the ‘myth’ of free banking and the potential democratic power of money.

Like all other European banks, we have been part of an ongoing discussion with regulators about the implications of UK’s expected withdrawal from the European Union. As our existing passporting arrangement from the Netherlands will no longer cover our UK banking activities, we have instead worked to create a new subsidiary company, Triodos Bank UK Ltd, wholly owned by Triodos Bank N.V.. This will ensure continuity of our services to our UK customers and allow us to continue operating within Triodos Bank Group. Further updates on this are available at triodos.co.uk/legaltransfer.

On the investing side, demographic changes, social media and awareness of the challenges facing our planet mean that investors are waking up to the fact there really is no such thing as a neutral investment. ‘Impact investing’ is now a hot topic – and we look beyond the traditional ESG and CSR approach that can often fail to deliver with the urgency we need to see. UK sales of our Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Funds managed by Triodos Investment Management were approximately GBP 16 million.

We became the first regulated bank in the UK to launch its own crowdfunding platform (www.triodoscrowdfunding.co.uk), providing direct investment opportunities to everyday investors. The site raised nearly GBP 20 million for nine pioneering organisations in 2018. More than 2,200 registered users funded bonds including community renewable projects, charities and organic entrepreneurs. One of my personal favourite projects was Fishtek Marine, an innovative company using new technology to help stop marine creatures becoming tangled in fishing nets.

Our marketing activity included headline sponsorship of the Abergavenny Food Festival, the Natural Capital Conference in London and the Festival of Economics in Bristol, with our Chief Economist Kees Vendrik featuring as a guest speaker. Support was also provided to the launch of the Thriving Places Index, a groundbreaking new system measuring our true prosperity - a progressive alternative to the simplistic measure of Gross Domestic Product.

Our ongoing affiliate programme goes from strength to strength. It now includes 27 organisations and charities aligned with our values, such as Freedom from Torture, Friends of the Earth and Soil Association.

Our 200 people-capacity event space at our Bristol headquarters ‘The Foundation’ held 92 events hosting more than 3,500 people. It is leased and run by the Triodos Foundation charity and offered to partners and charities at a discounted rate with all profits going to the Foundation.

In 2019 we will deliver stability around any necessary Brexit-related changes and be focused on growing retail customer numbers and delivering positive impact across a broader range of sectors, with renewed focus on financing small businesses and community-owned projects. A number of exciting new projects are also due to launch on the crowdfunding platform. We will remain closely involved in government initiatives to support the clean energy transition, including national funds to pump prime investment in renewable heat and electric vehicle infrastructure.

Bevis Watts
Managing Director

Key figures

in thousands of EUR

2018

2017

1

The amounts are shown before intercompany eliminations.

Funds entrusted

1,198,466

1,102,281

Number of accounts

62,570

58,798

 

 

 

Loans

975,274

899,228

Number

3,300

2,352

 

 

 

Balance sheet total1

1,395,205

1,290,142

 

 

 

Total income

34,292

31,610

Operating expenses

–29,747

–24,605

Value adjustments to receivables

213

–311

 

 

 

Operating result before taxation

4,758

6,694

Taxation on operating result

–1,254

–1,319

Net profit

3,504

5,375

 

 

 

Number of co-workers at year-end

186

167