Why I love the Coop Bank?

There are many reasons why you choose your first bank. For some it was their parents who opened their account for them. For others it was the bank offering the best student bribe benefit. While for others it was just the convenience of which bank was located in their High Street. For me choosing a bank was a no-brainer. I come from a  “Co-op” family (pronounced “kworp” in the part of Manchester I am from). My great uncle was the Chief Executive of the Cooperative Wholesale Society – the Tescos of the 1950s when he was in charge. My grandpa was the chief actuary at the Co-operative Insurance Society in the 1970s. My brother-in-law still works for the Coop Bank today.

My mum was so brand loyal to The Coop that we even had to go to the Coop dentist which was appropriately on the corner of Redfern St in the centre of Manchester. Never did find out whether she got dividend on our treatment or not. In the early part of the 20th Century the Coop really could look after every aspect of your life. From baby food sold in the Coop supermarkets through to the funeral service which the Coop still dominates today. So in this context I opened a Coop bank account in 1986. I have laterally switched to their “fun” online brand Smile because I never need to go to a branch. But I have stayed loyal to the bank. And that loyalty isn’t much to do with heritage. It is down to the fact that they have taken ethics to their very core.

In 1989 they announced their ethical policy and overnight placed themselves in a different league to the other high street banks. The Coop Bank has conducted several stakeholder reports or social audits that look at the views of all of the Bank’s stakeholders. The report is independently audited and you can see clear action plans for how they are going to do more on each of the areas of concern. Even the CIS skyscraper in the centre of Manchester (where my Grandpa proudly had an office on the 19th floor) now has a giant solar panel down the whole of its south facing lift shaft. When you enter the reception you can see a giant display of how much energy is being generated.

And yet can I really say I love a bank after all the banking turmoil of the last 2 years? Well you probably won’t be surprised to learn that Coop Bank didn’t dash for the cash in the sub-prime market. In fact in March 2009 it actually posted a tidy profit for last year – rather in stark contrast to all the “state owned” banks who have fallen from grace.

I have no intention of moving my bank accounts and have already convinced 2 of my kids to bank with Coop. Perhaps it has always been in my DNA to bank with the Coop but they keep giving new ethical reasons to stay.

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