Transcript for Episode 3: Mini – Uncomfortable Banking Truths

This is the transcript of Episode 3: Mini – Uncomfortable Banking Truths of the How to Make a Difference podcast. Go to the episode page to listen to this episode and for the show notes. Furthermore, we encourage you to read our blog post about sustainable banking.

Chinmai Gupta: Hey everyone. Hope you heard our episode on Sustainable Banking. Here is a little clip from the interview with Florian Koss, Head of Communication and Marketing at the Triodos Bank. In this he talks about what a sustainable bank does differently to a normal bank. Not investing in fossil fuels or weapons and arms is just one of many things. 

Elisabeth Ignasiak: But before we play the clip: It would super helpful if you could go to iTunes and rate our show. We want to reach as many people as possible and positive ratings are the best way for us to be found more easily when people search for podcasts related to climate change.

Elisabeth Ignasiak: Can we dive a little bit into what does a sustainable bank do differently from a normal bank? 

Florian Koss: I think the biggest difference is what they do and what they don’t do. So for example, when I speak about Triodos Bank: We have a very clear vision and mission is about supporting companies that really do something for people, planet and profit. It’s about having those three points in a balance. 

So if you take a look: What are the biggest branches and sectors we are active in? It’s for example renewable energies, energy and infrastructure, it’s about elderly care, it’s about education, schools, kindergarten and universities we finance, or sustainable properties. That’s the one thing. So we have high level of criteria we want to see. 

And on the other side we have a long list of negative criteria, where we say, this is not sustainable. So these are sectors or branches, we do not work with. So for example fossil energies, nuclear power, weapons and arms,… We say if a company is active there, it is completely excluded. Or, sometimes with big companies it’s really difficult, so you have thresholds. Then you can save up to 5, max 10% of the turnover, might be related to such or such activities, but that’s it. But that’s very low thresholds. And there is already the big difference to conventional banks. They do normally finance almost everything if the financial aspects are working. 

And the other big difference between a sustainable bank like Triodos and conventional banks is, we don’t only promise to do so, we also show it. So, transparency is the big difference. We do publish on our website, every loan we give. So, everyone, and especially our customers can see on their website, where do my money work, right now. Which projects my bank has financed. So they see the farm, they see the elderly care home, they see the school. 

And on top, we also calculate how big the impact is of our customers. For example, on average, every customer has helped to provide 3.4 households with green energy. 

Elisabeth Ignasiak: So to summarize, you’re saying, on the one hand, you’re avoiding negative investments, like into fossil fuels, which normal banks would do because they care only about the financial returns. So you exclude a number of projects. And then you select on the other side projects that are very positive for society and the environment and you measure the impact and you provide transparency to your customers on what their impact is. What that an okay summary?

Florian Koss: That was the perfect summary.