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New guide to sustainable banking

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27 Jan 16

ABCUL has contributed to a new Guide to Sustainable Banking published by Blue & Green Tomorrow.

The new publication examines instances where the commercial banking model has gone wrong and explores the potential for sustainable alternatives, including credit unions.

Blue & Green Tomorrow is the UK's fastest growing sustainability magazine, and they have published a number of guides looking at how financial services, transport, energy and commerce might become more socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

The new publication is their third Guide to Sustainable Banking, updating the last edition from 2013, and is the first to include a contribution from the credit union sector.

Writing in the new guide, ABCUL Chief Executive Mark Lyonette emphasises that one of the keys to a sustainable credit union movement is offering the services modern consumers expect in the way they want to access them.

Mark writes: "In celebrating what makes member-owned, non-profit-driven providers “different” from commercial banks, there is sometimes a temptation to believe we need to be different in every way; that we should somehow be a bit shabbier and amateurish; that the service shouldn’t be as rapid or the product range as attractive. 

"Of course, the key credit union difference comes from our values, our democratic structure and how we share and reinvest profits for the benefit of members. There’s no rule anywhere that says an ethical provider needs to offer an inferior service."

He also points out how crucial it is that credit unions serve a diverse membership in order to be able to sustainably serve those with limited financial options, saying: "By offering a broader range of products that appeal to consumers from all walks of life, credit unions can generate the income which makes it possible to sustainably offer the smaller sum credit and inclusive products that are key to our purpose. 

"These products are expensive to run and have often required external funding, but by co-operating as a movement to cut overheads, develop new technology and offer attractive products through accessible channels, credit unions can do even more to serve the financially excluded – and do so sustainably."

The new Guide to Sustainable Banking can be read here.

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