Finance News: Consumers 'turned off' by banks

Consumers perceive high street banks to be uncaring and profit-obsessed, according to research by charity banking specialists Triodos.

It argues that the public has a growing appetite for ethical banking that uses savers' money in a way that is transparent and benefits the community.

An NOP opinion poll, commissioned by Triodos, found that three out of four people think banks care less about people and more about profits than they did a decade ago.

A third wanted to be told more about how their bank lends their money and wanted banks to be required by law to provide this information.

"The survey provides compelling evidence that most banks are now seen as distant organisations generating colossal profits at the expense of their customers and the environment," said Triodos managing director Charles Middleton. "How sustainable this is in the long-term is open to question. While the banks have every right to make a profit, it's particularly interesting to see that, despite a plethora of reports designed to demonstrate that banks are behaving more responsibly than ever, 78 per cent of people polled still don't know how their money is being used."

Brigid Benson, co-founder of the Ethical Investment Association, added: "The banks' ethical credentials, highlighted in a number of reports, are invisible to most people. They have failed to demonstrate that customers can participate in these policies."

But Alliance & Leicester Commercial Bank defended its record. "We strive to be a socially responsible employer," said a spokesman. "Our ethical statement highlights our policy of lending only to respected institutions and not dealing knowingly with businesses involved in any illicit activities, or with foreign regimes that violate human rights."

Triodos, which only lends to social businesses and charities, said ethical banking was becoming increasingly attractive for thousands of people.

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