Social bank Unity Trust to reward staff with ownership shares



Unity Trust Bank, one of the leading socially responsible banks in the UK, has unveiled a new scheme that will see staff handed ownership stakes in the organisation.

The Employee Share Ownership Plan (ESOP) is designed to embed the bank’s social values firmly within its employee base. Unity has gifted a newly-created benefit trust with £50,000 as a starting point.

Those who have worked at the bank for a year will receive 100 shares, while those who have notched up a decade of service will receive a further 100. Profits are shared annually among shareholders, who can decide whether to turn their stake into cash or more shares.

Managing director Richard Wilcox said, “As [the government’s independent adviser on employee ownership] Graeme Nuttall expressed in his important report for the government last year, employee ownership gives staff a significant and meaningful stake in their organisation.

“It helps to build successful businesses in which employees enjoy working.”

The Nuttall review outlined the benefits of employee ownership. In it, Nuttall said such practices “[create] successful businesses in which employees enjoy working and which deliver wider benefits”.

Employee ownership has also been linked to better customer service. A recent report by customer experience company [24]7 found that many customers of financial services firms were considering switching providers because of the impersonal service they receive.

But Wilcox, who featured in Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Guide to Sustainable Banking 2012, said that for Unity, its people are its “best asset”.

The unveiling of Unity’s share ownership scheme comes just over three months since Barclays chief executive Antony Jenkins called on the bank’s 140,000 employees to sign up to its new ethical guidelines or quit. This formed part of Jenkins’ plan to turn the bank into a leader in ethical finance.

Further reading:

Financial services ombudsman receives 7,000 complaints a day

Impersonal experiences make financial service customers dissatisfied

Small is beautiful: why alternative banks need to step up to the mark

‘Growing confidence in alternative finance’ as ethical lending grows

The Guide to Sustainable Banking 2012


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