Ecology Building Society has announced record-breaking success in its latest annual report – figures that its chief executive says “prove the commercial viability of genuinely sustainable finance”.
Ecology, one of the youngest building societies still in existence, unveiled record assets, gross and net lending and savings balances for the year ending December 2013.
It now has assets of £124.8m, up from £109.7m in 2012. It broke the £120m barrier in October, increasing by £10m in that financial year, which it said was due to the popularity of its transparent savings policy.
This week, it also reported record gross lending of £18.4m, up from £14.3m in 2012, with net lending passing the £10m milestone for the first time in its history. There was also a surge in savings balances to £116.6m. All in all, Ecology reported a strong net profit of £402,000.
The figures suggest sustainable banking is becoming increasingly mainstream, according the society’s chief executive Paul Ellis.
“Ten years ago Ecology’s approach was seen as well-meaning idealism – fine for the hippies, but of no relevance to the wider financial sector”, he said.
“Today, voices across the political spectrum call for better banking that puts long-term value and social usefulness at the fore.”
There have been calls from parliament and elsewhere for a fairer and more sustainable banking system in which all models, including big banks and co-operatives, have a “level playing field”.
A report launched recently by the thinktank ResPublica said that diversity in the markets was essential in order to reconnect the needs of society to the financial services that were initially supposed to serve those needs.
Ellis added, “Some have called this boring banking. We think it’s the most exciting type of finance there could be: using money to make a positive difference for people and planet. Our results prove the commercial viability of genuinely sustainable finance. Is there now any excuse for the big banks not to put ethics at the heart of their work?”