‘We’ve Been Badly Served by Banks’: the Small Firms Seeking Ethical BankingNovember 28, 2017
Many SME owners are demanding a new approach to banking after feeling sidelined by the major players – but what are the real ethical options?
The big banks want granny to put her pension in their bank so they can buy credit default swaps, but they’re not interested in lending to a window cleaner,” says Dave Fishwick, millionaire minibus business owner and, more recently, the founder of Burnley Savings and Loans.
Fishwick put millions of pounds of his own money behind the belief that there’s a demand for ethical banking now more than ever and opened Burnley Savings & Loans in Burnley town centre in 2011.
Fishwick’s model aims to link local savers with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in need of finance, run by a locally based bank manager who makes lending decisions based on deep personal knowledge, rather than an algorithm that spits out an automatic “no” without any personal understanding of the business involved. Burnley Savings & Loans trades under its advertising slogan “Bank on Dave” and while the business is currently only authorised to lend, he is hoping to get a banking licence from City regulators next year.
“We’ve been badly served by the banks in the past and we need change. We need ethical banks – small, simple, honest banks run by the community to serve the community – that see the people they’re serving,” he says.
His business will, he believes, challenge a banking sector that “lost its way and started buying financial weapons of mass destruction,” instead of supporting the small businesses that drive the economy.
The banking sector is slowly starting to shrug off practices that have brought the established financial services industry into disrepute. But Fishwick is not the only entrant to offer customers a different, more sustainable and ethical approach.
When former financial services PR Lisa Stanley set up Good with Money – a review website comparing sustainable financial products – it was obvious to her that her own business banking would need strong ethical credentials. Stanley looked into banking with a large building society but discovered that “it was owned by a bigger bank we weren’t keen on”.