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What is ethical business banking?

  • Blog
  • 29 November 2016

The choice of bank for your business doesn’t always have to come down to the services it provides or the accounts on offer.

Sometimes, a bank’s ethical stance can be a deciding factor too. When it comes to business banking, according to reports, many companies are increasingly turning to ethical banking.

So what exactly is ethical banking? We help explain what you need to know, show the benefits it can offer your business, and suggest what to look for when choosing an ethical bank.

What is ethical business banking?

Understanding ethical banking

Ethical banking, at its core, is a banking system that follows practices that have a positive environmental and social impact. This can range from the products a bank offers and the businesses they fund to the relationships they build with their customers.     

While an ethical bank is still a business and tries to earn profits, it will try to do so in a way that’s in line with their practices to support communities and the environment. And, once they decide on their principles, they stick to them.

In terms of helping the environment, this could include backing an initiative to research renewable energy, or supporting an eco-friendly start-up business. In providing social support, it could include helping poorer communities by financing affordable housing.  

As a customer of an ethical bank, the idea is that you know your money will be invested in schemes and projects, which have a social and environmental benefit. You also know your money won’t be invested in commodities and sectors, which have a harmful impact on society or the environment, as well as businesses that follow immoral or unethical practices. This could include tobacco or fossil fuel extraction, or a company with a history of child labour.

Ethical banking for businesses

Ethical banks operate on a day-to-day basis and usually offer the same services and perks associated with regular business banking. This includes free service charges, change services, business credit cards, overdraft facilities, and loans. But with these benefits is the additional knowledge that any investment the bank makes, using your business’s money, will be for a worthy cause.

Ethical banking often offers customers an increased level of transparency, so you can see where and how your money is being used. For instance, they may provide access to policy information and online documents about current schemes they’re supporting or previous projects they’ve backed. This could include details of the impact their funding is having, or has had, on a project, and the wider non-financial success of an investment, such as how it has benefited the environment.

Choosing an ethical bank

When choosing an ethical bank, deciding on the best financial provider for your business doesn’t just come down to rates or the quality of their service. You can also consider the projects and schemes they might support. You can also align a bank’s ethical policy and the causes it supports with your business and its values.

This means you can choose a bank that shares your values, and you can associate your business with worthwhile causes and initiatives that you believe in. Therefore, by looking at information such as a bank’s ethical policy, you can find the right ethical banking for your business, based not only on services but an ideological viewpoint.

FSB provides members with an ethical business bank account through The Co-operative Bank. The bank has a detailed ethical policy that outlines its views and practices, such as its values for ethics and the community, the causes and initiatives it supports, and the types of business it avoids.

As part of The Co-operative Bank’s unique business banking package, FSB also provides a range of benefits exclusively to members. This includes:

  • Using UK-based call centres
  • 24/7 access to online business banking
  • Free change facilities at The Co-operative Bank branches
  • Free to pay in up to £2000 cash per month
  • No charges on everyday banking services, including paying in cheques

To find out more about the benefits of ethical banking or how the FSB can help you, visit our FSB Business Banking page or speak to a member of our dedicated team.

FSB Business Banking from FSB

FSB members are entitled to a specially tailored bank account from the Co-operative Bank, giving you the freedom to focus on running your business.

Find out more