Triodos Bank UK CEO: “We’re no ‘challenger bank’, we exist to challenge the way banking is done”

[CEO describes]  Triodos as a “sustainable bank”, indeed the bank started life in the 1980s as the brainchild of four Dutch friends who sought to create a financial services group with the aim of promoting human quality of life and a more fair and sustainable society… “We exist to challenge the way banking is done. And that’s not really why most challengers exist, most exist really just for competition’s sake.”

A sustainable bank? For a start, the bank publishes the details of every loan and investment it makes, with money only offered “for things that can demonstrate positive environmental, social or cultural good”. 

In the world of ethical investing, the bank has found itself in a booming market, with interest in ESG (Environmental, social and corporate governance) and SRI (sustainable, responsible and ethical investments)… 

Instead of selling off-the-shelf funds, Triodos formed its own investment management team in the Netherlands to create unique ethical investment funds for its customers… Finally, in 2018 Triodos decided to launch its own platform in the unlisted equities investment space, led by the demand for an ethical crowdfunding alternative. 

Again, rather than partnering with one of the larger players, the Crowdcubes and Seedrs of the world, Triodos left an earlier partnership with Ethex and took things in-house. It now offers its own direct investments via a bespoke crowdfunding platform with every listing vetted by the bank… “We have to protect the brand properly and to really own what’s being put on this platform and what we’re promoting to people.” 

All these above offerings come together to, as Watts puts it, “both to finance change, and change finance”.