2020 marked 25 years of Triodos Bank in the UK. The bank has grown organically in this time to become an important part of the banking landscape and a reference point, challenging the way banking is done. Initially with just saving and lending operations, we now offer current accounts, investments, corporate finance, crowdfunding and much more to help our customers’ money work harder - changing lives, protecting the environment and building stronger communities. This year we were recognised with a Queen’s Award for Sustainable Enterprise, in the Sustainable Development category.

The arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic saw our priorities focus on caring for our co-workers and supporting our customers. The UK was badly impacted, as the public health crisis quickly spiralled into a social and economic crisis and government restrictions that inevitably hit many organisations and people. Figures suggest the UK saw the biggest decline in GDP in more than three centuries. It was also a year we reflected and acted on diversity and inclusion and focused on mental health awareness.

There was also much uncertainty about the nature of the Brexit deal in 2020, however we were prepared for this. It was the first full year operating as a wholely-owned subsidiary of Triodos Bank N.V. This arrangement ensures the continuity of services to our UK customers, and that we remain an important part of Europe’s largest sustainable bank.

The Covid crisis may have prompted even more people to consider the impact of their money. Our overall customer numbers grew 20% on the previous year to 73,000. The personal current account was a major driver of this. It remains the most sustainable personal current account in the UK - an inspiring alternative to the still dominant, large banks in the UK.

When launching the personal current account in 2017 we set a target of doubling overall customer numbers and we are now broadly on track to achieve this. Triodos was crowned Customer Service Champion at the British Bank Awards and Highly Commended in the Best Current Account category, as well as coming in overall runner-up for Best British Bank 2020. All thanks to votes and positive reviews from Triodos customers themselves.

National consumer polling in 2020 found that nearly two thirds (63%) now agree that their money needs to be moved away from fossil fuels and 70% say that banks need to be more transparent about where their money is invested. Attitudes to banking and money are changing and people are waking up to their choice in how it is used.

We have continued to broaden our offering as a bank. The existing portfolio of award-winning impact investment funds, managed by Triodos Investment Management, was bolstered with the launch of a new UK Sterling Bond Fund focused on corporate, social and green bonds that follow strict sustainable transition criteria. Overall, it was our highest ever year for sales of the funds at approximately GBP 34.3 million (2019: GBP 20.8 million).

Meanwhile, direct impact investment opportunities were made available to everyday investors on the Triodos crowdfunding platform (www.triodoscrowdfunding.co.uk). Approximately GBP 15 million was raised for a number of high impact social enterprises and charities. A capital-raising bond to raise tier 2 regulatory capital to support our ambition to grow lending in the UK in the coming years successfully raised GBP 2 million of retail investment in less than a week. We also launched the UK’s first Nature Based Investment pilot projects to encourage sustainable private sector investment in the natural environment.

A clear focus on positive impact

Customer deposits increased to GBP 1,413 million (2019: GBP 1,156 million). We have a clear focus on making this money work for positive social, environmental and cultural change. Ours is a strong model for what successful sustainable banking looks like and we remain steadfast in the promotion of responsible and transparent banking.

Total loan book grew to GBP 1,070 million (2019: GBP 976 million), an increase of 10% on 2019. Some of the highlights in this lending included finance to roll out EV charging infrastructure to 400 supermarkets for Pod Point, the UK’s first all-electric intercity coach service for Ember, and to sustainable transport business in EcoMove.

We financed our first UK sustainable housing development for private sale Ssassy Springfield Meadows, completed our first air source heat pump transaction and supported yet more renewable energy generation, including Morvern community hydro.

We continued to finance a large number of social organisations in help them extend their impact, including MAIN Middlesbrough, Caterham Barracks Community Trust and Hartpury University. As part of our response to the pandemic, we continued our support to Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs), helping them grow their lending to small grassroots businesses in economically disadvantaged areas.

We also joined the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and supported existing and new customers through crisis. We are proud of how Triodos has supported customers and the positive impact they have safeguarded at a time of real need.

Financing Change and Changing Finance

Our influence in the banking and finance sector more broadly was more active and visible in 2020 than ever before. Triodos featured on a new WWF film ‘Our Planet: Too Big To Fail’ that uses stunning footage from the Netflix series to show the role the finance sector can play in the transition to a sustainable future and was a launch partner for the Make My Money Matter campaign. We played a founding role in the Bankers for Net Zero initiative, that aims to find positive solutions for accelerating progress towards a net-zero world, and a lead role in launching the UK Chapter of Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF), an industry-led partnership to standardise carbon accounting for the financial sector.

We hope that as society recovers, the learnings from this Covid-19 crisis provide an opportunity for all banks to refocus on their role in society and consider the long-term welfare of customers in all their investment decisions. Values-based banking has never felt more relevant; money used in the right way really has the power to change the world. We are focused on becoming an even larger and more impactful retail bank in the UK, provided we can remain true to our mission and what we are here to do.

We take a lot of pride in what we achieve together as a bank that is uniquely focused on Financing Change and Changing Finance.

Bevis Watts
CEO, Triodos Bank UK

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