Tax avoidance is a big problem in the finance sector.
Below we list how each company on the table has scored in our "likely use of tax avoidance strategies" category.
- Nationwide Building Society,
- Metro Bank,
- Yorkshire Bank.
- Danske Bank,
- Bank of Ireland (Post Office),
- M&S Money,
- Lloyds Bank,
- Tesco Bank,
- Virgin Money,
- Banco Santander.
Companies that scored a middle or a worst rating were marked down in the Anti-Social Finance column on our score table opposite.
We mark companies down for having investments in unsavoury areas. However, many financial companies do not declare their investments, making it harder to discover them.
We have thus primarily used several third-party reports in order to rate companies, including International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapon’s report ‘Don’t Bank on the Bomb’, which lists investments in nuclear weapons, BankTrack’s reports on investments in damaging extractive projects, and Rainforest Action Network’s report ‘Banking on Climate Change’ which lists investments in the most problematic fossil fuels.
All of the big banks have extensive investments in fossil fuels, including the most damaging ones like tar sands. The current account options that don’t come weighed down with a load of fossils are those offered by Triodos, Nationwide and Cumberland Building Societies (building societies don’t really invest), Clydesdale/Yorkshire Bank, the Co-operative Bank and Metro Bank. The only one that currently invests seriously in renewables, however, is Triodos.
See our feature on fracking in our special report into finance, where we give details of which major banks are involved with fracking companies. The most involved are Barclays and HSBC, both of which not only provide banking services to fracking companies, but own portions of several of them.
The big ethical banking news in 2017 was Triodos launching its current account. Triodos is now in a good position to take over as the main UK ethical bank, and is our best buy for current accounts.
Triodos is uniquely transparent about everything. Apart from Charity Bank, which only does savings accounts, it is the only commercial bank in the UK to provide an annual list of all the loans it has made.
It has an extensive ethical investment policy, going beyond ‘negative’ screening and only investing in businesses and charities that it judges to be of social or ecological benefit. In 2016, its largest lending categories were renewable energy (24% of total lending), private loans (14%) and healthcare (13%).
Triodos is a young European bank, founded in the Netherlands in 1980. It started as an anthroposophical initiative – part of the esoteric movement started by Rudolf Steiner, also behind Steiner Schools and biodynamic agriculture. However, formal links with the Steiner movement were stopped in 1999.